Resistance and fear of religion has been a significant factor for the Abrahamic faiths over time. The phobia based generalisations from society against these religions has now taken a central focus on Islam and it practices. Islamophobia has seen a rapid rise in western society due considerably to response to acts of terrorism and media sensationalism resulting in the arbitrary discrimination against Muslims in general. The wide ranging impact of Islamophobia has manifest itself as social barriers in employment, equality, societal alienation as well as hate crimes, leading to a reduced quality of life experienced by Muslims in the West, particularly in America. Islam is one of the largest religions in the world. Muslims populate almost every country in the world. Islamophobia is a major concern of Muslims in western countries. This essay will be discussing Islamophobia particularly in the case of America.
Terrorist attacks on America and its global interests in the late 20th and 21st century can be said to be the main cause of Islamophobia. Terrorist activity became a main focus of legislation in the US and its international partners as a result of increased terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. September 11 marked the single greatest attack on US homeland security when 9 individuals linked to Al-Qaeda hijacked airplanes in order to attack symbols of US military and economic power. The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington lead to over three thousand deaths including firemen and police officers. The US government considered this event an act of war, Americans were shocked and surprised at these attacks particularly because they did not witness or experience any form of war in America (Templeton, 2002). The event brought with it worldwide 24 hour mass media saturation resulting in wide spread fear and panic which led to the beginning of the new culture of indiscriminate hatred against Islam and Muslims.
The events of September 11 marked a turning point in the western view of Islam, particularly in America. Another indicator of these terrorist attacks is that there are more than 650 books written on the topic of 11 September (Templeton, 2002). Furthermore, more than one million Americans post 9/11 changed their mediums of holiday travel from plane to trains or cars (Nymag.com, 2014). The Majority of Muslims and Islam in general have been blamed for acts of violence by a few. Consequently, almost all Americans link this terrorist attack to Islam and believe Islam taught Muslims to kill innocent people and fight all non-Muslims; they developed both a fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims. According to Gillespie (2001) stated that “we were all attacked; since then we have all lived with fear” (p. 1). Such emotive language leads to creation of undercurrents of division and sectarianism in society giving rise to Islamophobic sentiments. The September 11 events have been deemed as an all-out attack on America by Muslims as a collective, setting up raw links to acts of violence to Muslims as a unified body which must be acted against.
Mass media is one of the major influences on the concerns of the public and the shaping of public opinion. According to Michael (2006) "The media environment in the United States has become increasingly anti-Muslim" (P. 57). Muslims have been targeted in television, radio, internet websites, books, newspapers and magazines for range of Islamic practices from their dress code to religious education. This shaping of public opinion has been a key factor in the rise of Islamophobia. According to Rane (2010) stated that “The media has put a spotlight on extremism, violence and intolerance that occurs in the name of Islam”. (p. 158). The leading cause for Islamophobia is usually misinformation or total lack of information based on the religion. In fact, most stereotypes and misconceptions in Western society about Islam are due to media propaganda....
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