Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards, or irrational fear of Muslims.
In 1997, the British Runnymede Trust defined Islamophobia as the “dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, [the] fear and dislike of all Muslims,” stating that it also refers to the practice of discriminating against Muslims by excluding them from the economic, social, and public life of the nation. The concept also encompasses the opinions that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.
Islamophobia was recognized as a form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and antisemitism at the “Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance”. The conference, attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the OSCE Secretary General Ján Kubis and representatives of the European Union and Council of Europe, adopted a declaration to combat “genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, and to combat all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance related to it.”  Some scholars of the social sciences consider it a form of racism, but this is controversial.
A perceived trend of increasing Islamophobia and Islamophobic incidents during the 2000s has been attributed by commentators to the September 11 attacks, while others associate it with the increased presence of Muslims in the Western world. In May 2002, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a European Union watchdog, released a report entitled “Summary report on Islamophobia in the EU after 11 September 2001”, which described an increase in Islamophobia-related incidents in European member states post-9/11.
Although the term is widely recognized and used, both the term and the underlying concept have been criticized
Islamophobia denotes prejudice against, or hatred or irrational fear of, Muslims. The term dates back to the early 1900s, but its modern use originates during the late 1980s or early 1990s. It became much more prevalent and relevant after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
The following is a list of a number of recent Islamophobic incidents perpetrated by word or deed, or in law.
Incidents by country
In the 1990s, the Bosnian Genocide and Kosovo War, both of which involved the “mass murder of innocent Muslims,” have been linked to Islamophobia. In Bosnia, Christian Serb and Croat militias carried out genocidal attacks on the Muslim Bosniak community. According to the ICRC data on the Bosnian Genocide, “200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes.” Many attacks on religious buildings and symbols took place in towns such as Foča, where all of the town’s mosques were destroyed. On 22 April 1992, Serbs blew up the Aladža Mosque and eight more mosques dating from the 16th and 17th centuries were damaged or completely destroyed. On January 1994, the Serb authorities renamed Foča “Srbinje” (Serbian: Србиње), literally meaning “place of the Serbs” (from Srbi Serbs and -nje which is a Slavic locative suffix).
In 1989, 310,000 Turks left Bulgaria, many under pressure as a result of the communist Zhivkov regime’s assimilation campaign (though up to a third returned before the end of the year). That program, which began in 1984, forced all Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria to adopt Bulgarian names and renounce all Muslim customs. The motivation of the 1984 assimilation campaign is unclear; however, some experts believe that the disproportion between the birth rates of the Turks and the Bulgarians was a major factor. During the name-changing phase of the campaign, Turkish towns and villages were surrounded by army units. Citizens were issued new identity cards with Bulgarian names. Failure to present a new card meant forfeiture of salary, pension payments, and bank withdrawals. Birth or marriage certificates would be issued only in Bulgarian names. Traditional Turkish costumes were banned; homes were searched and all signs of Turkish identity removed. Mosques were closed. According to estimates, 500 to 1,500 people were killed when they resisted assimilation measures, and thousands of others were imprisoned or sent to labor camps or were forcibly resettled.
Halima Mautbur, from the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations called an attack on a hijabi Muslim woman “an Islamophobic incident”. Hamilton police’s hate crime unit and chief arson investigator discovered “evidence of vandalism at the property as well as an incendiary device”. Attackers had used a large rock, lighter and Molotov cocktail.
Many Uyghurs face religious persecution and discrimination at the hands of the government authorities. Uyghurs who choose to practice their faith can only use a state-approved version of the Koran; men who work in the state sector cannot wear beards and women cannot wear headscarves. The Chinese state controls the management of all mosques, which many Uyghurs claim stifles religious traditions that have formed a crucial part of the Uyghur identity for centuries. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to attend religious services at mosques.
However, the suppression of the Uyghurs has more to do with the fact that they are separatist, rather than Muslim. The government of China was willing to compromise with Hui (Chinese Muslim) activists when they staged public marches in Beijing and Lanzhou in 1989 to protest the publication of a book they deemed insulting to Islam, police protected the marchers and the government even agreed to the protestor’s demands: the offensive book was banned and its authors were arrested. The Chinese government assisted them because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs.
In Tibet, the majority of Muslims are Hui people. Riots broke out between Muslims and Tibetans over incidents such as bones in soups and prices of balloons. Tibetans attacked Muslim restaurants. During the mid-March riots in 2008, Muslim shopkeepers and their families were badly hurt and some were killed when fires set in their shops spread to upstairs apartments. Due to Tibetan violence against Muslims, many Muslims have stopped wearing the traditional white caps that identify their religion. Many women now wear a hairnet instead of a scarf. Since the nearest mosque was burned down in August, the Muslims pray at home in secret. The Tibetan exile community is reluctant to publicize incidents that might harm the international image of Tibetans. The Hui usually support the Chinese government’s repression of Tibetan separatism.
Doudou Diène in a report prepared by the UN Commission on Human Rights released on March 7, 2006 mentioned the publishing of the cartoons at the heart of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy regarding, “The development of Islamophobia or any racism and racial discrimination …”
148 French Muslim graves were desecrated near Arras. A pig’s head was hung from a headstone and profanities insulting Islam and Muslims were daubed on some graves. Dalil Boubakeur, a director of a Paris mosque described the vandalism on a Mosque in Paris, France as Islamophobic.
“On December 13, 2009, The Mosque of Castres in southern France, was vandalized in the night. Swastika in black paint, “Sieg Heil” in German, “France to the French” in French, and “White Power” in English were scrawled on the mosque. Additionally, a pig feet was hung on the mosque.”
In 2010 France banned face coverings including women wearing the niqab. The French Collective against Islamophobia reported “an explosion” in the number of physical attacks on women wearing the niqab. Kenza Drider, a protester against the law, said: “I’m insulted about three to four times a day. Most say, ‘Go home’; some say, ‘We’ll kill you.’ One said: ‘We’ll do to you what we did to the Jews.’… I feel that I now know what Jewish women went through before the Nazi roundups in France. When they went out in the street they were identified, singled out, they were vilified. Now that’s happening to us.”
On July 1, 2009, Marwa El-Sherbini was stabbed to death in a courtroom in Dresden, Germany. She had just given evidence against her attacker who had used insults against her because she wore an Islamic headscarf. El-Sherbini was called “Islamist“, “terrorist” and (according to one report) “slut”.[note 1]
The Bosphorus serial murders took place between 2000 and 2006. The police discovered a hit list of 88 people that included “two prominent members of the Bundestag and representatives of Turkish and Islamic groups”.
In May 2010, a mosque in the West Bank was destroyed in an arson attack. In previous months, other mosques had been attacked; some were vandalised with Hebrew graffiti and other mosques have been destroyed or damaged by arson in the past. In June 2010, there were further acts of vandalism against mosques by Israelis. In northern Israel the walls of mosques were spray painted with the Star of David as well as messages such as “There will be war over Judea and Samaria” and “This structure is marked for demolition”.
Muslims are stereotyped in the society as “cattle killers” (referring to the cattle sacrifice festival of Eid Al Adha in Islam). The generic racist slur of “Kala” (black) used against perceived “foreigners” has especially negative connotations when referring to Burmese Muslims. The more pious Muslim communities which segregate themselves from the Buddhist majority face greater difficulties than those Muslims who integrate more at the cost of not observing Islamic personal laws.
Muslims in Myanmar are affected by the actions of Islamic Fundamentalists in other countries. Violence in Indonesia perpetrated by Islamists is used as a pretext to commit violence against Muslim minorities in Burma. The anti-Buddhist actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan (the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan) was also used as a pretext to commit violence against Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhist mobs. Human Rights Watch reports that there was mounting tension between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Taungoo for weeks before it erupted into violence in the middle of May 2001. Buddhist monks demanded that the Hantha Mosque in Taungoo be destroyed in “retaliation” for the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Mobs of Buddhists, led by monks, vandalized Muslim owned businesses and property and attacked and killed Muslims in Muslim communities. This was followed by retaliation by Muslims against Buddhists. Human Rights Watch also alleges that Burmese military intelligence agents disguised as monks, led the mobs.
The dictatorial government, which operates a pervasive internal security apparatus, generally infiltrates or monitors the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations. Religious freedom for Muslims is reduced. Monitoring and control of Islam undermines the free exchange of thoughts and ideas associated with religious activities.
It is widely feared that persecution of Muslims in Myanmar could foment Islamic fundamentalism in the country. Many Muslims have joined armed resistance groups that are fighting for greater freedom in Myanmar, but are not Islamic fundamentalists as such.
Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, two sequential attacks in Norway on 22 July 2011 that killed 76 people and wounded at least as many, is described as a 32 year old Norwegian Islamophobic right-wing extremist. In a manifesto, he describes opposition to what he saw as an Islamisation of Europe as his motive for carrying out the attacks.
The Muslim Moro people live in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and southern provinces, remain disadvantaged in terms of employment, social mobility, education and housing. Muslims in the Philippines are frequently discriminated against in the media as scapegoats or warmongers. This has established escalating tensions that have contributed to the ongoing conflict between the Philippine government, Christians and Moro people.
There has been an ongoing exodus of Moro (Tausug, Samal, Islamized Bajau, Illanun, Maguindanao) to Malaysia (Sabah) and Indonesia (Kalimantan) between the last 30 to 50 years, due to the illegal annexation of their land by Christian Filipino militants such as the Ilaga, who were responsible for massacres of Muslim villages from the 1970s to the late 1990s. This has changed the population statistics in both countries to a significant degree, and has caused the gradual displacement of the Moros from their traditional lands.
Due to the large activity of the Islamic Chechens in organised crime and terrorism many Russians (including authorities) have associated Islam and Muslims with terrorism and domestic crimes. In August 2007 a video of 2 ethnic Russian neo-Nazis beheading two Muslim men, one from Dagestan in the Caucasus and one from Tajikistan appeared on the internet. In February 2004, a nine-year old Tajik girl was stabbed to death in Saint Petersburg by suspected far-right skinheads. In December 2008 an email, containing a picture of the severed head of a man identified as Salekh Azizov, was sent to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau. It was sent by a group called Russian Nationalists’ Combat Group and has led to protests from the Tajik Government. Despite these facts with large resonance the quantity of victims between Tajik immigrants is two time less than average quantity of victims per million inhabitants in Russia in 2008.
The 1990 explusion of Muslims from Sri Lanka was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by Tamils of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization in October 1990. In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 75,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province. The first expulsion was in Chavakacheri, of 1,500 people. After this, Muslims in Kilinochchi and Mannar were forced many to leave their homeland. The turn of Jaffna came on 30 October 1990; when LTTE trucks drove through the streets ordering Muslim families to assemble at Osmania College. There, they were told to exit the city within two hours.
On 4 August 1990, Tamil militants massacred over 147 Muslims in a mosque in Kattankudi. The act took place when around 30 Tamil rebels raided four mosques in the town of Kattankudi, where over 300 people were prostrating during prayers. The LTTE later apologized (during the 2000 peace talks) for this act and asked the Muslims to return back, but very few Muslims have taken up the offer.
In March 2006, Jamia Masjid mosque in Preston was attacked by gangs of white youths using brick and concrete block. The white youths damaged a number of cars outside the mosque and stabbed a 16 year-old Muslim teenager. On July 6, 2009, the Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief was badly damaged by a fire which police said was started deliberately, and which members of the Muslim community of Scotland allege was Islamophobic.
In 2005, The Guardian commissioned an ICM poll which indicated an increase in Islamophobic incidents, particularly after the London bombings in July 2005. Another survey of Muslims, this by the Open Society Institute, found that of those polled 32% believed they had suffered religious discrimination at airports, and 80% said they had experienced Islamophobia. In July 2005, a Muslim man, Kamal Raza Butt, was beaten to death outside a corner shop in Nottingham by a gang of youths who shouted anti-Islamic abuse at him.
On the 26 August 2007 fans of the English football club Newcastle United directed Islamophobic chants at Egyptian Middlesbrough F.C. striker Mido. An FA investigation was launched He revealed his anger at The FA’s investigation, believing that they would make no difference to any future abuse. Two men were eventually arrested over the chanting and were due to appear at Teesside Magistrates Court.
In January 2010, a report from the University of Exeter‘s European Muslim research centre noted that the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has increased, ranging from “death threats and murder to persistent low-level assaults, such as spitting and name-calling,” for which the media and politicians have been blamed with fueling anti-Muslim hatred. The Islamophobic incidents it described include: “Neil Lewington, a violent extremist nationalist convicted in July 2009 of a bomb plot; Terence Gavan, a violent extremist nationalist convicted in January 2010 of manufacturing nail bombs and other explosives, firearms and weapons; a gang attack in November 2009 on Muslim students at City University; the murder in September 2009 of Muslim pensioner, Ikram Syed ul-Haq; a serious assault in August 2007 on the Imam at London Central Mosque; and an arson attack in June 2009 on Greenwich Islamic Centre.” Other Islamophobic incidents mentioned in the report include “Yasir, a young Moroccan,” being “nearly killed while waiting to take a bus from Willesden to Regent’s Park in London” and “left in a coma for three months”; “Mohammed Kohelee,” a “caretaker who suffered burns to his body while trying to prevent an arson attack against Greenwich Mosque”; “the murder” of “Tooting pensioner Ekram Haque” who “was brutally beaten to death in front of his three year old granddaughter” by a “race-hate” gang; and “police officers” being injured “during an English Defence League (EDL) march in Stoke.”
In February 2011, a social club in North Wales was burned down in an arson attack. This came just weeks after Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society announced plans to open a mosque there.
United States of America
A protester at a counter-demonstration against the September 15, 2007 anti-war protest in Washington, D.C.
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, many residents of Middle Eastern descent and African American Muslims became victims of the initial rage at “Muslim terrorists” as the initial news stories hypothesized. KFOR-TV‘s coverage of the bombing informed viewers that a member of the Nation of Islam had taken credit for the bombing. Even though the network cautioned that it might be a crank call, it repeated the claim throughout the day’s coverage. According to a report prepared by the Arab American Institute, three days after the bombings, “more than 200 serious hate crimes were committed against Arab Americans and American Muslims. The same was true in the days following September 11.” There were also suggestions on the radio that all Arab Americans “be put in internment camps”. Moreover, Daniel Zwerdling observed that “while the planners of the ‘Time For Healing’ service took great pains to be inclusive and to include Jews, Catholics, and evangelical Christians among the religious leaders at the service, Islamic groups were excluded”.
In the aftermath of 9/11, hate crimes against people of Middle-Eastern descent increased from 354 attacks in 2000 to 1,501 attacks in 2001. Among the victims of the backlash was a Middle-Eastern man in Houston, Texas who was shot and wounded after an assailant accused him of “blowing up the country” and four immigrants shot and killed by a man named Larme Price who confessed to killing them as “revenge” for the September 11 attacks. Although Price described his victims as Arabs, only one was from an Arab country. This appears to be a trend; on account of stereotypes of Arabs, several non-Arab, non-Muslim groups were subjected to attacks in the wake of 9/11, including several Sikh men attacked for wearing their religiously mandated turban. According to a report prepared by the Arab American Institute, three days after the Oklahoma City bombing (which was committed by anti-government white American Timothy McVeigh), “more than 200 serious hate crimes were committed against Arab Americans and American Muslims. The same was true in the days following September 11.”
Zohreh Assemi, an Iranian American Muslim owner of a nail salon in Locust Valley, New York, was robbed, beaten, and called a “terrorist” in September 2007 in what authorities call a bias crime. Assemi was kicked, sliced with a boxcutter, and had her hand smashed with a hammer. The perpetrators, who forcibly removed $2,000 from the salon and scrawled anti-Muslim slurs on the mirrors, also told Assemi to “get out of town” and that her kind were not “welcomed” in the area. The attack followed two weeks of phone calls in which she was called a “terrorist” and told to “get out of town,” friends and family said.
While en route to Chicago, Shahrukh Khan, a well-known Bollywood actor, was held for what he described as “humiliating” questioning for several hours in Newark Airport, New Jersey because of his common Muslim surname Khan. He was released only following the intervention of the Indian embassy.
On August 25, 2010, a New York taxi driver was stabbed after a passenger asked if he was Muslim.
The Dove World Outreach Center church in Gainesville, Florida planned to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Despite warning from the military leadership in the Afghan War, Terry Jones, the pastor of the centre, said it would be “tragic” if anybody’s life was lost as a result of the planned Quran burning. While he added “Still, I must say that we feel that we must sooner or later stand up to Islam, and if we don’t, it’s not going to go away.” His church’s website claims to “expose Islam” as a “violent and oppressive religion;” it also displays a sign reading “Islam is of the Devil.”
In March, 2011 the Center for Security Policy released a study which concluded that “religious bias crimes – also known as hate crimes – against Muslim Americans, measured by the categories of incidents, offenses or victims, have remained relatively low with a downward trend since 2001, and are significantly less than the numbers of bias crimes against Jewish victims.”
On March 21, 2012, Iraqi-American Shaima Alawadi was found in her home (which had been broken into) in El Cajon, California, badly beaten, next to a note that read “Go back to your country, you terrorist”. She was taken off life support on March 24, 2012 and died shortly afterwards. Alawadi was the mother of five and had recently moved to southern California from Detroit. Her husband is also Iraqi; he works in the defense industry acting as a cultural advisor to members of the American military who are going to be stationed in Iraq. Her family had received a threatening note earlier in the month. On November 8, 2012 Shaima Alawadi´s husband Kassim Alhimidi was arrested for the murder and the police stated that they believed the murder was a result of domestic violence.
In April 2012, various media sources reported that the Joint Forces Staff College taught an anti-Islam course. The course taught that “they [Muslims] hate everything you stand for and will never coexist with you.” It also proposed justified the destruction of the cities of Mecca and Medina “without regard for civilian deaths”. The course was suspended after a student objected to the material.
In early August 2012 U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) said at a town hall that radical Muslims were “trying to kill Americans every week.” Soon after his remarks several attacks against Muslims took place in his district, including an August 12 acid bomb attack on a Muslim school in Lombard, Illinois during evening Ramadan prayers and hate graffiti found on August 16 in a Muslim Cemetery. There also were several other attacks of mosques with pellet guns, acid bombs, eggs, or unclean animal parts. Some incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.
December 27, 2012 in New York City 31 year old Erika Menendez allegedly push an Indian immigrant and small businessman named Sunando Sen onto the subway tracks where he was struck and killed by a train. Menendez, who has a long history of mental illness and violence, told police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims… Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up.” She has been charged with 2nd degree murder as a hate crime.
ISIS Islamic State (ISIL/IS) Daesh, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islam and Muslims in Latin America