Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 3

This post is the third in a series about the Turkish definition of the word “Islamophobia” presented at the OSCE meeting in Vienna on July 12, 2013. Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

An Examination of Terms: 1 Through 7

Here once again is the definition of Islamophobia provided by Umut Topcuoglu in July 2013. Emphasis has been added to thirteen words or phrases that deserve further attention:

Islamophobia is a contemporary form of racism and xenophobia motivated by unfounded fear, mistrust, and hatred of Muslims and Islam. Islamophobia is also manifested through intolerance, discrimination, unequal treatment, prejudice, stereotyping, hostility, and adverse public discourse. Differentiating from classical racism and xenophobia [sic], Islamophobia is mainly based on stigmatization of a religion and its followers, and as such, Islamophobia is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims.

Six of the terms highlighted above are “loaded”, in the sense that they are either of recent coinage or have recently acquired new meanings, and are commonly used to demonize, intimidate, and marginalize people who hold certain political opinions. These words are controversial, and thus should not be used in any official definition without themselves being defined:

2.   Racism
3.   Xenophobia
5.   Intolerance
6.   Discrimination
8.   Prejudice
9.   Stereotyping

The other seven words and phrases are problematic in various ways, even when the words themselves are well-defined and uncontroversial in their common usage.

Any terms whose contextual meaning might be unclear are defined. The definitions used below are all taken from the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

1. Contemporary

The adjective “contemporary” is a perplexing qualifier for the conditions identified as the components of Islamophobia. The relevant definition of contemporary in Merriam-Webster:

2b: marked by characteristics of the present period : modern, current

Is “contemporary” racism different from that displayed by, say, the garrison manning the walls of Vienna during the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683? If so, what is the difference?

If there is no inherent distinction between the racism practiced centuries ago and that which exists today, then the use of the term “contemporary” is functionally meaningless, and should be abandoned.

2. Racism

“Racism” is a loaded word of relatively recent coinage (1933), and is as much a tool of political manipulation as “Islamophobia”. The definitions of the term that are relevant to this discussion are as follows:

1:   a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2:   racial prejudice or discrimination

Let us imagine that a white European or North American expressed an opinion implying a prejudice against the following men, or a belief in their inferiority:

All three of these men are white Caucasians. As a result, any “prejudice or discrimination” against them cannot be termed “racism”. Therefore it does not constitute “Islamophobia”.

The obvious conclusion is that any feeling or opinion about Islam or Muslims cannot depend on “racism”.

3. Xenophobia

“Xenophobia” is another modern word (1903), and is also loaded. Like “Islamophobia” and “racism”, it was arguably invented as a means to intimidate opponents of a dominant political ideology. Merriam-Webster assigns it the following definition:

: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

Given this definition, how might “xenophobia” be applicable to “Islamophobia”?

Consider the Egyptian city of Minya, which recently experienced extensive violence at the hands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. During August 2013, over the space of a few days, Islamic fundamentalists attacked and burned churches, orphanages, and homes belonging to Christians. The attackers chose their targets on the basis of religion; that is, buildings were set on fire because they were owned or occupied by Christians.

If those Christians are now afraid of Muslims or hate them, their feelings are not directed towards “strangers, foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign”. Those who attacked them were their neighbors, and were in some cases personally know to them. Local Muslims were very familiar to Coptic Christians in Minya; they lived in the same community and spoke the same dialect.

The fear and hatred of Muslims by Christians in Minya therefore cannot be described as “xenophobia”.

4. Unfounded Fear, Mistrust, and Hatred

The words “fear”, “mistrust”, and “hatred” are clear in their commonly-used meanings, and so do not need to be defined. “Unfounded” is also well-understood, but since it is problematic in this context, its definition is instructive:

: lacking a sound basis : groundless, unwarranted {an unfounded accusation}

Does a fear of Islam ever have a “sound basis”? Or is it always “groundless” and “unwarranted”?

Relevant examples might be drawn from a number of countries. In order to avoid excessive length, for the purposes of this examination we will consider only a series incidents that took place in Pakistan in the spring of 2013.

During March 2013, in the city of Lahore, a large crowd of angry Muslims converged on the Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood, after a Christian man was accused of blasphemy against Mohammed. The rioters looted and burned more than 160 residences, eighteen shops, and two churches, injuring at least thirty-five people. Estimates of the number of Muslims who participated in the assault range from three thousand to twelve thousand.

Also in Lahore, a Christian named Sadiq Masih Zafar was repeatedly threatened by Islamic groups for his involvement in the building of a church. He and his family were pressured to convert to Islam, and when they refused they were violently attacked. One of his two daughters was kidnapped and severely injured. The two girls are now kept indoors by their father to prevent further attempts at kidnapping.

Many more examples could be presented, extending all the way back to Partition in 1947. And Pakistan is just one of numerous Muslim-majority countries in which Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Zoroastrians, and atheists are repeatedly persecuted, attacked, and killed for their faith (or lack thereof).

Based on the evidence, if a Christian in Pakistan fears or hates Muslims and Islam, his misgivings can hardly be called “unfounded”, since they have a sound basis, are firmly grounded, and warranted by experience. The same might be said of non-Muslims in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries or regions where Islam is dominant. The fears of non-Muslims in these places are not unfounded; therefore those unfortunate citizens cannot be characterized as “Islamophobes”.

One might advance the argument that non-Muslims who live in countries where Islam is the minority religion have nothing to fear from Islam, and that any negative characterizations of Islam by them would therefore constitute “Islamophobia”. However, consider this statement from the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs:[1]

Our doctrine states that if you accept any religion other than Islam, like Judaism or Christianity, which are not acceptable, you become an unbeliever. If you do not repent, you are an apostate, and you should be killed because you have denied the Koran.

Having read this official text, any Christian traveling to Saudi Arabia would have a sound basis for being afraid of Islam. Similar statements from Muslim leaders in other countries — including Western countries where Muslims are still a minority — demonstrate that a fear of Islam is warranted in any area where more than a small number of Muslims reside.

Moreover, the determination of the “sound basis” of any fear of Islam must of necessity involve the examination of the behavior of Muslims en masse. To do so would mean to research the incidence of Islamic violence and compile statistics about its frequency and extent. Unfortunately, as numerous dedicated scholars have already experienced, to conduct such research is to invite accusations of “Islamophobia” from prominent Islamic groups and their allies.

In other words, the attempt to determine whether a fear of Islam is warranted is in itself evidence of “Islamophobia”. Thus the definition of “Islamophobia” becomes effectively recursive. Those accused of it find themselves stigmatized with a self-referential term that cannot be examined or refuted using logic and the rules of evidence.

5. Intolerance

Checking the dictionary definition, we learn that “intolerance” means the quality or state of being intolerant:

2a:   unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters
2b:   unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights : bigoted

Since the “intolerance” in question refers to Islam, in the following example consider the apparent intolerance exhibited by British banks. The issue was not corrected until 2005, when the banks banned a practice that was considered offensive by Muslims:

British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.

Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reports here.

Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.

Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move.

“This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers,” he said.

Yet who is really practicing “intolerance” in this case?

Prior to 2005, the banks had been tolerant of people who liked piggy banks, but were also accessible to those who did not. After “correcting” their practices, they no longer catered to patrons who preferred and enjoyed piggy banks.

In other words, to accommodate its Islamic patrons, the banks in fact became less tolerant.

Tolerance is a two-way street. An open society in which freedom of choice is paramount allows for multiple preferences and tastes, even contradictory ones. This is one of the cornerstones of democracy and civil society.

6. Discrimination

Choosing among the various definitions of “discrimination” — which is yet another loaded term — we must assume that one of the following is intended:

3a:   the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually
3b:   prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment {racial discrimination}

In addition to racial discrimination, which is cited as an example in (3b) above, gender-based discrimination is also often cited as an objectionable practice. In particular, discrimination against women has been judged unacceptable and illegal under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Based on the definition of “Islamophobia” cited by Mr. Topcuoglu, we would feel justified in assuming that Islam itself scrupulously avoids any form of discrimination against women.

Consider, however, the following verse from Sura 4 of the Koran:

(4:11) — (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176).

And this authentic (sahih) hadith from Bukhari:

(6:301) — “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’”

Islamic scripture thus justifies discrimination against women. Since the Koran and the Sunna (of which the hadith form a part) are the basis for Islamic law as practiced by all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence, we must conclude that Islam discriminates against women as a matter of law.

Any objective observer would therefore be justified in doubting the wisdom of using the word “discrimination” in association with any definition of “Islamophobia”.

7. Unequal Treatment

No dictionary definitions are required here: the meaning of the phrase “unequal treatment” is clear and generally accepted. If Muslims were to be treated differently from non-Muslims under the law, then that would be an example of unequal treatment, and clear evidence of “Islamophobia”.

How does Islamic law handle these matters? First, consider Koran 2:178 (Muhammad Sarwar translation):

Believers, in case of murder, the death penalty is the sanctioned retaliation: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, and a female for a female. However, if the convicted person receives pardon from the aggrieved party, the prescribed rules of compensation must be followed accordingly. This is a merciful alteration from your Lord. Whoever transgresses against it will face a painful punishment.

Follow this with an authentic (sahih) hadith from Bukhari (Hadith 9.50 Narrated by Abu Juhaifa):

…I asked, “What is on this paper?” He replied, “The legal regulations of Diya (Blood-money) and the (ransom for) releasing of the captives, and the judgment that no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for killing a Kafir (disbeliever).”

Islamic law thus prescribes different legal penalties for the same crime, one when the victim is a Muslim, and another when the victim is a non-Muslim.

Islam plainly treats Muslims and non-Muslims unequally as a matter of law. We must therefore conclude that Islam itself is “Islamophobic”.

(To be continued)

Later posts in this series will analyze the remaining components of the definition used by the OSCE and the OIC, and draw conclusions about the attempt to impose the use of the word on the OSCE and other international bodies..


[1]   bin Uthaimin, Sheik. The Belief of Ahl Assuna wal Jammaat (The People of the Way and Community of the Prophet). Riyadh: The Ministry of Islamic Religious Affairs, 1995. (Published in Urdu) Collected from King Fahd Mosque, Culver City, CA, 12/04/04, as cited in Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House, 28 January 2006,

For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.

8 thoughts on “Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 3

  1. Acceptance and sound definitions of these words is almost an irrelevance it is the multikulti sociopolitical power that gives them weight – they are prosecution props British courts could just as easily prosecute a charge of trumpophobia.

    Trumpophobia – a fear of trumped-up charges.


  3. It’s very good. Of course, you are not arguing disputed definitions with Muslims, nor would they try to foist this kind of malarkey on mentally sound whites, i.e. before about 1970. They are addressing all this to the white madmen who rule us. These madmen are also the target audience of your refutation. And you can bet your last dollar that Muslims are not making the same point in Burma, Thailand or China.: they know it would be futile. The most interesting aspect of all this is what kind of evasion or other lying subterfuge white madmen will resort to in order to brush off what you have just presented.

  4. Dear Baron,

    The things you are writing about stand very close to parts of my work the last two years on “Daily Life Language of Violence”. The work you are doing is very important. This definition of *Islamophobia” must NEVER be accepted. And you, Baron, produces the arguments. Chapeau!

    In my writing, I talk about “generalizations”, where each one of your terms mentioned is included. We can’t live without generalizations like “ship”, “Swede”, “carpenter”, “dentist” and so on and so on for ever. Maybe I needn’t know the type of ship involved – I need to know that it’s not a train. Maybe I needn’t know whether the dentist is male or female, white or black or yellow, hetero- or homosexual – it should have nothing to do with the profession (Btw, the word “black” is absolutely incorrect in Sweden. “Coloured” is the correct term to use.).

    But generalizations have also been used with violent purposes as long as there have been languages on earth. It is not very difficult to differ between them when they are used with informative purposes or with violent ones.

    When a person uses the LoV, the purpose is not communication but violence and nothing but violence. An understanding of this is very useful and makes daily life much easier. For example, I didn’t have to spend many minutes reading Mr Radosh’s review of “American Betrayal” to photographe the entire situation (Encore un Chapeau, Dymphna et Baron! You were there defending Ms West at the very beginning where she needed the support the most.).

    Baron. If I can be of any help detronizing the Umut T’s definition of “Islamophobia” – just give me a call.

  5. Pingback: Stalking the Mythical Islamophobe, Part 4 | Gates of Vienna

  6. Pingback: “Islamophobia” Is Undefined | Gates of Vienna

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