To recap: this 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.
The thirteen highlighted terms were discussed in Parts 3 and 4. Below are the conclusions to be drawn from this analysis.
The definition of Islamophobia as presented by Umut Topcuoglu fails to meet even minimal standards of logic, coherence, and objectivity. As such it must be rejected for any further usage in OSCE proceedings.
As mentioned above, six of the terms used in the definition (“racism”, “xenophobia”, “intolerance”, “discrimination”, “prejudice”, and “stereotyping”) are “loaded”, in the sense that they are either of recent coinage or have recently acquired new meanings, which alone is reason enough to render the definition questionable for any scholarly use. Words that are commonly used to demonize, intimidate, and marginalize certain viewpoints are always unacceptable in presentations that affect public policy. Unless the controversial “loaded” terms are themselves clearly defined, they should be excluded.
The definition fails utterly through its inclusion of three phrases (#7, “unequal treatment”, #13, “stigmatization of a religion and its followers”, and #4, “unfounded fear, mistrust, and hatred”). Specifically:
Unequal treatment. As described in the “Examination of Terms”, Islam itself (via Shariah) treats non-Muslims differently from Muslims. Under the given definition, Muslims would themselves be guilty of “Islamophobia”. This is a logical absurdity, and the definition falls because of it.
Stigmatization of a religion and its followers. The vast majority of Islam-critics do not “describe or identify [the Islamic religion] in opprobrious terms”. Their critiques are focused almost entirely on the tenets of Islamic law (and the practical implementation of those tenets), which are not at all religious. Criticism of the religious elements of Islam is rare, mild, and often non-existent. This term therefore deflects the discussion into a “straw man” argument, and the definition falls because of it.
Unfounded fear, mistrust, and hatred. This is the heart of the definition of “Islamophobia”. Any fear, mistrust, or hatred of Islam must be shown to be unfounded if it is to constitute Islamophobia. As previously demonstrated, millions of non-Muslims all over the world have well-founded empirical reasons to fear Islam, and thus cannot possibly be described as “Islamophobes”. Furthermore, any investigation into the basis for the fear of Islam — which requires research into and discussion of the collective behavior of self-identified Muslims in real-world situations — is almost always itself condemned as “Islamophobia”. Therefore the definition of “Islamophobia” transforms the word into a self-referential term. This is a violation of logic, and the definition falls because of it.
Other logical failures detailed in the previous section include those for “racism”, “xenophobia”, and “stereotyping”. Additional logical problems are presented by “contemporary” (incoherent usage in context), and “classical racism and xenophobia” (demands clarification of the meaning of “classical” in this context).
Five other terms (“intolerance”, “discrimination”, “prejudice”, “hostility”, and “adverse public discourse”) were analyzed and shown to be applicable to Islam itself. This is not a logical argument against their appearance in the definition — it would be a tu quoque fallacy to make such an assertion — but it adds weight to the failure of the definition on logical grounds. Reciprocity of behavior, commonly referred to as the “Golden Rule”, is a core cultural value in Western societies. Islam’s manifest failure to exhibit normative reciprocity argues persuasively against the inclusion of these five terms in any definition of “Islamophobia”.
We cannot help but conclude that the definition of “Islamophobia” as presented by the Turkish representative in Vienna on July 12, 2013, is prima facie utterly without merit, and must be abandoned.
The final post in this series will address the question of what to do next.
For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.