Media and politicians incite Islamophobia in the West

The banning of Muslim prayer from planes and the demands that Muslims should carry special IDs is showing the rapid rate at which Islamophobia is spreading in the Western world.

Islamophobia, quickly increasing following the Sept. 11 attacks has now reached dangerous levels. According to the Gallup Research company, 39 percent of American citizens believe that Muslims should carry a special ID card in society. The occurrence of two events after the revelation of these frightening poll results, however, increased anxiety about the issue.

A U.S. citizen and Muslim, Ahmed Faruk, was kicked out of a plane for praying in his seat. In another event, two passengers were prevented from boarding a flight bound for England from Spain after pressure from the other passengers. The other passengers complained that the two people were terrorists, basing their accusations only on their Middle Eastern appearance.

American specialists speaking to Zaman said that it was politicians and the media which were contributing to the rise of Islamophobia in the West. Joseph Grieboski, Institute on Religion and Public Policy Chairman, said: “The media does nothing to help demonstrate the positive impact of Islam in the U.S.” National Council of Churches (NCC) Chief Bob Edgar said there were two groups that were doing adding pressure on the Islamic religion: the U.S. Government and the Christian religious right. Edgar added “Unfortunately, our government spends more time with the far evangelical Christian right.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Research Center Director Mohamed Nimer emphasized that the U.S. Government did not acknowledge that Islamophobia was an epidemic and serious problem. Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University said there is a “strong and growing” Islamophobic minority in the U.S.

Zaman, 28 August 2006