Naming Distinct Shades of Atrocities Against Muslims

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Islamophobia

Acts of destruction and obstruction like razing mosques, banning Azan, criminalizing hijab too fall in the category of anti-Islamism and not just Islamophobia

Nida Fatima | Clarion India

THERE is an acute shortage of terms to narrate, chronicle or fairly express the global Muslim experience of the 20th and the 21st century.

Islamophobia,  the one-size-fits-all term, hardly does justice to the range of situations that Muslims globally find themselves pitted against time and again.

What does one call it when a man brutally hits and kicks a woman going about her business only because she is clad in a hijab? Or when another man burns a copy of the Holy Quran in public?

In popular parlance, both are referred to as acts of Islamophobia – a fear of or aversion to Islam. In reality, however, the sentiments that lead to real physical harm/damage and emotional trauma have to be more sinister than just fear or aversion. It’s concentrated hate and calling the attacker phobic not just dilutes his crime but also pits him for readers’/listeners’ sympathy.

The term Anti-Islamic violence or Anti-Islamism represent the crime more accurately. And the man who commits such a crime ought to be called a misoislamist (just like misogynist or misogamist).

Acts of destruction and obstruction like razing mosques, banning Azan, criminalizing hijab too fall in the category of anti-Islamism and not just Islamophobia.

How does one define a real or virtual assault on self-declared atheists who have got nothing to do with Islam except that they were born in Muslim families and, therefore, carry Muslim names and value the Muslim heritage? Aversion to such an individual cannot qualify as Islamophobia at all.

It is Muslim-phobia, a term that practically does not exist although an overwhelming amount of hate in the world is directed against Muslims by people who are too illiterate, ignorant and impatient to read up, bother themselves with Islam and consequently turn Islamophobic.

Ironically, born-Muslims-turned- atheists are often times the greatest Islamophobes one comes across but that does not prevent them from becoming the victims of Muslim-phobia. Aren’t the two rather distinct phobias then?

The go-to words in the global mainstream media for large-scale Muslim killing are genocide or ethnic cleansing. The act of killing Muslims for their religious identity is pure terrorism and anti-Muslim terrorism ought to have been a household name by now.

The terms that urgently need to be inculcated in journalism curriculum are misoislamist, misomuslimist, anti-Islamism, anti-Islamic violence, anti-Islamic terrorism, anti-Muslim violence and anti-Muslim terrorism.

That said, these terms cannot be entirely exclusive of each other. They will frequently overlap in usage just like a single event usually has several aspects. At the same time, a single person can be misomuslimist as well as a misoislamist. Similarly, a single incident like opening fire on a group of worshippers has an anti-Islamic as well as an anti-Muslim aspect.

It is conspicuous how the journalists and analysts who had been lightning quick to come up with terms like Islamist, Islamic terrorism, Jihadist and Jihadi terrorism were compelled to settle for a single word like Islamobhobia, perhaps the mildest among available options, to discuss all anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic events.

It’s high time the mainstream media worldwide opened its eyes enough to be able to perceive the distinct shades of atrocities being committed on Muslims globally and call each one by its name.


Nida Fatima is a Hyderabad-based writer and homemaker. She tweets @TawakkkalAllah The views expressed are personal and Clarion India does not necessarily subscribe to them.

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