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Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims.

In 1997, the British Runnymede Trust -- a leading pro-multiculturalism think-tank -- 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.

According to the think-tank Islamophobia includes the perception 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.

Misuse of the term 'Islamophobia'

The term is often misused in reference to instances of legitimate concerns regarding Islam's tenets (such as the fact that the Quran calls for the destruction of the enemies of Islam -- including anyone who rejects Muhammad as the 'prophet').

The insistence on wearing a burqa or niqab in countries where wearing disguises in public places is forbidden -- whether for security reasons or in order to facilitate normal human interaction in a multicultural society -- is also a reason for concern.1

Large-scale immigration tends to result in demands that the host country changes its cultural views and practices in order to accommodate Islamic mores. That's a legitimate concern, particularly when you note the insistence of many Muslims to introduce Sharia (Islamic law, much of which amounts to violations of human rights) instead of -- or in addition to -- the law of the land.

The prevalence of Islamic terrorism -- nearly 25,500 deadly terror attacks since 9/11 -- does not help the matter either.

In speaking out against Islamophobia U.N. Secretary Kofi Anan has said:

Islam is often seen as a monolith, when it is as diverse as any other tradition, with followers running the gamut from modernizers to traditionalists.

Some commentators talk as if the world of Islam was more or less identical with the Arab world -- whereas in fact a majority of Muslims are not native Arabic speakers. The most populous Muslim countries are to be found in non-Arab Asia -- from Indonesia through South-East and South Asia to Central Asia, Iran, and Turkey, which of course is both in Asia and Europe.

There are many predominantly Muslim countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and large minorities of Muslims are to be found on every continent.
- Source: Kofi Anan, "Secretary-General, addressing headquarters seminar on confronting Islamophobia" United Nations press release, December 7, 2004.

However, most of those countries are constantly in the news regarding acts of intolerance, violence and religious persecution of others by Muslims.

Islamism is also a concern. Seen by many Muslims as a distortion of Islam it is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists. ISIS/Daesh is essentially a barbaric cult of Islam, and yet it speaks to the hearts and minds of many 'moderate' Muslims who -- usually to the surprise of family, friends and neighbors -- are radicalized into joining up in order to further what they then believe to be Islam-based goals.2


True Islamophobia -- as opposed to legitimate criticism of Islam expressed in legitimate ways -- is wrong. No one should engage in acts of prejudice, discrimination or hatred against Islam and its followers.

At the same time, Muslims and others should not dismiss attempts at legitimate criticism -- expressed in legitimate ways -- as 'Islamophobia.'

Research resources on Islam



  1. For example, there have been instances in which Muslim terrorists have disguised themselves as women, wearing either burqas or niqabs. Too, while many Muslim women claim to wear Muslim veils based on their own desire to do so, many others are more-or-less forced to do so.
  2. Such as the establishment of a caliphate, a geographical area in which people are ruled under strict adherence to Sharia.

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This post was last updated: Apr. 10, 2015