I published an article two days ago about the technical differences among islamophobia, fearing Islam, and anti-Muslim discrimination. Mechul Muhayyil (not his real name) on Twitter also published an article yesterday. Unfortunately, it is in Turkish, but I will be happy to share it if he provides a translation soon. This entire article will not be based on these two, but I will use a few points I found interesting. In any case, you may at least check my previous article in the link above, or you may read both articles if you happen to understand Turkish. The thing I was interested in most about M.M.’s article was the question that “why only Islam has a dedicated term like ‘islamophobia’?” I think I understood his approach of not including “anti-Semitism”, because it did not seem to contribute to the main approach, but I will consider both terms together.
Actually, there are two religions that have their dedicated hate words, Islam, and Judaism. Again, for the ones who do not have time to read the other article(s), I will give some short definitions. A phobia is an irrational fear of something that has little or no apparent connection to the concept, content or the situation. So, technically, the term “islamophobia” means an irrational fear of Islam. It has nothing to do with Muslims in definition. So, naturally, irrationally fearing Islam is really different from anti-Muslim discrimination, or fearing Islam rationally. Today, most of the world have rational reasons to fear Islam, and Muslims are naturally associated with the system they (mostly) base their whole lives on. This does not automatically imply responsibility, or causation, but we need to be able to talk about these things. Secondly, I am sure everyone reading this article know the meaning of “anti”. As the emphasis is not on the “semitism” part of the term, this will not be much relevant, but I will explain it anyway. Technically, Semitic people are West Asian, Middle-Eastern people, and the current usage of “semitism” in anti-Semitism comes from “shem” in the Bible. This previously had nothing to do with other religions, and being a “Semite” was historically associated with conflicts between Christians and Jews. So, an Arab is also a Semite, but this word developed into a modern phrase that designates Jews.
Therefore, we can safely repeat that only two religions in the entire world have designated terms with negative connotations “on this level of popularity”. On the other hand, these two terms cannot be understood under the same context or semantics, not only because of their etymological roots, but also because of their practical usage. By pure definition and no comments, the mainstream existence of the term “islamophobia” indicates that a considerable amount of people in the world has irrational fears of Islam. This is a questionable approach, considering that the term “islamophobia” has almost always been used as a substitute for “anti-Muslim discrimination”. By asserting this, we might say the existence of the term “islamophobia” indicates a considerable amount of discrimination against Muslims. Likewise, the existence of the “mainstream” term “anti-Semitism” indicates there is a considerable amount of opposition against Jews. Please note that the emphasis is on the word “mainstream” here. The most important point I would make is, while a considerable amount of people on Earth are “opposing” Jews as a people, -maybe another- considerable amount of people on Earth fear Islam. M.M.’s approach here is important. Not because I am sure he exactly meant the thing I will argue, but because approaching the issue with the concept of “fear” or “phobia” is the most relevant thing in my opinion.
Anywhere in the world, I would be surprised if anyone felt fear of death immediately after a Christian or a Jew shouted “God is great”. As much as all religions are bullshit in my opinion, nothing would make me more eager to run for my life than a Muslim shouting “Allahu Aqbar” in public. This might seem like an oversimplification, or prejudice, but however relevant it might be, it was not constructed by the media, it was not legislated by the governments, nor was it established by any other kinds of religious belief. The fear of “Allahu Aqbar” comes from practice, and statistically significant occasions that suggest us to take cover. The two “mainstream terms with negative connotations” are important. Nobody is “afraid of” Jews, people just hate them. I will not be discussing the problems with anti-Semitism or anti-Muslim discrimination here, as you might as well read hundreds of my articles or follow my Twitter profile to see how I approach these things. The fact that even the “God is great” approach of “only one” religion considerably and horrifyingly invades our minds is scary. As a social scientist, I am not the one to follow any “if there is smoke, there is a fire” approach, but this fear has been explained over and over through decades. I am sorry to ruin your peaceful lives, but it IS real. Asking for good relations with your Muslim neighbours is not my duty. You should know that you should not discriminate against, or have prejudices about a person. These things are “given” in any discussion I open up, and I will not bother to include such secondary issues here. In summary, the problem is not about the “people”, but the “system”. Islam is a fascist ideology, and I am in the brink of bursting into tears whenever I see a peaceful, kind Muslim person who tries to justify those fascist ideals. If Islam is truly legitimate, what are we working with? Focusing on the so-called justification of Islam prevents us from treating Muslims equally, and represents a false idea that the problem is with the people, otherwise, the religion is perfectly peaceful. This is something we have not been seeing much in the last 1400 years, though…
I am completely against forcing or trying to persuade Muslims into condemning the recent attacks or anything similar in the manner we think fit. We should look at things with the basis of what people do, not what people do not do. Here is an outline of some research about Muslim approaches on some significant events and concepts in the world. The FACT that only a tiny majority of Muslims take part in terrorist attacks or harmful incidents is meaningless. Let us say 1%. Considering the population of Muslims in the world, this makes about 15 million people. 15 million lunatics who think they have nothing to lose and everything to gain should be a global concern and subject of “holy fucking shit” kind of panic. The “active” terrorists constitute probably much less than 1% in the Muslim world. I just gave the last example to point out that even a “tiny aggressive minority” among a population of 1.5 billion might be problematic. The point of this article is not about this tiny minority, but about the supporting majority. You can check the link right above, and I will not be providing you with the details of every study included there. Just one example: 61% of Egyptians approve attacks against the US. The ratio WAS 42% for Turkey. Things have changed in Turkey and Turkey has been proved much more of an unbearable place in the last 6 years. If we stick to the statistics in 2009, about 30 million people (only in Turkey) support attacks against the US. This is huge. The problem with the “only a tiny minority” approach is that people do not even try to understand the numbers. So, maybe much less than a few hundred people from Turkey actually participated in terrorist attacks, but the scarier fact is that tens of millions of people support such attacks. These people would not go bomb a synagogue or attack a person on a “usual” day, but we have seen how “such people” reacted during Gezi protests. They marched on the streets alongside the police, with hammers, axes and machetes and shouted “Allahu Aqbar”. The problem with Islam is not that tiny little minority everyone is talking about, but it is the majority that supports such actions, but are not brave enough to participate. They are our potential murderers and they are what we should be afraid of.
In order to keep this article as short as possible, I will finish with a test of morality. “Most” people in Turkey have been in support of the attacks against Charlie Hebdo in the last few days, and this information is derived from social media. Most of the Turkish population have no access to the internet, and they get their information mostly from either pro-government, or pro-islamist TV channels. So, the situation gets even worse. The thing we have been seeing the most in any discussion lately is that “yes, this was a horrible attack that took human lives, BUT, Muslims are discriminated against in France.”
So, I do not invite “all Muslims” who just happen to be Muslims to a condemnation, because I would contradict myself. I will just ask a question to the specific set of Muslims (they are not a minority) that actually tried every argument to justify the attacks on Charlie Hebdo or any person or organisation who challenged the islamic ideals:
If it is so easy to say “they killed people, but they were discriminated against”, why is it so hard to say anything close to “they discriminated against people, but the dudes just killed 12 people”?
I oppose both murder and discrimination, but it is not a matter of comparison. Human life is more important than anything, even the fairy tales you were systematically brought up to believe. In the mere attempt of just comparison, I ask: why is it so easy to justify murder with cases of discrimination, but so hard to justify discrimination with cases of horrible, blood-stained murder? Think about it.