Last week, a racist attack carried out by a German in Germany targeted two separate hookah bars, resulting in the deaths of 5 Turks and 11 others. This attack once again brought rising racism and Islamophobia to the forefront. Muslims living in the West are worried once more.
Islamophobia is a state of feeling hatred or discomfort towards Islam and Muslims. Although its historical roots go back a long way, the milestone for contemporary Islamophobia is the September 11 attacks. After this date, irresponsible or intentional media coverage in the West fueled reactions and hatred towards Islam and Muslims worldwide. Muslims were demonized and criminalized by continuously associating terms like “Muslim,” “Islam,” and “terrorism.”
The rise of Islamophobia can be attributed to various external factors. During the colonial era, the West’s invasion and colonization of Muslim countries, and the jihadist reactions that emerged as a response, led to the emergence of extremist groups and armed organizations in the Islamic world. The West’s destabilizing approach to the Middle East, supposedly in the fight against Islamist terrorist groups, further fueled radicalization. As radical groups sought revenge from the West, they resorted to asymmetric methods and practices not endorsed by Islam. The West’s invasive and destabilizing actions triggered radical Islamic tendencies, and the violence and terrorism attributed to Muslims fueled Islamophobia, creating a vicious cycle. We have previously discussed these factors in our article titled “Why is Islamophobia Rising?,” which can be referred to for further details.
Beyond these factors, another significant factor contributing to the rise of Islamophobia is the attitude and behavior of Muslims living in the West. There is a significant Muslim population in the democratic Western world, with some being descendants of Muslims who came from countries like Turkey and settled in countries like France and the UK through former colonies. However, in recent times, numerous individuals from destabilized countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, as well as those facing oppression in authoritarian countries like Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, have migrated or are migrating to Western countries in search of safety, prosperity, and peace. Some with economic means and education come through legal channels, while large groups of people attempt to reach the West through human trafficking and perilous sea journeys, risking their lives. As a result, there is a massive influx of migrants and refugees from generally Third World countries, predominantly Muslim countries, to democratic Western countries. Out of every ten refugees seeking asylum in Europe, nine are Muslims. As long as the authoritarian regimes, oppression, underdevelopment, injustice, and inequality continue in Islamic regions, despite all obstacles, this migration and refugee influx will persist.
The very act of migration and seeking asylum, the visibility of the Muslim population and Islamic symbols, the negative impact of migration on the economy and unemployment, and the political exploitation by right-wing parties all contribute to the rise of Islamophobia. Furthermore, the behavior of Muslims living in the West triggers Islamophobia. Unfortunately, as Muslims in the West, we are either unaware or indifferent to this reality. We fail to take measures against this impending threat, and we do not contemplate potential solutions.
What attitudes, behaviors, and actions of Muslims trigger Islamophobia?
- Lack of work ethics.
- Importing the dirty and conflict-ridden politics of the Middle East into Western countries and becoming pawns in local politics.
- Living in ghettos and maintaining a Third World atmosphere within these ghettos.
- Resisting learning the language. There are still many Turks living in Germany for generations who do not speak German.
- Neglecting the education of our children and delaying their integration.
- Disregarding the rules and engaging in illegal activities in the country we reside.
- High tendency for criminal behavior, with many Muslims involved in various criminal networks.
- Exploiting social benefits and the concept of a welfare state.
- Ignoring the rights of fellow Muslims, but considering it a religious duty to avoid harming non-Muslims.
- Continuing to look down on Westerners as “impure infidels,” despite seeking refuge in their lands, benefiting from their laws, democracy, and peaceful environment.
- Resorting to conspiracy theories and stories instead of working, producing, understanding, explaining, and convincing, and using these as excuses for laziness and backwardness.
- Failing to consider the concerns of the societies in which we live, essentially living as if they do not exist. Refusing to engage in dialogue or make efforts to convince them that we do not pose a threat.
- Failing to unequivocally condemn terrorism and violence perpetrated by Muslims. Those who condemn such acts tend to be hesitant in showing it.
- Misunderstanding Islam as merely abstaining from eating pork, being circumcised, or reducing it to rituals, instead of recognizing it for its beautiful ethics and proper conduct. Attempting to forcefully impose a version of Islam that we do not represent.
- Perceiving all Western societies as homogeneous and treating them all as “infidels.” Adopting a generalized and erroneous perception of the West and Westerners.
- Benefitting from the resources and opportunities of the West to the fullest, often undeservedly, while not making any effort to contribute to solving the problems of these societies or creating value.
The rise of Islamophobia is already happening due to various reasons, such as the opportunistic approaches of right-wing politicians, the actions of radical organizations falsely associated with Islam, historical conflicts, political disputes, and so on. However, Western Muslims are irresponsibly continuing their lives without showing any concern or making significant efforts to eliminate the reasons causing Islamophobia or to fight against it in effective dialogues with democratic individuals and human rights advocates in those countries.
The Muslim population and proportion in the Western world are increasing rapidly, and this trend will continue in the future. This is because there is no sign of improvement in the areas of law, human rights, and justice in Muslim countries, nor does it seem likely. As long as we continue to remain silent in the face of oppressive rulers and the unjust order in our countries, we will keep fleeing to the West, seeking refuge in democratic nations. However, just as the body tries to discard things it cannot adapt to and perceives as foreign, these societies where we seek shelter and rely on their laws, justice, and peaceful environment will eventually refuse to carry us any longer. Even democratic countries experience periods of breakdown and interruptions, and during such times, immigrants and foreigners are the first ones to suffer.
A looming threat is rapidly approaching Western Muslims. If we fail to strive for reducing the dosage of rising racism, combating increasing Islamophobia, and representing true Islam and Muslims, then I fear we will face even greater hardships in the near future. These societies will want to rid themselves of Muslims like us. At the very least, they will turn a blind eye to the rhetoric of racists and Islamophobes.
This article was originally published in TR724.com on February 27, 2020 and translated into English by Politurco.