Amid Humanity, Believer Cries for Help: The Rise of Islamophobia

According to Georgetown University, Islamophobia is an extreme fear of and hostility toward Islam and Muslims which often leads to hate speech, hate crimes, as well as social and political discrimination.

Standing tall beneath the same stars, but the look in their eyes was not as bright as we are. Sleeping in the warm-soft bed while the cries of the innocent pierce the night. I was around 15 when the TV screen showed the puffy eyes of the hijabi US citizen woman desperately asking for justice in that superpower country. At that moment, with my whole life raised by an Islamic family, my teenager’s mind built a level-1 madness towards Islamophobic people.

According to Georgetown University, Islamophobia is an extreme fear of and hostility toward Islam and Muslims which often leads to hate speech, hate crimes, as well as social and political discrimination. With it placed as the second most widely practiced religion in the world after Christianity, Islam, subjectively, remains the most hated religion in the world, at least in the West. The phrase of this term is not as simple as people being hateful towards Muslim people but it occurs to become serious and rumbling the humanity of today’s society. Islamophobia was recognized as a significant issue of concern in a 2011 meeting of the League of Arab States, a key ally, and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (Gallup, n.d.).

The Starting Point of Islamophobic

As the 9/11 incident appeared to be so-called the beginning of the islamophobia trend, however, this phobia term and propaganda towards Islam started in the middle-ages era and heavily pointed to the Crusades event that negative notions about Muslims were spread during this time to encourage Islamic wars and win over citizens of Europe as the Christian leader tried to  subjugate the  Muslim-ruled  land  in  the  Middle  East  region  (Kulik, 2024). Major period jumped to the Renaissance era where the expansion of the Ottoman Empire was also the time of the journey of Islamophobia in which many scholars believe that fear is buried in the minds of Europeans within the potential influence of Islamic countries (Kulik, 2024).

The hyperbola badly portrayed of Muslim people in the Ottoman Empire period has been embedded long ago amongst the West scholars and remains still until today. The misconception of those Western intellectuals and the world against Islam is when they view Islam as the bearer of a dominant civilization that seeks to colonize other civilizations, which often depicts Islam in the eyes of the world as a so-called ‘destroyer’ of the world.

The 9/11 incident, which was short for September 11, where it is the most fatal terrorist strike in American history was a suicide incident carried out by 19 terrorists connected to the Islamic extremist organisation al-Qaeda against American targets (Bergen, 2003). The mid-year gift in the quite regular year left a big-hole trauma for Americans where according to the 9/11 Museum, around 2,900 people were killed beyond New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania triggering enough for them to even build a national museum for this incident in the middle of crowded-hectic New York City. Since then, Islamophobia headlines – which have actually never lighted down – seem to have found the momentum to speak out even louder where the hate over Muslim people pierced the media at that time.

Human Rights Violations Against Muslim People

The mass use of Islamophobia trend was taking it too far to get into the serious stage where they are taking the basic human rights out of Muslim people. Too serious that even myself already gotten used to the human rights violation news against Muslims. Still struggling in the West, in the purported most beautiful country along with its language, France, ironically, served the highest number of islamophobia that even reached to disrupt the human rights of the Muslim people. France’s law restricted Muslim women from using headscarves (hijab) in classrooms in 2004 wherein further years, which in 2010, marked the passing of legislation in France that outlawed  face-covering  apparel  in  public,  mostly  targeting burqa-wearing women (Hajjat & Mohammed, 2023). The bad portrayed and the effort of the past legislation that harms Muslim people, especially women, are coming from France’s highest hierarchy itself, the prime minister, Emanuel Macron, who stated that headscarves or hijab does not align with France values (Al Jazeera, 2021).

Took almost 5,000 miles from France, in China, which took place in northwestern China, Uyghur is the place where many innocent Muslim people were tortured in the practice of ethnic cleansing. China is known for using communism as its form of government. But since 2017, The so-called  re-education  camp  is  home  to  between  800,000  and 2 million Uyghurs and other Muslims,  including  ethnic  Kazakhs  and  Uzbeks.  China  has  received  many  curses from the international world for the re-education camp where it conducts to have violated human rights through maltreatment, rape, torture, and in certain cases, a genocide in which most of the victims are women.

Not so far away from China, in the Southeast Asia region, in Myanmar for specific, the Rohingya case has been a serious issue for a long time. The discrimination towards the minority ethnic of the Muslim people has been running since the 1970s forcing them to flee to other states. Though many Rohingya have centuries-old roots in Myanmar, they remain considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In 2017, the military campaign initiated by the Myanmar government resulted in the forced migration of seven hundred thousand Rohingya. The government denies allegations made by rights groups that the government is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya (Albert & Maizland, 2020). The discrimination and the torture towards  Rohingya  people include the number of killings, enforced displacement, and sexual assault.

International Efforts to Combat Islamophobia

As this crisis is already taking it to a serious stage, the solution must also be serious. According  to the 2011 meeting of the League of Arab States, alongside the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Islamophobia is considered a significant concern that needs to be tackled. The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Nazila Ghane, in her report, stated the increase of hate towards Islam is the weak policies of diversity in which states are the responsible ones who should bring up the policies that promote diversity and freedom of expression, Ghane added.

In taking this concern into significant step, as many governments already passed legislation for anti-hate-crime by doing public awareness campaigns about Islam, the UN with 60 Member-States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the sponsors formulating the International Day to Combat Islamophobia which take the date on 15 March. This international day demands an international discussion on the growth of a culture of peace and tolerance built on respect for human rights and religious diversity.

Nevertheless, as the international world already puts efforts into reducing the hatred of Islam, after all, we can’t deny that there will always be people who will hate Islam even though there is already a lot of external intervention to combat this ‘phobia’. If we look through the wider glasses, other religions also received hate from the other parties, might be worse, such as anti-semitism (hate towards Jews). At the end of the day, the world cannot be fully at peace, at least for now, with seeing many kinds of hateful to each other.

Rania Felita Salsabila
Rania Felita Salsabila
Rania Felita Salsabila is in her first year of International Relation undergraduate student in Universitas Gadjah Mada who is interested in humanitarian issues. Eagerly passionate in music, politics, culinary and a new way to contribute to improve people’s welfare to be able to create a prosperous world. As an IR student that labeled myself as a human rights fighter, I'd love to deploy my interest through many volunteering events that allows me to interact more with people.