The Threat of Islamophobia… Within the Muslim World!

The Independent published an article a while back called “Coverage of Muslims and Islam in UK media is mostly negative, study finds.” This article was based on a 162-page study:

The report by the Centre for Media Monitoring analysed more than 48,000 online articles and 5,500 broadcast clips from 34 media organisations that mentioned Islam and Muslims between 2018 and 2019.

The study, commissioned by the Muslim Council of Britain, found that almost 60 per cent of articles portrayed Islam negatively and one in five associated the faith with terrorism or extremism.

This is, of course, nothing new.

There have been many books and research articles compiled and published in relation to the Islamophobia industry, and while the majority of these focus on the US and especially the War on Terror, there have been specific studies pertaining to Islamophobia in the UK as well. One example is Leonie B. Jackson’s Islamophobia in Britain: The Making of a Muslim Enemy. Within this book, the author traces British Islamophobia back to colonialism and Orientalism (so way before 9/11), and she examines the issue mainly through the lens of Critical Race Theory.

Basically, everyone knows about Western Islamophobia, though timely reminders that often show up in the form of these studies are still very much welcome. Western Islamophobia could even be considered to be somewhat “expected” (since after all, Islam stands against their liberal world-system), but when have you ever seen anyone talking about the Islamophobia found… within the Muslim world?

“Indigenous Islamophobia”?

In 2018, Routledge released a book with an intriguing title: Islamophobia in Muslim Majority Societies. The book was edited by Farid Hafez and Enes Bayrakli. The work is a compilation consisting of chapters written by various authors, all pertaining to Islamophobia within different geographical locations in the Muslim world (Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Albania, and so on).

As we’re not doing a complete book review, we’ll just be presenting a select few representative excerpts.

In chapter 4, Syed Furrukh Zad Ali Shah writes about how Pakistan’s elite promotes blatant Islamophobia through their secular and modernist projects:

Pakistan, with a 97 per cent Muslim population and a declared Islamic Republic, has a smaller, yet formidable section of society that corresponds to Islamophobic currents. These Westernized secular power elites share similar anti-Islam sentiments, rooted in traditional Western discourses of secularism and modernity. Furthermore, modern resurgence of political Islamism and its conflation with violence also demonizes the religion in general, which is embedded in local cultural traditions and social customs. Religion that is seen as anti-modern and irrational has to be disposed of if society is to be reformed and modernized.[1]

And as the author demonstrates, this is not something restricted only to Pakistan. Rather, it extends to pretty much any Muslim country where the “post-colonial” elite ironically believes that “development” is attained by force, in the same way that colonialists tried to implement it.

To highlight a single example, think of the emphasis placed on “girls’ education.” And then there’s the fact that this “education” absolutely must take place in a secular setting—not a madrasah, never!—and obviously, following Western ideals and values.

RELATED: Become Feminists or Starve! The UN Pushes Girls Education in Afghanistan

In chapter 9, Sahar El Zahed examines the “internalized Islamophobia” in the Egyptian media.

You’d assume that such a thing wouldn’t happen in a country where around 90% of the citizens are Muslims, but the author shows how Islam is constantly associated in the mainstream media with “violence,” “backwardness,” etc., and this is something that has intensified significantly since Sisi usurped power in 2014.

In fact, one of the most Islamophobic quotes that she presents is from Sisi himself, from “a speech at Al-Azhar University during the anniversary of the Prophet” :

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing – and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! That thinking – I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sanctified over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible![2]

Consider the occasion. Consider the place. He couldn’t possibly have found a better time to describe Islam as a—if not the—source of all of humanity’s problems!

As a thought exercise, it may also be interesting to reproduce this notion of “indigenous Islamophobia” with secular rulers and “decolonial privilege.” Imagine a “White imperialist” using the exact words used by Sisi. He would be lambasted. But a Brown man with a name that sounds Islamic can somehow get away with openly saying such things; or banning the Hijab; or changing the language’s script, etc., all in the name of “modernity” (which is itself the product of the “White imperialist”). Yet for some reason, he’ll face no significant opposition. In fact, he might even be praised as a “leader” or as the “father of the nation”!

RELATED: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: The Man Who Tried to Destroy Islam

Islamophobia is universal because liberalism has become universal as well (through “globalization”) and found willing allies (the loyal minions that are propped up as our so-called “elite”) within the Muslim world.

Allah says in the Noble Qur’an (4:137-140):

As to those who have believed, then disbelieved, then believed, then disbelieved, then increased in disbelief—never will Allah forgive them. Nor will He guide them to [the right] way.

Give [heavy] tidings to the hypocrites, [as well,] that for them there is a most painful torment [awaiting in the Hereafter.

For they are] the ones take the disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do they seek from them the indomitable protection of might? For verily Allah possesses all might soever!

Moreover, [recall that] He has already sent down to you [a commandment] in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah being belied and mocked at [by people], then do not sit with them until they take up some other discourse. [For,] indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed, Allah shall gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hellfire, all together.

Notes

[1] Syed Furrukh Zad Ali Shah, “Post-coloniality, Islamization and secular elites: tracing Islamophobia in Pakistan” in Enes Bayraklı & Farid Hafez, Islamophobia in Muslim Majority Societies, Routledge, 2018, p.66.

[2] Sahar El Zahed, “Internalized Islamophobia: The making of Islam in the Egyptian media” in Enes Bayraklı & Farid Hafez, Islamophobia in Muslim Majority Societies, Routledge, 2018, p.151.

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akh

You’d assume that such a thing wouldn’t happen in a country where around 90% of the citizens are Muslims,..”

Egyptian media is largely in the hands of Coptic Christians. Naguib Sawaris in particular. Same goes for the entertainment sector at large in the Arab world. Muslims have tended to stay away from these type of jobs because of the haram associated with it. Many of the people who work in this field came from religious minorities. Communists have also been historically overrepresented.

akh

Azmi Bishara is another very influencial person in Arab media. He is a communist from a Christian Palestinian background. He and his brother Marwan are basically the brains of Al-Jazeera. If you ever wondered why AJ+ and AJ English produce alot of un- and anti-Islamic content now you know why. Faisal al-Qassam the prime face of AJ Arabic is Druze.

akh

Before moving to MSNBC one of the big names at AJ English was Mehdi Hasan who has a Iraqi Shiite background. Typically when you look at Arab media it is build like this:

top execs: Westerners often British or American (like Sam Barnett CEO of MBC Group…largest media corp. in the ME)
management: Arab Christians….Lebanese Christians in particular
middle management: Shiites and other minorities

Muslims sometimes can get a presenting role but they have to be very secularized.

Ahmed Shaikh

So looks like only Al-Jazeera Arabic version is run by muslims?

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

Every news channel trys to adapt to its target audience, in the case of Al-Jazeera Arabic, their target audience are the populations of all arab countries in general, who are mostly Muslims. Most news channels need a big audience to be able to survive (unless they get financed from third parties(government, corporations or billionaire “philanthropes”), that’s why they adapt to the audiences (even though they push hidden agendas with secret techniques like subversion).

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

That’s a very good observation, I believe that there can be made a lot of articles about that fact.
The media, film industry, music industry, entertainment industry, etc ; in the whole arab world and the Muslim world at large ;are in the hands of non muslims(including westernized “muslilms”) , because like you point out real practicing Muslims have avoided those career paths because of the haram associated with it. This explains the push for westernization in the media, movies, etc.

Last edited 2 months ago by Yusuf ibn Tashfin
Wee Jim

 almost 60 per cent of articles portrayed Islam negatively 
…and what percentage of articles about other religions or religions in general portray them negatively? Some religions – scientology or the moonies, for example – are probably portrayed negatively in nearly every article that mentions them.