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Islamophobia dehumanizes Muslims

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Islamophobia dehumanizes Muslims

One of the more visible and sinister end-results of both dated and contemporary islamophobia is the dehumanization of Muslims.
The demonizing of Muslims, which seems to have begun from the 11th century’s crusades and subsequently never ended, has always followed a pattern of fear and hate that has led to violence. Today this violence either comes at an individual level where hatred resulting in murders is relabeled a “parking dispute”, as was the case in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or at a state level where innocent lives, mostly innocent Muslim lives become nothing more than collateral damage in the game of nations. What does not matter is if the killing is the result of actual malice or is the result of policy that is based on a complete lack of value of Muslim life.

How many civilian Muslim lives have been lost since the beginning of the 21st century? The numbers probably run into the millions. If viewed separately they could seem just like random isolated events but if taken as a whole with a common theme it seems more like the extermination of one species- commonly known as Muslims. One example to be taken is the Iraq war. Originally blamed on the existence of weapons of mass destruction which most people knew did not exist, in retrospect it seems to have been a war based on lies fueled by anger and hatred against Muslims in response to September 11th’s terrorist attacks. If Iraq was not a Muslim country, many more steps to verify the authenticity of the existence of such weapons would have been undertaken and the probability of a military offensive would have been much lower. However as it was only Muslims lives at stake there was no downside. In that case innocent Muslim life was not given cardinal importance; had it been any other nation not populated by a majority of Muslims the event would have been classified as war crimes against humanity. Another example to be taken is the case of drone strikes. Presidential orders can make these legal but they cannot be made morally correct or justified. Pre-emptive strikes lacking due process are plain and simple assassinations no matter which way they are viewed. Sometimes drone strikes are carried out on American citizens, but again because the casualties are of Muslims the deaths are inconsequential.

Recently two identical events, both terrorist attacks, one in Paris and the other in Turkey, garnered two very different reactions and spun much of the same narrative. The governmental response, and the press and companies like Facebook and Google did not even have much of a reaction for the Turkey attacks, but everyone wept and showed solidarity for the victims at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In Turkey the blood that was spilled was insignificant because today Muslim blood has no value. Even if the stage is changed, to say Afghanistan, Gaza, or Syria – the play does not change.  The policies and actions that are driven by either hatred or fear or lack of regard for Muslim life, have the same result of Muslim deaths.

What is more is that none of this killing effectively establishes peace- it results in more terrorism, which results in more islamophobia. This leads to more Muslim killings and the vicious circle continues. In this supposed age of enlightenment where everyone enjoys basic human rights, for Muslims it is considered a privilege and not a right to be treated with dignity. If that were not the case then in this age of political correctness where it is nearly impossible to formulate a single sentence without offending someone- Muslims and Islam would not be fair game for everyone. People are free to openly insult and degrade; whether they are handymen in Texas or presidential candidates, the treatment of Muslims is the same. Insulting the Islamic Prophet is considered freedom of press, and criticizing Israel is thought to be anti-Semitic. This is because Muslims do not have any real fundamental rights; not even the most fundamental of rights, which is the freedom to live. More people are upset at the killing of fish due to oil leaks than the Muslim victims of drone strikes. This lack of importance given to Muslim life is just one of the more perverse consequences of islamophobia.

Umer Mahmood
Umer Mahmood obtained his B.A. in Mass Communication from The Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University in Indiana. He currently is the head of marketing at IRDP and oversees project management on the IRDP medical initiative, islamophobia video series, website blog contributions, marketing, and journal publishing.