Roots and Causes of Islamophobia Bangladesh Perspective By Monirul Islam
Islamophobia is usually interpreted as rootless fear, antagonism, and prejudice and stereotyping against Muslims and Islamic monuments all over the world which was introduced even in era of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). In 1985, Edward Said first used the term in arguing the close relationship between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. However, this unfounded hostility against Muslim and Islam results discrimination and exclusion of Muslims from the mainstream economic, social, political and cultural affairs and consequently, Muslims have been victimized of hate crime and racial problems..
Twenty century experienced the two world wars that caused the death of millions of people all over the world. The cold war between America and Soviet Union have undergone for many decades to dominate the world substantially .two prominent political ideologies were the player of that battle. But after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990, the West lost its enemy, so the west targeted Islam as their major rivalry and threat to the neo liberal policy according to the clash of civilization theory generated by Samuel Huntington in 1996. Since then Islam has become the main opponent of western people and media. Finally in the context of the post 9/11 world, American white supremacist and Christian terrorists began to humiliate the American Muslims in the name of terrorism and ‘War on Terror’.
After the incident of 9/11 terrorist attack, the west took the chance to legalize their heinous activities against Islamic sentiment that risen Islamophobia widely over the world. Western media served as propaganda tower against Muslim and Islam portraying the Muslims as terrorist and played negative rule in cinema. In this connection the imperialist America and Britain ravaged the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and made the Middle East politically destabilized which caused the death of hundreds and thousands of people in the region and has upraised a perpetual political instability in many Muslim countries over the world. Even Islamophobic incidents have been taking place in countries where Muslim communities are almost very few. In some central European states, Muslims are facing the hate crime based on the false notion linking with terrorism. Due to Some European Muslim unfriendly governments and right-wing politicians have been openly expressing anti-Muslim opinions that increases hate crime and anti-Muslim sentiments amplified within the country.
Pew Research Center, as it released the results of a new survey of Muslims nationwide that highlighted a broad sense of anxiety and unease about their place in the United States. A nationally representative sample of 1,001 Muslim adults were surveyed by telephone between January and May 2017, and the report wrote that with 48 percent of respondents saying they were subjected to at least one discriminatory incident based on religion over the past year, comparing to 40 percent a decade ago. A large majority — 75 percent — said there was discrimination against Muslims in the United States. Nearly three-quarters said Trump was unfriendly toward Muslims. The survey also said that most of the American public did not consider Islam a part of mainstream Society. Overall, there were 307 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2016, marking a 19% increase from the previous year. According to Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), in 2016, the most frequent type of incidents included harassment (16 percent), violent hate crimes (15 percent), FBI targeting victims (12 percent), intimidation (12 percent) and cases involving the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (8 percent. (CAIR) California reported hate incidents in California went up almost 50 percent between 2015 and 2016.the last barbaric terrorist attack on Muslim in New Zealand on March 15 where 49 Muslims have been killed at a time .the perpetrator was an Australian white supremacist.
In the context of the post-9/11 world, many countries are moving towards the process of secularization often limiting and sometimes totally wiping out Islamic influence from the political and social landscapes. Perceiving and constructing Islam and its symbols as a “political threat” to the local regimes and their relationship with the Centre of the neo-liberal world, many Muslim countries are aggressively trying to emasculate Islamic influence in politics.
In this succession, Bangladesh a dominantly Muslim majority country has been greatly affected by islamophobia caused fear of Muslim and created anti-Islamic sentiment to the mind of people. Scholars thought that Islamophobia does not exist in Bangladesh as it’s a Muslim majority country but this notion has been changed overwhelmingly from last few years Though the incidents of Islamophobia in Bangladesh is not acute, but anti-Islamic sentiment is increasing very fast over the country which is the agenda of secularist and leftist communities .
The University students frequently severely attacked by ruling party’s student wing with the connection of performing prayers and abiding by basic principles of Islam. Recently Abrar Fahad, a student of Bangladesh university of Engineering and technology (BUET) have been killed brutally by the student wing of Awami League because Abrar used to perform prayer and call everyone for prayer as its confessed by the perpetrators in court.
The ultra-secularists in Bangladesh are often seen to maintain an extreme rebuff and a total antagonism towards a particular religion, which in this case is Islam .The hatred against Veils, hijab and other Islamic attires are gradually becoming sporadic in the schools, colleges and universities and many other private and public institutions which is the fundamental things of Islam. This trend has started from France in 2010 when President Nicolas Sarkozy passed a bill in Senate resulting the ban of burka hijab and other veils covering face in public place. In 2016 several French coastal towns implemented a Burkini ban, a swimming suit for Muslim women, after government officials said that it raised concerns around security. By now there are at least 12 (twelve) European countries who have banned veil, headscarf, hijab, niqab, and burqa such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, and Albania but in Bangladesh, girls faces discrimination and negligence in private and public universities who wear Hijab or Burka though this is not illegitimate in the eye of state law.
Liking Islamic political party with militancy and spreading propaganda against Islamic teaching is the common target of secularist writers, bloggers and Media and they are playing crucial rule in disseminating anti-Islamic sentiments in Bangladesh. The drama, cinema and movies are secularizing where Muslims are presented as terrorist or incorporated with negative rule which increases the hate crime against pious Muslim. The book of schools and madrasah are influenced by secular thoughts and ideology that grossly undermines religious and moral education. Already many changes have taken place in the syllabus of madrasah education which is the ultimate attempts of secularizing the education system of Bangladesh. Sometimes, Religious gatherings and meeting also banned by law enforcing agency in the pretext of preaching fundamentalism.
The ultra-secularist element with the regime is a minority in terms of number but a majority in terms of influence and power. The aggressive policies of secularization are largely driven by this influential few. Need to keep in mind that In Bangladesh religion, particularly Islam is a deep-rooted social institution. Social norms and other interactions in the country have largely been originated and are guided by Islamic principles. Therefore, abrupt replacement of Islam from the social fabrics and political arena will potentially disrupt social cohesion to and generate massive opposition from the masses.
To combat Islamophobia, the roots and causes of this effect, and many misconceptions and mistaken beliefs should be detected and develop individual skills and institutional strategies for recognizing and confronting prejudice and discrimination against Muslim in Bangladesh.it’s also needed that the participation of Muslims in the common social programs, ensuring political insights and making a dominant position in society to spread that Islam is the religion of peace, harmony and tolerance.
The author is a student of Masters of Department of Sociology at University of Dhaka, Program Intern at United Nations Development Program (UNDP).