City College: Effects of Islamophobia

Islamophobia has severe repercussions on Muslims in particular and Western society in general.

Discriminatory Legislation

A number of countries have enacted draconian anti-terrorism laws in a knee-jerk reaction to the media-led “war on terror”. Ostensibly meant to counter extremism and safeguard national security, the brunt of such legislation, in reality, falls invariably on the Muslim community. These discriminatory laws, besides being unconstitutional in nature, are usually in violation of the fundamental rights of citizens, regardless of their religious background, and include selective surveillance of the Muslim community, search operations in Muslim-dominated areas, as well as racial profiling and arbitrary detention, with legal help denied in many cases.

Ramped up Security

Everyday life has been severely affected by the sudden need for more security. Cameras have become ubiquitous at public and private places and no longer restricted to high-risk government offices, posing an intrusion of private space. Airport security, for example, has taken on a whole new meaning, with seemingly innocuous objects such as body lotions and aerosols in the growing list of forbidden onboard articles. Personal frisking is now standard, with long queues at Immigration and Custom Clearance points. Increased security measures inevitably lead to more operational costs, delays, stress, fatigue and general inconvenience, with the blame falling on Muslims as the cause for all troubles.

Rising Anti-Muslim Sentiment

The growing divide between Muslims in the West and Western society at large has since become wider and worse. Muslims rated most negatively of all religious groups in a 2017 Pew poll with an average rating of 48 on a scale of 0-100, below atheists, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. 61% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, while 57% believe Islam is at odds with the American way of life. This toxic atmosphere has stifled debate and political participation by Muslims for fear being labeled as “extremists”, while routine expressions of piety such as prayer and “Halal” food create the risk of being interpreted as “radicalization”.

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