“The global institutionalization of Islamophobia today shows that it is no longer specific to certain regions alone. Islamophobia can present itself in places where Muslims are minorities, where the Muslim presence lives only in memories, where there is no Muslim presence and, as a matter of fact, where Muslims are the majority. The majority of those who analyze Islamophobia studies see it as a manipulation of the media, or in some places, as a tool to control minorities. The predominant view of Islamophobia is simplified as all attitudes and acts against Muslims, or a conceptual category that brings forward those who wrong Muslims. Whereas, such a view is eventually very inclined to turn it into a reaction towards the wrong actions of Muslims. The problem of the globalization of Islamophobia should actually be tackled with a geopolitical approach that understands it as a subject of international relations, which are trying to completely re-establish the modern world order.”
These words belong to Salman Sayyid, the author of two powerful books titled, “Fundamentalizm Korkusu: Avrupa merkezciliğin Sonu ve İslamcılığın Doğuşu” (Fear of Fundamentalism: The End of Eurocentrism and Birth of Islam), which was published in 2002, and “Hilafeti Hatırlamak: Dekolonizasyon ve Dünya Düzeni” (Remembering the Caliphate: Decolonization and the World Order), which was published in 2017. The statements he made last weekend at the opening session of the “2nd International Islamophobia Conference” organized by Istanbul Zaim University’s Islam and Global Relations Center, is a good explanation with respect to the incredibly high number and strange manifestations and applications of Islamophobia today.
Sayyid added that a development such as “global democracy” is not something the current world order can accept. The West admire democracy in their own countries, yet they see democracy in Muslim countries or Latin American countries as an open threat to their own orders. Dictators under their control are a lot more suitable for the world outside their own.
Turkey is the sole country they cannot control in the world order due to its developed democracy. They are having problems with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who represents the only proper democracy in the Muslim world, and for this reason, they have no trouble at all with the Egypt of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who knows no rule and disregards human rights.
Hence, they are carrying out incredible campaigns to disrepute Erdoğan who is the person leading the only working democracy in the Islamic world. It is clear today that Islamophobia is what controls these campaigns, or is used as the instrument to which they resort in accordance with their campaigns. Islam truly does frighten, but not with killing, threats, or extremism – it does so with the democratic potential that always bears the likelihood of posing a problem to their own world order. Therefore, it is directly related to geopolitics.
It is perhaps a disappointing reality about democracy, but it has no such priority as preventing fascism, racism and massacres in other countries. Additionally, in their own Western countries, democracy is not incompatible with fascism. As we can see in today’s Europe, democracy is quite compatible with fascism. It is quite compatible with xenophobia too.
Far-right parties that best use hate speech against migrants, are able to gain prominence, come to power, or share the power in democracies – most of the time, if not always – with an advantage. Such examples of democracy in today’s Europe are in abundance.
In other words, fascism-compatible democracy, xenophobia-compatible democracy, socialism-compatible democracy. If democracy, which is compatible with everything and has no value of its own, is only questioned in terms of its compatibility with Islam, what does this signify and for whom?
Of course, this does not disregard the current need in the Muslim world for democracy as a method of administration, a method of political participation, the distribution of power, and a mechanism that ensures the supervision of institutions. However, without a doubt, it explains that democracy alone is not always enough, and that we need a lot more.
As a matter of fact, using Islamophobia in this manner has an aspect that leads to the deconstruction of Western democracies and unmasks them. Today’s world is increasingly witnessing examples of Islamophobia becoming more widespread. The more the demand for democracy increases in the Muslim world, we can expect Islamophobic discourses and practices to further deepen in the West.
This contradiction will be one of the main paradoxes of the future world. Because, as Sayyid also says, terrorism in the name of Islam is not the reason for Islamophobia. What leads to Islamophobia is nothing other than Islamophobia’s destructive, genocidal nature.
A logic that justifies Islamophobia will start working within democracy’s own operation. The reactions toward the never-before-seen savage Muslim massacre in New Zealand is an effect of the increasing normalization of Islamophobia and considering it legitimate, along with its results.
Also, as a typical example, there is a treatment Muslim doctor Muhammed Abu-Salha, whose two daughters and son-in-law were killed in the U.S., encountered from congress members as he was giving an account of what happened to him as an example of “hate cries and rising white racism” recently at the U.S. Congress justice committee. This is a case that deserves to be analyzed as a completely separate incident. In response to the grieving father, whose daughters were killed in an atrocious murder by a racist Islamophobe, simply because he could not stand to see the girls wearing hijab, bold statements were made and questions trying to excuse the murderer were asked.
There is no doubt that this incident is more critical than the massacre itself. We will focus a little on this incident to serve as a lesson another time.