Confronting Islamophobia: A Call for Global Solidarity

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Confronting Islamophobia: A Call for Global Solidarity

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JAKARTA (ANTARA): An international conference titled “Embracing Diversity: Tackling Islamophobia in 2024” took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, coinciding with the eve of Ramadan and the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. This conference holds deep significance as Azerbaijan reaffirms its commitment to combating Islamophobia on the modern front.

Last year, Baku hosted another conference in partnership with the G20 Interfaith Dialogue Forum, focusing on “Islamophobia as a Specific Form of Racism and Discrimination: New Global and Transnational Challenges.” While last year’s conference aimed to contribute to efforts against Islamophobia, this year’s objective extends to developing concrete solutions and fostering global solidarity to address its root causes.

Islamophobia, a term combining Islam and phobia, signifies the fear of Islam, which has historical roots tracing back to Europe since the 7th century. The fear intensified with the arrival of immigrants from Muslim countries in the 14th century and was exacerbated by events like the European Crusades and the expulsion of Muslims from Andalucia.

This prejudice finds its roots in colonialism, Orientalism, and the East-West dichotomy. Western societies have long associated Islam with negative stereotypes, propagated by cultural, academic, and imperial works portraying Eastern cultures as inferior.

The escalation of Islamophobia spiked after significant events such as Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa in 1989 and the 9/11 attacks. The term itself gained prominence in the 1980s amid controversies surrounding Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” and later efforts to counter harmful actions and rhetoric against Islam and Muslims in the West.

Today, Islamophobia is on the rise globally, with instances of discrimination, intolerance, and violence against Muslims becoming increasingly prevalent. Western countries, despite espousing democratic values, have integrated Islamophobia into their state policies, with France notably promoting it through legislative acts and discriminatory practices.

France’s recent actions, including banning religious clothing in public spaces and targeting Muslim students, highlight the institutionalization of Islamophobia. Similar injustices are perpetrated by governments in Israel, India, and China against Muslim populations, perpetuating discrimination and violating human rights.

Azerbaijan, too, has experienced Islamophobia, evident in the deliberate destruction of its Islamic heritage during Armenia’s occupation of its lands. President Aliyev emphasizes the need to combat Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism, asserting that associating terrorism with any civilization or ethnic group only fuels division and conflict.

In the 21st century, there is no place for such prejudices. It is imperative for global communities to stand in solidarity against Islamophobia, safeguarding humanism and universal values for a more harmonious world.

*Mohammad Anthoni*