Islamophobia in the West: Measuring and Explaining Individual Attitudes

Since the late 1980s, growing migration from countries with a Muslim cultural background, and increasing Islamic fundamentalism related to terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the US, have created a new research field investigating the way states and ordinary citizens react to these new phenomena. However, whilst we already know much about how Islam finds its place in Western Europe and North America, and how states react to Muslim migration, we know surprisingly little about the attitudes of ordinary citizens towards Muslim migrants and Islam. Islamophobia has only recently started to be addressed by social scientists.

With contributions by leading researchers from many countries in Western Europe and North America, this book brings a new, transatlantic perspective to this growing field and establishes an important basis for further research in the area. It addresses several essential questions about Islamophobia, including:

  • what exactly is Islamophobia and how can we measure it?
  • how is it related to similar social phenomena, such as xenophobia?
  • how widespread are Islamophobic attitudes, and how can they be explained?
  • how are Muslims different from other outgroups and what role does terrorism and 9/11 play?

Islamophobia in the West will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, religious studies, social psychology, political science, ethnology, and legal science.

Muslim women requested to remove headscarf for new Irish immigration card

Several Muslim women were asked to remove their headscarves for a new type of the Irish immigration certificate, known as Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card which is issued by the Garda (Irish police). This card includes the name, a photograph and other details of the card holder and serves as proof that the card holder is a legal resident in the Republic of Ireland.

The women approached the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), the major Sunni mosque in Ireland, located in Dublin, which has raised the issue with the police. According to Ali Selim, spokesperson of the ICCI, “the Garda representative showed understanding and acted promptly. Soon afterwards he confirmed to us that Muslim women would not be asked to remove their hijab. We are grateful for this prompt response. This is the inclusive Ireland that we are proud to be part of.”

The press office of the police referred to problems resulting from the implementation of the new system, while emphasising the police’s commitment to engage with various communities and to ensure that their particular needs are met.

British Muslim Group Attacks Gay Marriage Plans

19.03.2012

British PM David Cameron has presented a proposal to redefine marrigae and legalise gay marriage. Acording to Cameron, this redefinition is necessary, as any kind of relationships based on stability and commitment should be supported. Yet, Cameron’s proposal was attacked my Muslims and Sikhs in the UK. The Muslim Council of Britain, for instance, said that Cameron’s plans were „unnecessary and unhelpful“ (The Telegraph) and, furthermore, the proposal was „strikingly weak“. In their opinion, the recognition of civil partnerships was sufficient, as it gives homosexual and heterosexual couples equal rights.

Germany’s New President – Celebration and Skepticism

21.03.2012

Joachim Gauck was elected as the new head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany last week. The Mulsim organisations in Germany congratulated the new president to his election. The Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany, for instance, is hoping for a cooperative partnership between the Germany’s Muslim communities and associations and the new head of the state. The Council’s representatives were particularly optimistic about Gauck’s statement about the central importance of integration policy. Gauck said he wanted to follow on the path of his successor, Christian Wulff. Aiman Mazyek, Head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, also wished Gauck mall the best for his new position. He assured Gauck that the Muslims in Germany will make their contribution to the freedom and welfare of our state – but he also said they were hoping to become an integral part of German society.

 

Others are more sceptical about the election of Gauck. Mehmet Kilic, for instance, Turkish-born spokesman on integration for the Green Party group in the German parliament, considers Gauck to be the wrong choice fort he position. More specifically, he objects toGauck’s evident understanding for the views of Thilo Sarrazin, who published a highly controversial book (Germany does away with itself) in 2010 (as reported). Similarly, Kenan Kolat, head oft he Turkish Community in Germany, is still disappointed about Wulff’s designation, who had particularly lobbied for a stronger acceptance of Islam as part of Germany.

German Muslims Feel for Victims in Toulouse

22.03.2012

Following the shootings at a Jewish school in Toulouse last Monday and the subsequent killing of the Muslim gunman, an al-Qaeda sympathiser, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany expressed their sympathy for the victims’ families and friends. At the same time, the Head of the Council, Aiman Mazyek, compared the attacks to the right-wing extremist group NSU in Germany and expressed his concern that the events may encourage copycats. He called on the police to increase the surveillance of Islamic centres and institutions.

Muslim lesbian couple fight Canadian deportation

IFP Press – March 25, 2012

A Muslim lesbian couple who claim they will be killed if deported to their native Israel due to their sexuality is being given a second chance to remain in Canada. Iman Musa and Majida Mugrabi, of Toronto, arrived in Canada from Tel Aviv in 2007 and filed unsuccessful refugee claims that were appealed to the Federal Court of Canada.

Judge Roger Hughes on March 8 granted the couple another hearing by an Immigration and Refugee Board based on new information that shows one of Mugrabi’s cousin confessed to the “honour killing” of his sister 12-years ago. The couple in an emotional letter that was presented to court claimed they would be killed if turfed to Israel for being a same-sex Muslim couple.

The couple, through their lawyer, Daniel Kingwell, said they were pleased by the court’s decision but still fear for their lives.  “Musa’s brother has threatened to kill her if she does not leave her lesbian relationship and marry a male,” the women alleged. “There are several police complaints regarding the threats of her brother.”

Kingwell said the women will be killed if deported to Israel. No date has been set for a new hearing.

The Legacy of CBC’s ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’

Toronto.com – March 24, 2012

 

Before Little Mosque on the Prairie premiered on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2007, there were strategic meetings to discuss marketing and promotion. Confusion about how to promote the show was soon eclipsed by unhinged fears about what might happen after it aired. It is now in more than 80 foreign markets, including Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, South Africa and Spain.

The show premiered on January 9, 2007. Soon after, jitters over any mass protest — every media outlet from CNN to the New York Times dispatched reporters to do advance stories — vanished inside the fictional town of Mercy, Sask. Little Mosque was a lighthearted comedy. The first episode, like every one that would follow, was neither inflammatory nor uproarious. Unlike some American dramas that arrived after 9/11 — The Unit, Threat Matrix, E-Ring, Sleeper Cell, and most conspicuously, Fox’s 24 — the characters in Mercy were mercifully benign. They were just struggling to get through the day. They were, in a word, “normal.”

Minoo Derayeh, a professor in the department of humanities at York University, uses Little Mosque in class to draw attention to social issues inside modern-day Islam.  Ozlem Sensoy, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University, says The Cosby Show arrived during the Reagan era, during a time when heated rhetoric about brutish young black men and a dangerous ghetto culture was widespread.  “I think Little Mosque on the Prairie has a similar place. It also grew out of a particular social moment, 9/11, and had these pedagogical goals — teaching white folks about a different kind of Muslim person in the context in which Muslim men had become the new brute, the new group to be feared.”

Minelle Mahtani, a professor in the department of geography and program in journalism at the University of Toronto, has mixed feelings about Little Mosque. “The show has gone a long way in helping Western audiences see beyond the tired stereotype of Muslims as barbaric, exotic, dangerous and primitive,” she says. “But I think we have to be really careful about the ways we commodify Muslim identity through popular representations. Whose Muslim voice is showcased here?”

“I think it was a terrible comedy,” says broadcaster and author Tarek Fatah. “And I think it survived purely because of what I call ‘white man’s guilt.’ If this were any other group of people, it would have been shut down in a month. Most people watched it with the fear that if they didn’t laugh, they’d be considered racist. It was a massive fraud.”

In 2007, Little Mosque received an award from the Search for Common Ground, a human rights organization that had previously bestowed honours on Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter. That same year, the show was snubbed for a best comedy Gemini.

French women’s soccer match called off over hijab

March 19, 2012

A referee refused to officiate a French women’s football match, when players for one of the teams took the pitch wearing Muslim headscarves, the club involved said. The official sent a report to the Languedoc-Roussillon league in the south of the country about the incident involving players from Petit-Bard Montpellier, who had been due to play Narbonne in the regional promotion tie. The league must now decide whether to order the match to be replayed or to award a win to Narbonne.

Football’s world governing body FIFA banned players from wearing the Islamic headscarf in 2007, claiming it is unsafe. But football federations and even the United Nations have urged FIFA to lift the ban, maintaining that concerns about safety are baseless and that it discriminates against Muslim players, particularly when no such restrictions apply in other sports.

French mosque attacker kills one

News Agencies – March 16, 2012

A man armed with a baseball bat has attacked worshippers at a mosque in the northern city of Arras in Pas-de-Calais, France, killing one person and seriously wounding another, police say.
A suspect was detained after the incident. Police sources say the man is a 32-year-old French national of Moroccan origin. The man, who is being questioned, has a history of psychiatric problems, the sources said. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant condemned what he called an act of “unbelievable brutality”.

Sarkozy courting Muslims, accused of arranging for ‘Halal Bus’

News Sources – March 16, 2012

The UMP, the party led by Nicolas Sarkozy, is courting Muslims, and reportedly made long-distance buses available to them with separate sections for women and men. The buses were used to bring them to the large elections rally the presidential candidate held on Sunday in Villepinte. The head of the ”Diversities” section of Sarkozy’s election campaign Patrick Karam, brusquely denied the news. ”We have never engaged in this type of separation. We simply made specific buses available to some Muslim associations.”