Having discussed the issue of Islamophobia existing, I believe we are ready to discuss the effects of the issue for Muslims alongside what our role in the issue may be. There is always a way to make a difference, even as an individual! Islamophobia is a society-wide problem, not just for Muslims. A lot of the time, many attacks are targeted towards other minorities, simply because of the fact that perpetrators believe them to be Muslim. Knowing that issues like this still have weight among us is a sobering fact and we should be doing all in our power to counteract the idea of restricting the freedom to practice religion.
So what’s the first step to countering the problem?
Admit that it exists and that you have a responsibility to engage with any incidents you witness.
‘Islamophobia’ is a term on par with ‘feminist’ in that the connotations around it have become warped and it has become a political statement rather than an issue. However, it is the only term which exists and though you may be hesitant to align yourself with it, you must because it exists and it continues to cause a lot of grief to Muslims.
I have discussed in previous blog posts how the media, particularly mainstream broadcast media, perpetuates myths of Islam being a religion of violence and its followers terrorists. Often, that which is different is to be feared. We cannot let this motivate us and though many of us believe ourselves to be worldly, unless we talk to Muslims or other cultural groups, most of our exposure is limited to mass media outlets. You cannot recognise implicit bias unless you know what it is. You may not even realise it but in many debates, you may only know one side and unless you actively go looking, you will never be exposed to another viewpoint. A lot of negativity is ingrained within you and you must be able to identify when this is holding you back.
One way to do this is to go talk to a Muslim person! Find out your differences and know that it’s okay for them to think differently to you! You may not follow the same religion but you do have the same ultimate goals and values in life. They are not there to threaten you. Another way is to go actively looking for arguments against that with which you have an issue. Do you believe the burqa should be banned for national security reasons? Here’s a reason why it shouldn’t.
Look to yourself. One word can make all the difference. No one can change your attitude if you do not try for yourself.