Saturday, May 04, 2013

On "Islamophobia" and hatred of Muslims

Martin Robbins in the Guardian has an interesting article about Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and whether they cross the fine line between criticism or mockery of Islam and Islamophobia.
On one hand, critics of the term "Islamophobia", like Oliver Kamm, rightly point out that it's ludicrous and censorious to conflate hostile coverage of areligion to xenophobia, as Mehdi Hasan appears to do. On the other, it's clear that there's a very real phenomenon of bigotry directed against Muslims, recklessly inflamed by elements of the press, that blurs at the edges into something barely distinguishable from racism, the last acceptable form of racial prejudice. Kamm described it neatly last year:
"There is something disturbing in public discourse about Islam. A segment of opinion cannot distinguish between Muslims and the theocratic fanatics of al-Qaeda. It holds to a conspiracy theory that genuinely does recall the ancient prejudice, given modern garb in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, against the Jews. This is not only a problem but a pathology and an evil."
Whatever you choose to call this phenomenon, it's clear that there's a line between criticism (or ridicule) of Islam, and bigotry against Muslims. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have blundered into that line with an alarming degree of recklessness.

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