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The Long History of Islam as a Collective “Other” of the West and the Rise of Islamophobia in the U.S. after Trump

In the last two decades, Islamophobia in the West has become mainstream. Covertly, Islamophobia is the last link in the chain of a long tradition of Eurocentrism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and racism. This article analyzes the recent rise of Islamophobic policies and practices in the United States. In particular, the false fear of Islam, which carried Trump into power, seems to have turned into a ‘reason’ for all kinds of violence and oppression against Muslims both domestically and abroad.

The Long History of Islam as a Collective Other of
People gather during a commemoration ceremony for Nabra Hassanen, a victim of the increasing Islamophobically inspired hate crimes in the U.S., who was murdered as she came out of the late-night prayers at a local mosque in Fairfax, Virginia on June 18, 2


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a phobia is “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” As implied in this description, the source of the horror is mostly meaningless and illogical, but it influences the flow of life in many respects. Over the last few decades, a particular kind of phobia has gripped Western societies: Islamophobia.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) defines Islamophobia as a “closed-minded hatred, fear or prejudice toward Islam and Muslims that result in discrimination, marginalization, and oppression.”1 Ali and colleagues define Islamophobia as “an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.”2 Runnymede Trust’s Commission defines Islamophobia as “an unfounded hostility towards Islam, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” This report found that the term was used firstly by an American newspaper reporter in 1991.3

When Islam is defined as an enemy from an Islamophobic perspective, people become less open to discover its real appearance

Islamophobia refers to stereotypical and negative attitudes held primarily by mostly non-Muslims (though ironically sometimes by some Muslims) and directed toward Islam, Muslims, and parts of Islamic culture. Sourcing from these wrong images “It creates a distorted understanding of Islam and Muslims and transforms diversity in name, language, culture, ethnicity, and race into a set of stereotyped characteristics.” For this reason “Islamophobia is a system of both religious and racial animosity.

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