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Christians must speak against Islamophobia

Justin Yun discusses the history of xenophobia in America and urges Americans and Christians to love their neighbors.  |  Illustration by Trevor Lunde/THE CHIMES

 

The term “Islamophobia” is a fairly new term in mainstream language. However, the fear derived from it is the same hate derived from the narrative of racism and xenophobia continuing to define the American persona.

UNFOUNDED HOSTILITY

The response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the growing number of hate crimes against mosques and American Muslims displays Islamophobia’s existence in our country. According to UC Berkeley’s Center for Race & Gender, the term “was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined as ‘unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims’…and based on the more common ‘xenophobia framework.’”  

Islamophobia grew out of the post-9/11 era, when the U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in what was to be one of the U.S.’s longest and most costly wars to date. The narrative of the wars in the Middle East is complex and requires much focus. But it is evident war has inseminated an “us versus them” mentality in the American population.

This divisive fear and hate for “the other” is rooted in our nation’s founding as a settler-colonial nation, and has become perpetuated by war culture and our legacy of imperialism. To see ISIS as the representative of Islam or to see Muslims as terrorists is a product of not only our country’s deep racism, but also because of our inability to see the world without fear and with an open mind.

NOT REPRESENTATIVES

The tragedies that occurred in France, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and even here in the states were carried out by Islamic extremists, however we must ensure we do not take the actions of a handful of extremists as representatives of 1.6 billion Muslims. A large number of Muslim moderates have already condemned this violence through social media as well as official statements from leaders. History has shown fear and hate could be easily exploited by the state and political leaders to push their own political agendas and create imagined threats.

The fundamentalism and extremism that arises from places like Saudi Arabia and manifests itself into brutal groups like ISIS are products of decades of war and conflict. Cornel West writes in Democracy Matters, “The recent waves of Islamic revitalization movements — be they fundamentalist or not — are a quest for a new identity of subjugated Muslims in response to failed secular nationalist experiments.” West continues to claim, “In the poor developing world [like the Middle East], identity is a matter of life and death.”

EDUCATING OURSELVES

To educate ourselves about the world is to eradicate the hate and fear born out of ignorance. Those who associate Islam with terrorism are generally the first ones to become silent when told that it is Southeast-Asia, and not the Middle East that holds the largest concentrations of Muslims in the world. The hate and fear begeted from Islamophobia is the same hate and fear that fueled the forced internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WWII and the rejection of Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany in 1939.

Renowned writer and social critic James Baldwin famously said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once the hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” As humans and as Christians, we must exemplify our love for our neighbor by speaking out against injustice and hate, and we must urge our Muslim friends to continue to speak out against the extremism in their own faith.

Whether its extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalism or Islamic extremism, fear and hate continues to fuel the violence and destruction that continues to afflict communities worldwide.

 

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Jonathan

    Do you beleive Islam is a religion of peace? I do not. And if it is not, then are their terrorists really "extremists" as you say? or are they really just devout Muslims? Sure not all Muslims are terrorists but that's not the point. Regardless of whether they condemn the attacks or not there are some big issues with Islam as a religion as it does promote this type of violence. I suggest you read a bit of the Koran. December 9, 2015

  2. Catherine

    Although I can see what you're saying, Jonathan, I'm going to have to disagree with you.

    Muslims can be peaceful. So can the religion Islam. Here are some verses in the Quran that promote peace:

    “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Holy Quran: 2, 208)

    Indeed, Allah is with those who are righteous and those who do good. (Al Quran 16:129)

    “God does not love corruption”. (Surat al-Baqara, 205)

    The reward of goodness is nothing but goodness. (Al Quran 55:61)

    Now I'm not saying the Quran doesn't have any verses that talk about violence. But on that same note doesn't our own bible do that too?

    Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the [holy man] who represents God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged. Deuteronomy17:12 NLT

    Make ready to slaughter [the infidel’s] sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. Isaiah 14:21 NAB

    You can't pick and choose saying "oh Christianity is peaceful but Islam is not" considering the KKK stood for Christianity. Many white supremacists say they're Christians.

    I agree with Justin in saying we shouldn't judge all of Islam on the awful attacks done by extremists and terrorists. Or else we'd have to judge all Christians by the actions of the KKK. December 9, 2015

  3. Jonathan

    Ahhh the good old KKK are Christian's argument. It's simple.

    The KKK do not adhere to what God's word says, yet the Muslim terrorists seem to adhere pretty close to the Jihadist call.

    It's easy to pull verse's out of context to make either religion look peaceful or violent. The point is not the number of most peaceful or violent verses's win the following category, it is the religion as a whole and what it stands for.

    "Jihad’s symbol is the sword: conquering the world for Allah. The symbol of Christianity is the cross: sacrificing self that others may live. Jihad calls her sons to kill for Allah to achieve salvation. Christianity’s God sent his only Son to die for our salvation. Jihad achieves righteousness by works: entering paradise by killing infidels. Christianity teaches righteousness by grace: salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross."

    Great Article, if you would like to check it out :http://www.worldmag.com/2014/10/is_islam_a_religion_of_peace December 9, 2015

  4. Daniel

    Jonathan makes a good point. December 9, 2015

  5. Alum

    It's not the peaceful muslisms people are worried about, take a listen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry3NzkAOo3s December 9, 2015

  6. Kyle

    Catherine, I have to also disagree with you. You are quoting scriptures of Islam that call for "righteousness" and "goodness," but the definitions of these terms are different to a REAL Muslim than they are to you or I. We see the world through our Christian worldview, which tells us that "good" and "righteous" things are things that God would have us do. This is not so for the Muslim.

    As Jonathan has stated, and the subsequent article he linked will surely let you know, Islam is not a religion of peace any more than Christianity is a religion that backs the actions of the KKK.

    The problem with comparing ISIS terrorists or "extremists" (hint: this term is oxymoronic in this sense, since an "extremist" Muslim would technically be one that is NOT doing these things) to the KKK is that their actions literally directly align with the scriptures they adhere to. The KKK is in no way in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible. To make such an assertion or comparison is not only asinine, but shows a lack of comprehension in your learning, assuming you are a student at Biola. December 9, 2015

  7. Kyle

    To Justin:

    You say that the "Islamophobia" is bred from a culture of hate and fear in America, whereas the truth is that it is born of Islam being a religion of hate and fear.

    I won't bother to point-by-point comment on this article, as I have done before, because you hide behind your position and do not interact with your readers, nor defend the points that you have asserted. You do a poor job as a journalist, not giving due diligence to the integrity of your arguments, nor do you take the time to coherently connect your points as you develop your article.
    You are paid for this position, and have consistently delivered articles of this quality. Not only this; I have a feeling you are posting these types of articles to be divisive and cause strife between groups of students.

    I, along with several others, will be writing letters to your superior regarding the quality, integrity and voice of your work. December 9, 2015

  8. Kyle

    Catherine:

    http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/powerful-meme-reveals-13-doctrines-of-radical-islam-and-isis December 9, 2015

  9. Andrew

    So Muslims occasionally have to deal with people who kinda don't like them? Sounds brutal. December 10, 2015

  10. Two Cents

    San Bernadino 2015: 14 dead, 23 injured
    Mali Hotel 2015: 21 dead, 6 injured
    Paris Attacks 2015: 130 dead, 368 injured
    Beltway Snipers 2002: 17 dead, 10 injured
    Fort Hood Shooting 2009: 13 dead, 33 injured
    U.S.S Cole Bombing 2000: 17 dead, 39 injured
    Madrid Train Bombing 2004: 191 dead, 2050 injured
    Bali Nightclub Bombing 2002: 202 dead, 209 injured
    London Subway Bombing 2005: 56 dead, 700+ injured
    Moscow Theater Attack: 170 dead, 700+ injured
    Boston Marathon Bombing 2013: 6 dead, 280 injured
    Air France Highkacking 1994: 7 dead, 25 injured
    Beruit US Embassy Bombing 1983: 63 dead, 120 injured
    Benghazi 2012: 103 dead, 11 injured
    World Trade Center Bombing 1993: 6 dead, 1042 injured
    Mumbai Attacks 2008: 166 dead, 600+ injured
    September 11th 2001: 2996 dead, 6000+ injured

    Plenty more to reference. There might have only been a few attackers in each instance, and maybe they do represent the minority of a group. Yet each attack by just a few killed many and shook nations. They attack schools, malls, theaters, embassies, hotels, military bases and ships, civilian targets and more. There is plenty to fear. Census data puts about 2.77 million Muslims living in the US, if just one half of one percent of those are willing to go through with an attack, that's over 13,000 extremists who we have to worry about. 19 men brought a nation to its knees in 2001, and the US has never been the same. Read the information for what is is, do
    with it as you please. Just my two cents... December 10, 2015

  11. Steve

    To say that being wary of Muslims is Islamophobia, I believe is a suicidal mentality. It isn't Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus who are beheading, shooting, burning, stoning, Etc., their victims on a massive scale, it is Muslims, and only Muslims. Therefore it is only prudent of Christians to be wary of Muslims. That does not mean that they should not be shown the love of God, but watch your back. December 10, 2015

  12. Grace Gibney (Editor-in-Chief)

    Hi there,

    The Chimes is pleased to provide a space that promotes conversation regarding our content. With that, comments that attack writers or fellow commenters will not be tolerated as they do not promote productive discussion and detract from healthy conversation. If such remarks continue, The Chimes reserves the right to take them down.

    With that, I encourage you all to continue to explore our coverage as the semester comes to a close and as Biola’s campus begins to look ahead to spring semester.

    Sincerely,

    Grace Gibney
    Editor-in-Chief December 10, 2015

  13. jerry lewis

    Justin is correct. December 10, 2015

  14. Dan jones

    Justin's views come out of places like UC Berkeley and other bastions of left wing ideology like The Nation and the New York Times editorials. It's always blame America first and America is a deeply flawed country that is irreparably racist , sexist, imperialistic, and outrageously immoral.

    This is unfortunately Justin's world view and the Chimes helps perpetuate those views. Maybe you should read about how Christians are treated in almost all Muslim countries. No freedom of worship in SaudiArabia. A holocaust of persecution has taken place in Iraq n Syria. Have you seen how the Coptic Christians are treated in Egypt ? Have you heard of pastor Abedini in Iran ? Have you seen the persecution of Christians in Pakistan n their churches burned to the ground or blown up?

    Keep ignoring the truths of the Islamic countries and focus on the evils of America. You are the King of cognitive dissonance , when you keep pointing the finger at America while Christians are murdered and pillaged, and raped , and persecuted in every Muslim country . You have a lot of nerve attacking our noble country. I'll bet your hands are wide open as you receive aid from Uncle Sam while you slap him across the face, all the while receiving enormous student aid. Perpetually , biting the hand that feeds you hear in America and receiving all of her goodies and benefits.

    You are way off base with your endless criticisms of Americans and America , and Christians while you almost completely ignore the horrible plight of Christians across the world who are being raped,pillaged,murdered, and horribly persecuted.

    Some will call you a left-wing nut. I will call you a misguided critic of all things American, wildly and unbelievably naive.
    Your last paragraph equating right wing fundamentalism and Islamic terror is outrageous, misinformed, and a slander to the Christian community. You should apologize for that. That was grotesque. !!! December 14, 2015

  15. Kyle Weir

    What that guy said ^^^ December 15, 2015

  16. Christine Cecil, Ed.D.

    The last time I rode a public bus in Israel, I felt delighted to share Christ with a beautiful young Muslim woman. At the same time, I fully understand the Biblical mandate of every Christ follower to love the Jewish people because salvation is from the Jews, to safeguard Israel because she is the apple of God's eye, and to turn the battle at the gates because the Lord loves the gates of Jerusalem more than all the dwelling places of Zion. This Biblical mandate to bless Israel is antithetical to Islam which dictates death to the infidel. I don't fear Islam. I fight Islam. I fight it in prayer. I fight it with the word of God. I fight Islam just like I fight any lie that leads God's children away from His heart. January 1, 2016

  17. Steve

    Let's see Justin, according to the FBI, hate crimes against Jews because of their religion is 60.3%, and hate crimes against Muslims because of their religion is just 13.7%. Are you also a Muslim sympathizer, because you seem to care more for the religious of a Satanic order that you do for a Godly one?

    https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2013/topic-pages/victims/victims_final January 15, 2016

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