Islamophobia: Roots and Consequences in British Society05 May 2023
Islamophobia. What is it, when did it start, and who is promoting it? Life as a Muslim is hard, we can’t deny that, and most people who wear an outward and visible representation of Islam are usually hit by discrimination one way or another. Whether it’s joking with friends or walking down the street it can happen anywhere, anytime but what can we do to stop it for the next generation of Muslims.
What is it? Well, Islamophobia, is a fear, and discrimination of those who practice Islam, and is a growing concern in today’s society. This form of prejudice not only harms Muslims, but it also undermines the principles of equality and tolerance that are vital to a peaceful and just society. The impact of Islamophobia can be seen in various aspects of life, from employment and education to political representation and access to justice.
Islamophobia, in so-called British society and psyche, can be traced back to the Indian Mutiny During the Indian Mutiny in the late 1850s, Indian soldiers in the British army were issued a new model of rifle called the Enfield Pattern. The cartridges for this rifle were greased with pig and beef fat for ease of use, but to load the rifle, soldiers needed to bite the top of the cartridge off. This posed a problem for Muslim and Hindu soldiers, as pigs are considered unclean in Islam and cows are considered sacred in Hinduism.
The act of biting the cartridges was seen as a direct insult to the religious beliefs of Indian soldiers, and this caused widespread outrage and resentment among them. This was exacerbated by the fact that the British officers in charge of the Indian soldiers were often insensitive to their religious beliefs and were known to mock and ridicule them.
The resentment among Indian soldiers eventually boiled over into a full-scale uprising against British rule, known as the Indian Mutiny. This three-year uprising was characterized by violence and brutality on both sides, and it was marked by widespread racism and hatred between the Indian soldiers and the British officers.
The use of the Enfield Pattern rifle and the greased cartridges played a significant role in stoking the flames of racism and hate in the British army. It was a clear example of how insensitivity to cultural and religious differences can lead to conflict and division, and it is a reminder of the importance of respecting and accommodating the beliefs of others.
Promotion for Islamophobia is big but subtle. It can be seen in Hollywood and gaming and, but how? Hollywood blockbusters, such as Blackhawk down and Eye in the Sky depict Muslims as either treacherous or violent and in need of being kept in check. In gaming the Call of Duty series’ campaign is a perfect example of this especially Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which depicts the Al-Quds force as a terrorist organisation however is very real and isn’t a terrorist force but are part of Iran’s Special Forces.
However, let’s shift to the non-fictional perspective and look at our former prime minister, Boris Johnson who called our mothers, and sisters, who wear the niqab, post boxes and bank robbers. Moreover, there are those who agree with him, Rowan Atkinson, the infamous Mister Bean, is openly Islamophobic.
A case of gross extremist islamophobia is the attack of Muslims leaving the prayer rooms in City University in Islington. On Monday 2nd November 2009 a local gang targeted Muslim students leaving their prayer rooms and threw bricks and other projectiles at them causing three students needing hospital care. Although the university’s Islamic society immediately informed the police, they did not receive aid until a second attack on Thursday 5th November 2009. This shows the institutional discrimination within the police and general population.
The British government has attempted to crackdown on terrorism early in recent years with the PREVENT programme for schools. This trained teachers to spot the early signs of terrorism. One case of this was in March 2016 four-year-old boy in Yorkshire had been drawing something and his teacher ask what he was drawing, to which he replied, “cooker bomb.” The teacher instantly went to the authorities and an investigation which found out that he was trying to draw and say cucumber.
The fight against Islamophobia is a long and hard one but progress has been made as there is now less tolerance in general against discrimination, and if you or someone you know has been referred to PREVENT then please seek help from a lawyer or organisation which helps against this. If you see, hear or experience discrimination call it out and share it.
Islamophobia is a global issue that affects millions of Muslims around the world. It is fueled by ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination, and it can lead to hate crimes, violence, and even genocide. To combat Islamophobia, education and awareness are key. It is important to learn about Islam and to challenge negative stereotypes and false information about Muslims. Building bridges between different communities and promoting interfaith dialogue can also help to reduce fear and promote understanding. Finally, standing up against Islamophobia and advocating for the rights of Muslims is crucial in creating a more just and equitable society.