Impact of Islamophobia on cultures and global politics

SAMI A. AL-ARIAN
Published

Islamophobia is commonly defined as the intense or irrational hatred, hostility and fear of Islam. It perpetuates negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims or Islamic activists from social, political and civic life. Moreover, it has manifested itself as a form of structural racism that is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations. Islamophobia essentially dehumanizes Muslims and thus rationalizes the use of violence against them as a tool.

It reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.This phenomenon may have always existed in varying degrees in many societies, but it has in the last few decades become prevalent around the world, especially in the West after 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. In recent years, many of its aspects have become institutionalized through official policies and state structures. In addition, it has been featured in many political campaigns and parties, especially in the U.S. and Europe, causing not only distrust and alienation for significant segments within these societies, but also tension and polarization in many communities around the world. Unfortunately, Islamophobia has unleashed a lucrative industry led by dangerous interest groups with extremist political, social, and economic agendas. If unchecked, it threatens perpetual wars and destruction causing immeasurable pain and suffering.

The Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU) will organize an international conference on April 6-8 under the theme: "Contextualizing Islamophobia: Its Impact on Culture and Global Politics." It's important to emphasize the academic nature of the conference as all speakers have been selected for their impeccable credentials on the subject. No governmental entity has been associated with the conference's organization nor funding any of its activities.

The conference will feature over 25 renowned scholars on the subject from Turkey and around the world including academics from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The conference speakers include professor Salman Sayyid from the U.K., professor Mehmet Görmez, former president of Dianet, professor Farid Hafez from Austria, professor Johan Galtung from Norway, professor Hatem Bazian, Ramon Grosfoguel, Sahar Aziz, Todd Green, Nazia Kazi, and Amed Bedier from the U.S, professor Mohammad Marandi from Iran, professor Kaarina Aitamurto from Finland, professor Mohamed Nawab Osman from Singapore, professor Farhan Chak from Qatar, professor Mazin Qumsiyeh from Palestine, professor Maung Zarni from Myanmar, and professor Ravza Kavakci Kan, professor Burak Erdenir, professor Enes Bayraklı, professor Ali Hüseyinoğlu from Turkey, as well as many of our faculty members at IZU. In addition, several distinguished guests will join the conference as discussants and contributors including renowned professor emeritus Bruce Lawrence from Duke University and professor Ahmad Abdelrahman from Sudan and who is associated with many international universities.

The conference will discuss the impact of Islamophobia on culture, society, politics and international relations. It will explore its roots from epistemological and historical perspectives, outlining the political and cultural factors contributing to its rise, its intellectual framework, and the reasons for its pervasiveness. The cultural and social impact of Islamophobia will also be presented including its negative effects on its victims and practitioners. In other sessions, the social cost in terms of the erosion of civil and human rights will be discussed featuring several examples from different regions, as well as the likely long-term political and strategic dimensions around the world. How Islamophobia is used as a tool of foreign policy and empire will also be explored. Several presentations will engage with the notion that the religious affiliation of Islamophobia is not material to its manifestation by exploring the role of Muslim Islamophobes who are as dangerous and destructive as any other religious or ideological affiliation. Finally, a discussion featuring all the participants will be devoted to strategies and policies that need to be adopted and pursued to end or reduce the harmful and detrimental effects of Islamophobia.

The plenary session will start on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. featuring professors Hafez, Sayyid and Görmez. There will also be six other sessions running on Saturday and Sunday, April 7-8, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The venue is the Auditorium of the Islamic Finance Building on the Campus of Istanbul Sabahittin Zaim University in Halkalı. For more details about the program, see: ciga.izu.edu.tr.

* Director of the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and public affairs professor at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU).

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