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Suspicion. That is the new trend on the streets in so many communities today. Terrorism has effectively created that. Terrorism has sown the seed of distrust and it is festering and growing on its own. It is now the name calling, tagging and labelling people ‘Islamaphobic’ if they much as dare as make observations, passing comments or raise any criticism over Muslims and the Quran, even if it is well meaning.

This is becoming very worrisome to a lot of people who are silenced by this trend. Many people are now timid to make any comments and suggestions that might help battle the challenge of radical Islam and terrorism.

The online Oxford dictionaries describe phobia as ‘An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.’ I like this simplistic definition because it sums up what we are facing today in this context.

047Terrorism is really nothing new. We have had terrorist activities, especially in the age long Israeli-Palestinian crises in the not too distant past and from time to time, within some social and political struggles terrorism has been applied as a tactic or as a pressure. Terrorism has shown itself in ethnic, racial and political attacks, assassinations and religious belief enforcements. Over time these have created deep anxieties and disorder in the social psyche. A phobia, if you like. Phobia, NHS says, is ‘ a type of anxiety disorder.’ And there are various types of them.

The Centre for race and Gender, University of California says, ‘The term “Islamaphobia” was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined it as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” The term was coined in the context of Muslims in the UK in particular and Europe in general, and formulated based on the more common “xenophobia” framework.’

What is however becoming an unsettling trend now is the twist and manipulations the word ‘phobia’ is used to tag and describe people who would want to share the most common concern, especially in the west and this is fast spreading around many other communities in other countries.

‘Islamaphobia’ is now used to describe those who dislike Muslims but it is also used as a tool or weapon to shut up any social critic who engages in the debate of radical Islam as well.

But let us step back a little.

Muslims want their sharia and will not succumb to civil laws and western social codes of muslims in nigeriaconduct in many communities. Are they not then to be challenged and described as “Westernophobic?” many Muslims in Europe ‘fear’ to integrated and relate with other cultures and ethnic groups. Many will not even go out into the streets without the hijab while they have resentment to types of foods and will not shake hands with people not of their own religion or gender. Will this be a phobia covered under Islamic instructions? Or perhaps just a teaching to detest others and segregate among civilized people?

Many people ‘hate’ to have a Christian talk to them about or mention Jesus either in the work place or on the street. In many places Christians can not hold their Bibles or wear a cross, a symbol of their religion on their necks or anywhere else so that it is ‘not offensive’ to others. While wearing or carrying these symbols may be argued by even some Christian scholars, these symbols are as good as the Creeds and Doctrines of Christianity that can not be denied. The cross is the symbol of the death of Christ, a very crucial religious image. The ‘anxiety’ by many over this cross can be described as “Christophobia’ can it not?

The concern here, however, is the disproportionate way in which ‘Islamaphobia’ and ‘Christophobia’ seem to be applies in the public sphere. A hijab in public is protected since raising any objection against it is Islamaphobic but a cross on the neck of a woman can be offensive to others. A Bible on the table in an office can be offensive but a Muslim, kneeling to pray somewhere in the corner of the office is a right. To make a point about ‘climate change’ Muslims chose to pray in the field around parliament in London last year. It is the segregation of ‘us’ who are here to ‘tell them’ what is right and what ‘Islam’ proscribes. And that was okay? Of course to raise issues against that will be Islamaphobia.

Now keeping that segregation and refusing to integrate and treat everyone as equal by Muslim is not ‘Westernophobia’. It rather is ‘Islamaphobia” to ask Muslims to integrate.