Islamophobia – The New Crusade

Arzu Merali & Massoud Shadjareh overview the rise in the phenomenon from international politics to schools and universities. It questions liberal society’s ability to get beyond its prejudices.

Based on a presentation at the ‘Islamophobia Workshop’ at the ‘Justice or Just Us Conference’, 11th May 2002, Liverpool organised by BRAIN (Black Racial Attacks Independent Network)

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From the report:

As activists, campaigners, advocates and researchers we have been involved in the recent history of anti-Muslim hatred, hostility and discrimination as played out in the local and international arena. Ten years back it was au fait to be polemical and talk about the continuing crusade in the British / Western psyche playing out at the conscious and sub-conscious level. It made good headlines and on occasion interesting press releases. But somewhere along the line, we got academic, the race industry moved in, we grew up and the term ‘Islamophobia’ was born.

In many ways it was a blessing. The Runnymede Trust report and subsequent studies using either that terminology or as we did ‘anti-Muslim hostility etc.’ focused on real and current experiences, structured and societal discrimination and posited recommendation after ignored recommendation for change. Enter George W. Bush Jnr., September 2001, and his declared crusade; the polemics were back and this time they meant business.

Despite the way this sounds, this is not meant to be a flippant or cynical analysis of the problems faced by Muslims or the many well-wishers, campaigners and supporters who have striven tirelessly from many backgrounds to eradicate this evil from society. It is however an on going attempt to make some large and part-polemical, part-experiential points about the state we live in today. Why the crusades again? We hope the reason we used this tool – although highly polemical – will become clear as we progress.