Islamophobia: A Definition
The Runnymede Trust has identified eight components that they say define Islamophobia.
This definition, from the 1997 document 'Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All' is widely accepted, including by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
The eight components are:
1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2) Islam is seen as separate and 'other'. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3) Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4) Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a 'clash of civilisations'.
5) Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage.
6) Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7) Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8) Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.
For a summary of the 1997 report, see here
For the follow-up report from 2004, 'Islamophobia: Issues, Challenges, and Action', see here
Islamic Human Rights Commission on Runnymede Trust report:
The report itself is not without fault. In particular it advocates that Muslims, as a self-help measure should be more accommodating towards the Jewish community regarding events in the Middle East. It suggests we should condemn every action taken that offends Jewish sensibilities in the Middle East, almost regardless of the rights and wrongs of each individual incident. The Runnymede Trust published a similar report on anti-Semitism in 1993, and no similar recommendation was made to the Jewish community. This aside, the report documented the problems faced by Muslims in a very real and thorough manner. The Runnymede Trust was set up in 1968 as a think tank to advise government on race relations issues. It is well-respected, and the fact that its findings can be so easily brushed aside augurs ill for Muslims in the UK, who already face bleak prospects.
Islamophobia is the fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims or Islamic culture. Islamophobia can be characterised by the belief that all or most Muslims are religious fanatics, have violent tendencies towards non-Muslims, and reject as directly opposed to Islam such concepts as equality, tolerance, and democracy.
It is viewed as a new form of racism whereby Muslims, an ethno-religious group, not a race, are nevertheless constructed as a race.
A set of negative assumptions are made of the entire group to the detriment of members of that group.
During the 1990's many sociologists and cultural analysts observed a shift in forms of prejudice from ones based on skin colour to ones based on notions of cultural superiority and otherness.
An excellent definition also appears on the Salaam website written by "al-Maktabi":
"the term 'Islamophobia' does not adequately express the full range and depth of antipathy towards Islam and Muslims in the West today. It is an inadequate term."
"A more accurate expression would be 'anti-Islamic racism' for it combines the elements of dislike of a religion and active discrimination against the people belonging to that religion."
One of the members of the Runnymede Trust's Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia which published the famous 1997 report argues that:
"Hostility towards Islam and Muslims has been a feature of European societies since the eighth century of the Common Era. It has taken different forms, however, at different times and has fulfilled a variety of functions. For example, the hostility in Spain in the fifteenth century was not the same as the hostility that had been expressed and mobilised in the Crusades. Nor was the hostility during the time of the Ottoman Empire or that which was prevalent throughout the age of empires and colonialism. It may be more apt to speak of 'Islamophobias' rather than of a single phenomenon. Each version of Islamophobia has its own features as well as similarities with, and borrowings from, other versions."