The Long History of Islam as a Collective “Other” of the West and the Rise of Islamophobia in the U.S. after Trump


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 3, 2017

According to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, a phobia is “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” As implied in this description, the source of the horror is mostly meaningless and illogical, but it influences the flow of life in many respects. Over the last few decades, a particular kind of phobia has gripped Western societies: Islamophobia.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) defines Islamophobia as a “closed-minded hatred, fear or prejudice toward Islam and Muslims that result in discrimination, marginalization, and oppression.” Ali and colleagues define Islamophobia as “an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.” Runnymede Trust’s Commission defines Islamophobia as “an unfounded hostility towards Islam, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” This report found that the term was used firstly by an American newspaper reporter in 1991.

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