Written by Theresa Corbin
So you might have noticed that I have been phoning it in lately. If you have noticed this, it was for a good reason. If you haven’t noticed, then forget I said anything. 😉 At the beginning of this month (Dec 2015), I travelled to a far away land (20 hours of hard-core plane travel away) to present my research on women in Islam at the 2nd Annual Australasian Conference on Islam.
It was an amazing experience filled with learning, meeting amazing people, and exploring Sydney, Australia.
The thesis of my research (boiled down a ton) amounted to the fact that a form of Islamophobia, with misogynistic roots, exists within the Muslim global community.
I assert that misogynistic Muslims, that is Muslims who hate and fear women, are often overlooked as Islamophobes because they only disparage one-half of all Muslims: women. In my research, I have taken a look at how radical Muslims groups with misogynistic views have taken the same paths to their fear and hate as non-Muslim Islamophobes.
My point is that if the definition of Islamophobia states that:
Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities. Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.
Then it can also be said that Islamophobia among Muslims is:
a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing misogynistic power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real female Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “an uncorrupt society” free from the fitnah (corruption) of the target communities (Muslim women). Islamophobia within (Radicalized) Muslims reintroduces and reaffirms a global gendered power structure through which resources and power distribution disparities are maintained and extended.
Lots of five dollar words that mean Muslims can and do illegitimately grab power in the same ways non-Muslims do and consequently fear and hate those they take power away from.
After speaking (video to come) and listening to two exhilarating days of research from amazing scholars like Dr. John Esposito (Georgetown University), Dr Sam Cherribi (Emory University), Dr. Michele Grossman (University of Victoria), and Dr. Julian Droogan (Macquarie University); and awesome activists like Corey Saylor (CAIR), Stevie Voogt (Exit White Power), Mariam Veiszadeh (Islamophobia Register), and Ihsaan Gardee (National Council for Canadian Muslims) on the topics of Islamophobia and Radicalism, I was even more convinced of my theory that the two are different sides of the same coin. But I also came to a few new conclusions:
1- That while Islamophobia and Radicalism have the same processes and outcomes, they are not equal. One is perpetrated by privileged communities (Islamophobia in usually seen in people who benefit from white privilege in the richest countries in the world). While the other is perpetuated by marginalized and underprivileged communities (Radicalism is usually seen in groups of people who are from marginalized communities or from war torn and poverty stricken areas where education is at a minimum). How this bears on my research, I do not know yet.
2- That Islamophobia is racialized by those who engage in it. I have previously held firm to the notion that Islamophobia isn’t about racism, since Muslims come from every race and ethnicity known to man. But Islamophobes are the ones being phobic and since they usually do not dig deeper than “brown people” (their construct, not mine) from “over there” are Muslim- it cannot be anything other than a racial issue.
3- That the solution is for the majority to have some trust, be open, and have more meals together.
So… I’ll make cookies. Y’all order the pizza!
But once the conference was over … I partied pretty hard.
I met kangaroos, koalas, and emus, and more.
I ate kangaroo, fish and chips, and drank some flat white too.
I sat pensively by the opera house, walked on the beach, and had a great conversation with a friend on the harbour bridge.
I kicked butt and took names, met tons of great people, and had a blast.
They say that Islamophobia exists in Australia and I believe it. But I felt so safe (guns are illegal). I honestly feel that prejudice doesn’t have a strong foot hold Down Under. Maybe they learned from what was done to the Aboriginal peoples there. And when prejudice against any group begins to emerge, like it is against the Muslims, it is a big deal. I could be wrong, but this was what I gathered.
In contrast, in the US, we haven’t learned a lot from our past. We sweep a lot of stuff under the rug and move on without talking about it. And still so many groups are scapegoated, marginalized, and abused so much so that, sadly, Islamophobia is just business as usual.
I think Americans can learn a lot from the ‘stralians by realizing that whenever a group of people are the target of hate and fear, it is in the interest of the nation as a whole that it is talked about, that people are educated, and it is stopped in its tracks.
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