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CIGA Int’l Conference on Islamophobia: Scholars ask Muslims to engage in intense political activities

CIGA Int’l Conference on Islamophobia: Scholars ask Muslims to engage in intense political activities
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Istanbul: The Muslim world is in leadership crisis which has resulted in phenomenon like Islamophobia, experts and scholars observed at the three-day international conference on Islamophobia hosted by Centre for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University here.

The speakers stressed that Muslims need to organize themselves and engage in intense political activities to be a force to reckon with.

In his powerful presentation, United Voices of America leader, Ahmed Bedier, said, “Muslims in West need to be politically more involved and engaged.”

“The strategic goal of the Islamophobia network is to keep the Muslims disenfranchised and away from active political participation.”

“They want to keep us pre-occupied in cultural battles in which all our resources get absorbed,” he added, “despite the fact that we are not financially as competitive with the opponents who spend millions of dollars against us.”

“It (the cultural battle),” he noted, “keeps Muslims away from pro-active political power… we need to come closer to Congress, close to those who legislate. We have to work harder to go near the political power.”

Making similar recommendation, Dr Salman Sayyid, from Leeds University United Kingdom, said, “to counter Islamophobia Muslim groups anywhere on earth have to become politically conscious and engage in political activities.”

He said that the empowerment of Muslims, in West, has to be “transformation and “not to just integrate them” in to the system. “You are to be able to rewrite the society where you live in.”

Speaking during the plenary session of the conference on the role of Muslim scholars and combatting Islamophobia, Dr Mehmet Gormez, former head of Turkish Religious Authority, said, “Muslim majority nations and groups need to engage with Muslim community whereever they live in minority.”
“(But) it should not be to engage these minority groups to further one’s agenda,” he stressed.

He said that reputed Islamic scholar, Oxford Professor Tariq Ramazan, was latest victim of Islamophobia. “We, as Muslims, need to do something for him.”

Ramadan has been jailed for over a month now by French authorities over accusations made by a woman. However, so far, the charges have not been made officially.

The European Islamophobia Report (EIR), co-edited by Dr Farid Hafez Salzburg University, Austria), revealed 908 crimes, ranging from verbal and physical attacks to murder attempts, targeting Muslims in Germany, as well as 664 in Poland, 364 in the Netherlands, 256 in Austria, 121 in France, 56 in Denmark, and 36 in Belgium.

Islamophobia no longer affects minorities alone, Dr Sayyid added. “It is actually changing how the state thinks of itself,” he said, citing US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslims.

“What Trump has done is based on legislation which was already implemented by [his predecessor Barack] Obama,” he said.

Sayyid said that a lot of people are seeing Islamophobia “more like the falling of the masks rather than a new reality.” “(It) is rewriting what kind of a world we are going to live in; Islamophobia has to be resisted.”

Islamophobia, Dr Sayyid remarked, “has to do with structures and institutions.” “New normal (about Islamophobia) is not just what is West but (it is about) those moving towards West.”

To make his point, he said, “most people, Hindus, fear in India that Muslims will outbreed them and India will no longer be a Hindu (state) and (that is why) we have come to know of newly found ‘love-jihad’ thing.”

‘Love-Jihad’, the UK academic said, “draws from the fear that it will alter the demographics of India which has more than 80percent Hindus.”

To counter Islamophobia, Dr Sayyid impressed, “(Muslims) groups anywhere on earth have to become politically conscious and engage in political activities.”

He said that the empowerment of Muslims, in West, has to be “transformation and “not to just integrate them” in to the system. “You are to be able to rewrite the society where you live in.”

Dr Sayyid said, “(all those people) who resort to Islamophobia use same kind of practices across the world.” “(Because) they say Islam is in the wrong hands (but) whose hands are right remains an open question.”

Islamophobia is described as an intense fear or hatred of, or prejudice against, the Islamic religion or Muslims, especially when seen as a geopolitical force. Western countries have seen an upward trend in attacks on Muslims where Mosques have been attacked and Muslims attacked physically.

To counter the Islamophobia, he said, “Muslims lack a strategic plan.”

Bedier in reply to question said, “if Muslims start normalizing themselves, it will be harder for Islamophobes.” “We have to work within the system, we may not compete financially but we have to have commitment.”

CIGA director, Prof Sami A Al-Arian said that ‘war on terror’ was “not actually war on terror”.

“During cold war, there was an idiom: keep Americans in, Russian out and Germans down but today it has changed to ‘keep Israelis in, Turks out and Islamists down’,” he observed detailing as how Islamophobia narrative was its genesis in “Islamic threat” narrative generated by a former Mossad agent in US Congress in 1989.

“Muslims have no integrated vision; there is no real vision as how to handle the current situation,” he said. “We are pre-occupied in as how to defend ourselves.”

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