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There's a nice one on The Onion today, that's bound to start an interesting debate here.

Special Report: Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims

I know that Richard and many others here don't like the word Islamophobia because it is often used to silence justified criticism of Islam and problems in the Muslim community. I'm nevertheless convinced that Islamophobia is a very real and dangerous phenomenon in the post-9/11 world.

I've recently hit upon a comparison that I think offers a good way to think about the problem: Islamophobia is very similar to Anti-Americanism. There really is exploitation of the developing world by the West, led by the US. The foreign politics of the USA have caused immense suffering around the world. There is much that can and should be criticized about the economic and military politics of the richest and most powerful nation of this world. But there is a critical point at which the justified criticism becomes grossly generalized hate-speech. And there are lots of gray areas in between the justified criticism and the hate speech. Sometimes it can be just the way it is presented, which determines whether it is just just concern or Anti-Americanism (often spiced with Anti-Semitism).

In the same way there really are serious concerns about the course of the world's second largest religion, about the subjugation of Muslim women and the fact that religious fundamentalism is so abundant in Islam, or that even the moderates look pretty damn fundamentalist to me, regarding their views on the role of women, the rights of same-sex couples or the role of religion in the state. But, like with Anti-Americanism, there is a point when the very nature of that concern changes and it becomes scaremongering. It is sometimes hard to pinpoint and there are shades of grey in abundance. But if words like "Eurabia" are thrown around or birth rates of Muslim communities are being used to predict the the ethnic makeup of Europe in fifty or sixty years the whole thing has become xenophobic nonsense.

What are your views on this?



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