I have been wanting to write for some time about what I see as a rise in fundamentalism. Some of you may immediately think that I am writing about Islam, I am not. It is not the threat of Islam that concerns me as much as the rise in Islamaphobia that disturbs me. I am not a Muslim and I do not wish to speak about Islam as such. My intention is to consider the sphere in which negative discourse presents fundamental ideas that can lead to the dehumanization of a group of people or a part of society.
It is very true that radical Islam has not done itself any justice in the modern past. One can see that even now across the Middle East and North Africa the rise of Jihadist groups is both quite frightening and alarming. These particular groups have been exposed and have emerged through a process. Some do not like to consider that perhaps Western foreign policy has worked as a political force that has created various antagonisms within the region in order to create a power vacuum which invariably creates a space for hegemonic struggles to exist. These vacuums that have presented themselves during the Arab Spring are likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
There is a presupposition that the “West is the best” in Stuart Hall’s words. This presupposition has been developed over centuries through a process of enlightenment and colonialism/imperialism which as a result has presented a fear of the “Other”. Along with this fear an idea of superiority has emerged within a political economic arena. Natural resources have been extracted and utilized by Western powers through contracts or through war. A Western democratic model has been assumed as a perfect model, one which posses a moral and ethic code of practice. Communism served a threat whether rightly or wrongly so. Socialism and liberalism too pose as a threat of some sort to the foundations of Western domination; as a result fundamentalism has risen and continues to be on the rise.
When was the last time a Muslim country tried to overthrow a European or American government/country? When was the last time that a Muslim country attempted to present their idea’s and ideals upon our Nations?
Terrorist attacks have been horrendous, unjust and disturbing. Can we assume that all Muslims wish this upon our Nations, Peoples and Lands? No, we cannot. Yet I see a shift to the right occurring within Western Europe. Groups like the EDL and UKip are forming based on both racist and fundamental idea’s when tackling the “Other”. The press have done nothing to present anything but an awkward and frightening picture of Islam penetrating Western societies. The negative accounts of Islam have done nothing but reinforce a rise in fundamentalist thinking based on – to a large extent – an imagined and irrational fear of the Other or rather Islam. Edward Said once wrote in his book Covering Islam within the context of media coverage on Islam, that if the words Muslim and Islam were replaced with Jew and Jewish what would the responses be?
What is astonishing is that lessons from World Word II and the rise of fascism and Natzi-ism have been forgotten. We are in an age where watching Muslim suffer has desensitized Western Communities. We are in an age that if we speak on behalf of Islam we can be viewed as being radical, irrational and even in favor of the several Islamic groups that have been banned and placed on various world terrorist lists. Many believe that it is absolutely fine to be Islamaphobic and yet find no links to racism which of course is completely unacceptable. Some how Islamaphobia and the rise of fundamentalism in the democratic West is constantly being justified and re-articulated within specific boundaries without setting any limits on how radical Islam does not define Islam or account for the millions of Muslims across the globe who have nothing in common with the minority of radical Muslims who threaten their lives – as they are right now in the Middle East and North Africa.
Amos Gilad once said “”Where there is so much destructive memory, a little forgetfulness may be in order” perhaps that can give us all something to think about.