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It has been just over a month since President Donald Trump issued his “Muslim Ban.” Now seems the opportune time to have an honest, rational and necessary conversation surrounding Islam and its criticisms.
In the immediate wake of the ban, I noticed many of my fellow campus liberals using the word “Islamophobia” to seemingly no end. Some of these accusations were quite justified—I myself observed anti-Muslim bigotry on this campus and please believe me when I say that I stand firmly against any person engaging in an activity so vile as that. However, most of these well-intentioned accusations held no merit or logic.
“Islamophobia” is not a constructive term—and words do matter. My intention is not to offend or inspire hatred in any form, but to promote honest conversation. In that spirit, I will outline the two major reasons that we should stop saying “Islamophobia.”
For starters, this idea silences honest criticism of Islam, which is something both necessary and warranted.
Let me be clear on this point: We should be criticizing the religion of Islam and its doctrines. We should absolutely not be criticizing all Muslim people. There is a massive difference and I am arguing in favor of the former and against the latter.
First, the doctrines of Islam are in fact worthy of high criticism. This is a religion whose holy book calls for the death of unbelievers, and for apostates to be slain. This same holy book grants men complete control over women, and openly permits and encourages brutal violence against women. This is a religion whose prophet ordered a woman to be stoned to death for adultery, and that anyone participating in homosexual activity is murdered. This is a religion that encourages torture, and that commands its adherents to fight blindly in the name of its God, even against their better judgment.
What’s more, there is an entire system of religious law, called Sharia, based solely on the Quran and the words of Muhammed, which happen to be the source of the atrocities I’ve just mentioned. And while it is easy to say that only “a few bad apples” believe in these things, that is simply not true. In a study conducted by Pew Research Center, for example, 99 percent of Muslims surveyed in Afghanistan supported Sharia being imposed as the official law of the land. While the numbers certainly differ by country, and there is variance even within Sharia supporters, the results are far from encouraging.
When one makes a truthful criticism of Islam and then is immediately silenced or condemned as an “Islamophobe,” it also silences the people who desperately need and want for that criticism to be heard, but can’t voice it themselves. With the privilege we have been granted, we can give a voice to those who most need one, and by using false claims of ignorance or bigotry to silence those trying to do just that, you are a contributor to the problem.
Also, the term “phobia” is unclear. By definition, a “phobia” is an extreme or irrational fear. While I do not believe fear is at all the best way to address this problem and actively advocate against fear, it is not inherently irrational to fear a doctrine or a set of ideas that calls for your death, or that endorses violence against women or that covets world domination.
Why is it there is no Christianity-ophobia, or Mormon-ophobia or Scientology-ophobia?
Because an author can write a book critical of Christianity and not have to go into hiding for years because of a Fatwah calling for their death. Salman Rushdie cannot say the same for Islam.
Because a cartoonist can publish a picture ridiculing Scientology, and not be killed for it. Stéphane Charbonnier cannot say the same for Islam.
No one should be killed for publishing a cartoon, or writing a book or leaving a religion, period. There should be no debate on this, no matter the circumstances, and it is not irrational to fear a doctrine that says otherwise.
Anti-Muslim bigotry is no doubt a problem and I do not want that to be lost in my criticisms. It needs to be fought whenever it rears its ugly head, but let’s call it what it is: anti-Muslim bigotry.
I am opposed to a “Muslim Ban” like the one our president and much of our country had called for. We cannot turn our backs on refugees that have found themselves in the worst of imaginable situations, yet we must keep an even head and think straight when discussing this issue.
Women’s rights, free speech, LGBT rights and religious freedom are all liberal values and values that represent everything great about the world, yet when someone truthfully criticizes the institution most threatening to those values, liberals often shout them down as “Islamophobic.” It is time for that to stop.
Islam as it currently stands is not a set of ideas that aligns itself with liberal values and actually stands at the antithesis of many of those values and that is simply a fact. That said, there are many liberal Muslims and Muslims who want to reform their religion for the better, and they are the ones who are really going to be able to do it. These are the people we should not only allow into this country, but encourage them to come and give them all of the possible support we can—and that starts with the truth.
Please, I implore you, stop silencing the truth and consider the consequences of doing so. Because for every night you lay in bed, satisfied with yourself for sniffing out another “Islamophobe,” a young girl in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan lies voiceless in her bed, steeped in the dread of what tomorrow will bring.
Kort is a freshman studying neurobiology. What are your thoughts on the word “Islamophobia?” Please send all comments and questions to email@example.com.