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Islamophobia, Economy and Unemployment

Published: 22/12/2011 06:44:00 PM GMT
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The rise in recent years of Islamophobia and prejudice against immigrants in Western Europe has been quite alarming. It is no coincidence that this xenophobia has coincided with a dire economic situation and world financial crash. If one checks thoroughly the economics of the different countries that are known for an Islamophobic right wing, like the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, one will find that the rises of Islamophobia and anti-Islam rhetoric are closely related to the state of the economy and the rates of unemployment. In fact, something that is mentioned often in these kinds of speeches is how these immigrants are “taking our jobs” and “placing strain on the country's resources.” Instead of blaming the bankers that lined their pockets through corrupt dealings and trades, they rather shift the public's focus on the immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, the vast majority of whom are Muslim and not Caucasian.

This has been a characteristic that has been quite prevalent in political speeches and rhetoric in Europe for a long time. Blaming the obvious outsiders is an ugly part of human nature. One could imagine cave men blaming the shortage of food on the slightly darker-skinned cavemen, thousands of years ago. It is racism, pure and simple. Except that today it is taboo to talk specifically about skin color so instead, many of these politicians refer to how these immigrants have “different values” or “don't understand the British/Danish/German way of life.” A common way of demeaning immigrants in modern political speech is by representing them as outsiders that do not even attempt to get along with the way of doing things. The worst part of this is that the majority of the Muslims that they insult in these kinds of speeches are actually as much citizens of Western European countries as the politicians that speak against them.

While many will argue that Islamophobia is related with the events of 9/11 and similar terrorist attacks, it can be also argued that the brand of Islamophobia that is practiced in Western Europe is more closely related to the dire financial situation of many of its countries and the increasing economic crisis in the World. What is even more worrying for the future is that due to this inflamed and exaggerated rhetoric, the right is slowly shifting farther and farther into the extreme section of the political spectrum. Groups and ideas that a couple of decades ago were considered complete outsiders and demented at best are now starting to hold political office. If anyone would have dared suggest twenty years ago that the prime minister of the United Kingdom or the president of the United States was a “secret Muslim” intent on destroying the Western way of life, he would have been laughed out of any venue; much less considered for a serious post of authority. It is quite worrisome for many Muslims that these kinds of ideas are not just part of extremist groups but are constantly mentioned by the pundits every single day in the news, television, newspapers, and radio.

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