ISTANBUL - Twelve years on 9/11, Islamophobia machines are still running high to stigmatize Muslims worldwide, using terrorism label to marginalize any opponents, a leading US professor said at the International Conference on Islamophobia, launched in Istanbul yesterday.
"What you see is the irrational fear. Today everyday conversations in mainstream society express fear about Islam, John L. Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, was quoted as saying at the conference held in Istanbul, World Bulletin reported on Thursday, September 12.
Their conclusions become so taken for granted, and become truisms that require no evidence, no substance, they are not challenged in the public square.
Espisoto was speaking at the International Conference on Islamophobia: Law and Media, opened in Istanbul on Thursday.
At the session titled Islamophobia and Media's Role, Esposito noted that through the 1990s, Europe and the US witnessed the beginnings of the upsurge of modern manifestations of Islamophobia.
These Islamophobia campaigns were basically led by seven US foundations which provided $ 42.5 million in support to Islamophobes and their websites over the last decade, Esposito added.
"I would argue that the strength of Islamophobia today comes through social media which impacts and influences popular culture far more than some of the traditional media," he said.
"What we have seen about Islamophobia today and before is the tip of the iceberg."
Based on an irrational fear with no evidence, 31 states in the US have passed anti-shari`ah legislations.
"The problem is, who is asking for anti-Shari`ah legislations? People in the states who did not even know what Shari`ah was, prepared to vote for anti-Shari`ah legislations," Esposito said.
The conference, running through September 12-13, was also attended by Turkish Deputy Minister Bulent Arinc and the OIC Secretary General Ekmelettin Ihsanoglu and several international scholars.
Esposito criticized those who avoid questioning the legitimacy of the Egyptian "coup" out of fear of an Islamist government, seeing it as a result of illogical fear of Islamophobia.
"The same is true in terms of simply repeating allegations, not looking at the level of violence by the military regime, Esposito said.
Thousands of people have been killed or runted.
Esposito added that the same illogical fear of Islamists applied to the rhetoric of Egypt after the army deposed former President Mohamed Morsi within and outside the country.
Condemning the double standards applied to the military's actions, Esposito explained that even if a tenth of the recent acts of mass violence had occurred under an Islamist government, or a Morsi-oriented government, there would have been widespread outcries calling it a "wave of terror."
He also criticized those who "do not come out and wonder about whether it was a coup or not, or they think it is legitimate to overthrow a democratically elected government rather than to vote that government out."
Norman Gary Finkelstein, an American political scientist specializing in anti-Semitism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, agreed.
He said a common definition for anti-Semitism and Islamophobia would be: 'Generalization, targeting a group's core beliefs, that is hurtful and irrational, which would include: Muslims are terrorists and Jews are cheap, or the Holocaust never happened and Islam is all about religion.'
Finkelstein emphasized that definitions and labels were not useful, but rather tended to detract people from the main concern- to find the reality.