Islamophobia in Contemporary Global Politics

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Islamophobia in Contemporary Global Politics

An interactive session was organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on the topic of “Islamophobia in Contemporary Global Politics”. Dr. Salman Sayyid from the University of Leeds, UK was the key speaker.

Islamophobia m

An interactive session was organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on the topic of “Islamophobia in Contemporary Global Politics”. Dr. Salman Sayyid from the University of Leeds, UK was the key speaker. Professor Dr. Anis Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, Riphah International University chaired the session while Chairman IPS Professor Khurshid Ahmad and DG-IPS Khalid Rahman were also present. Among the participants were leading scholars, diplomats and academics of twin cities.

The key speaker Dr. Salman Sayyid is the author of A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism, and Recalling the Caliphate: Decolonization and World Order. His work on Islamophobia in the West is well-acclaimed, and he has recently addressed a UN plenary session on the issue.

In his opening statement, Dr. Sayyid termed Islamophobia basically a political phenomenon that had started taking shape much before 9/11. A 1997 report in the United Kingdom identified Islamophobia as a distinct form of discrimination that is directed against the Muslims and is defined as stereotypical negative portrayal of Muslims and Islam. Despite its identification as a form of discrimination, no legal remedy has been made available to redress grievances and provide a solace to Muslim segments in Western societies.

He viewed Islamophobia as a product of Eurocentricism, and said that a major stream of thought in the West is convinced that destiny of the world lies in adopting Western values and structures and that West’s progress “from Plato to NATO”  presents the best recipe for the development of mankind. With this mindset, he argued, masses in the Western societies find it hard to acknowledge that there may be a whole lot of people who may be insisting on a different scheme of things.

The speaker emphasized that Muslim thinkers and leaders need to approach the issue of Islamophobia in political terms and start by decolonization of minds so that they may represent their identity and cultures as their original selves.
The opening statement of Dr. Sayyid was followed by an open-house debate in which scholars and practitioners brought various aspects of the topic under discussion.

Concluding the session, Dr. Anis Ahmad said that post-colonialism doesn’t necessarily mean the end of colonialism, rather it re-emerges as neo-colonialism. To decolonize our minds we need to connect ourselves with our roots and understand and respond to the world on the basis of our own values. For this intellectual strength is the first pre-requisite that we need to develop. He asked for a holistic comprehension of the challenges and multi-dimensional efforts to face them.

He, however, asked for a positive engagement with the West and urged that the mindset of ‘us versus enemy’ has to be shunned away despite whatever the role and approach of the West has been.

Prof. Khurshid Ahmad reminded that Muslims may be strong enough to counter challenges they are faced with when their own house was in order. He too endorsed a positive attitude with an affection towards those in the West who were still unaware of the blessed message that Islam has for them.

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