Our epoch is confronted with a rapidly expanding scourge: Islamophobia. Today, it is the dominant form of racism in our society. Muslims are the most stigmatized, the most subjected to discrimination and aggression. As such, Islamophobia is detestable as are all forms of racism and xenophobia. But the scope of Islamophobia is further aggravated by the fact that it concentrates the most explosive contradictions of our time. In this, it does not merely isolate and overwhelm a racialized sector of the people; it is at the heart of the class struggle on a global scale. Islamophobia has direct implications for all sectors of the struggling peoples and it becomes impossible to play a progressive role without recognizing its general meaning and without paying it the attention it deserves.
Islamophobia is a form of racism
Many deny the very existence of Islamophobia by claiming that it is only a healthy criticism of religious ideas and that such criticism is formulated under the auspices of freedom of expression. Others exonerate it from the accusation of racism by qualifying that it targets a religion and not a “race”. Obviously, no racism can really target a race since races do not exist as such, as science has long demonstrated: they are only hateful fantasies, ideological constructions and products of a racist discourse, which seek to justify mass discrimination and abuse. Thus, racism is not defined primarily by who it targets but by a way of thinking, a way of defining and treating “the other” as an enemy.
But appearances do not deceive: despite its revamped facade, there is indeed a racist thought behind Islamophobia. Racist thought reduces a population to one aspect of its identity, as a presumed fundamental and determinant aspect that makes it possible to generalize to the whole group the stereotyped representation of a set of attitudes, disabilities, and defects. As a resolutely anti-scientific approach, racist discourse drowns in a homogeneous bloc the complexity, diversity, and cleavages that necessarily traverse the human groups which the racist has more or less arbitrarily constituted on the basis of a single criterion.
Islamophobia assigns a single verdict to all Muslims—or anyone presumed to be so: by belonging to Islam, they are suspected of fanaticism, intolerance, violent behavior, retrograde conceptions, obscurantism, barbaric cultural practices, and so on. According to the Islamophobic discourse, the Muslim civilization is irreconcilable with the modern, rational, democratic, progressive or simply Christian Occident. Islam is held responsible for the disorders that shake the world.
Islamophobia is the face of the crises and conflicts of our time
We know that for the last 200 years, it was rather imperialism and before it colonialism that sowed violence and desolation in Arab-Muslim countries and in the world at large. The political and military aggressions of the West in the Middle East have intensified since the beginning of the 21st century. This is why Islamophobia today reaches an unprecedented dimension by being responsible for the convergence of a multitude of crisis factors affecting the dominant countries and their control of the world. It is the desperate response of a failing imperialist system assailed on all sides by difficulties.
A few observations suffice to show that Islamophobia, far from being a marginal phenomenon, is on the contrary at the heart of the stakes of our time:
Islamophobia is a racism that does not simply express the stubborn prejudices of marginal backward elements, but is constructed and fueled by some of the main institutions of bourgeois society (including the major governing parties and some media empires).
- It is a racism that the ruling intellectuals reproduce by summarizing the present world under the thesis of a “clash of civilizations”.
- It is a racism that serves to justify uninterrupted wars of looting and devastation in the Middle East for more than 15 years.
- It is a racism that serves as an alibi for the strengthening of the imperialist states through security policies and the swelling of intelligence and repressive apparatuses through anti-terrorist laws.
- It is a racism that reproduces the old tactic always used in periods of economic and social crisis, which consists of erecting a minority of the population as a scapegoat for political diversion.
- It is a racism on the basis of which dominant nationalism is revived and redefined by the way of reinforcement of irrational identity insecurities.
- It is a racism that intrumentalizes feminist discourse to primarily stigmatize Muslim women, while veiling the extent of the oppression that Non-Muslim women are also struggling against.
- It is a racism that inspired acts of verbal and physical aggression, up to mass murder, attacks and sackings of places of worship, and forms of mass mobilization increasingly assimilated to the expression of “resistance” and patriotism.
The daily news tell us how much Islamophobia has become a furious bourgeois obsession. It is the grid of reading that is used to report and explain every day a growing number of local, national, and international events: it is the true narrative plot of our time.
Let’s make working class unity at the forefront of the struggle against Islamophobia!
Islamophobia is an extremely explosive racist cocktail. It initially creates an intolerable situation for those associated with the community targeted by these attacks. With their rights, freedom, and integrity threatened, and being marginalized in socio-economic terms, they have every reason to deserve our solidarity. But it is also the whole exploited class that the bourgeoisie weakens by dividing it on the basis of prejudices foreign to its interests, sowing distrust in it, causing confusion in consciousness.
Don’t let Islamophobia become what has been the ignoble tragedy of anti-Semitism in the 20th century!
The genuine need of the workers is not to fight religion, let alone to fight those who claim to have one faith or another; it is rather to fight against the capitalist exploiters—be they atheists, secularists, Christians or Muslims––that is, against the economic system and the policies that drive us all to crises, poverty, and war. Between proletarians, the confrontation of beliefs about religion, science, our worldviews, and our values is necessary, but it must be done through dialogue, in a spirit of camaraderie, without breaking our solidarity and our political independence in the face of the bourgeoisie.
Reject racism and Islamophobia! Unite against the bourgeoisie and its system!