MISPERCEPTION: People's failure to distinguish between true Islam and extremism is the real problem
ANTI-MUSLIM voices are rising all across the world. In many countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain and Germany, new measures are being taken almost daily because of the reactions against the presence of Muslims. The increasing reactions are leading to serious divisions in societies.
Together with the rise in Islamophobia, bans on clothing aimed at Muslims have been introduced in public spaces. The construction of mosques or minarets has been halted in some places. In others, communal prayers in open spaces have been banned.
This reaction and fear towards Islam and Muslims have been propagandised through such artistic vehicles as books, films and cartoons.
This anti-Islamic sentiment, often supported through laws, has led to hostility towards Islam and thus to pressure, provocation and assault.
The stronger this perspective, which is being legitimised in the name of Islamophobia, the more Muslims are being exposed to persecution and loss of rights.
In many European countries, when a rise in the crime rate is identified, it is generally associated with migrants, particularly Muslims.
The acts of violence in Islamic countries and acts of terror perpetrated by radical Islamic terror organisations further strengthen this perspective in the West.
The rapid rise in the Muslim population in the world as a whole, compared with other beliefs, further intensifies these concerns of the West.
The world's Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 per cent in the next 20 years, from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.
With the term Islamophobia, the fear of Islam felt across the world is reflected as if it was a legitimate idea, and hatred and hostility towards Muslims become normal and ordinary.
Research has shown a significant increase in attacks on Muslims and mosques in the US and Europe in recent years. More than 450 Muslims, 85 per cent of them women, had been attacked in France last year.
In the last year and a half, 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks had taken place in England and Wales.
More than 500 mosques had been attacked in the US in the past 10 years and more than 100 in Holland in the past five. One hundred and twenty attacks per year take place in Germany.
The Islamic world, however, has not taken any effective measures regarding the path to be adopted in the face of this terrible scenario. The main reason is that Muslim communities are unable to identify the source of the problem and thus, the solution.
Indeed, some Muslims even regard Islamophobia as, rather than a real threat, "a virtual perception" or "a means by which politicians can shape mass opinion as they desire".
Since they are so mistaken on the subject, they are unable to find an effective solution. They hold symposia and talk about the unnecessary nature of this fear of Islam. They make calls for a joint campaign against Islamophobia and apply to the United Nations to declare that "Islamophobia should be a crime".
However, they fail to see the real problem and therefore cannot tell the world about it. The fact is, however, the way to put an end to Islamophobia is to explain the difference between "extremism and true Islam".
The reason for this groundless fear afflicting Western countries is simply that they confuse extremism with true Islam. However, since they lack the knowledge with which to distinguish between Islam and extremism, they target the real Islam and Muslims.
It is actually extremism they are trying to ban, not Islam. While true Islam is based on peace, love, affection and understanding, extremists are encouraging hatred and enmity.
While true Muslims encourage goodness, beauty and friendship with people of all beliefs, extremists depict Muslims as harsh, loveless and unwilling to compromise.
While Muslims seek to build a world of peace, tranquillity and love, extremists are encouraging conflict.
While Muslims try to bring art, science and beauty to the places they live in, extremists misrepresent Islam to the world on the basis of a total lack of quality.
As a result of these non-Quranic beliefs and lifestyles, fear and hatred of Islam are growing stronger. Across the world, extremists are ending up getting killed and also causing innocent Muslims to suffer harm, persecution and death.
The Islamic world must therefore distinguish between extremism and the true Islam, and make it clear that "extremism" is the sole cause of Islamophobia.
Adnan Oktar's article on New Straits Times