Why is there Islamophobia but no Hinduphobia or Buddhistphobia?

Hinduism and Buddhism have, generally speaking, created much less trouble for the world compared to Islam. What is referred to as Islamophobia is a result of primarily two influences:

  • Uninformed bigotry
  • Justified fear of political Islam

The first kind rules the minds of those who have failed to make distinction between how many Muslims see their faith. It conflates the very practice of Islam with everything bad that is done by Muslims. Although Islam is indeed in need of serious reform in several respects (including its overall constrictive nature that does not allow for any criticism of its tenets whatsoever), the form of Islam practised by extremist Muslims has little to do with what the Muslim next door to you believes his faith to represent.

The second influence has to do with the growing influence of political Islam in world affairs. There are bodies and organisations that are actively pushing for the recognition of Islamic law as a way to run modern societies. And it doesn’t stop there. Insults (perceived or otherwise) to Islam, its holy book, or its prophet, appear to be reason enough for followers to commit violence. One does not have to strain one’s memory to remember the last major instance of such behaviour — Charlie Hebdo.

Islamist violence is not even localised. Most modern countries, and even Islamic countries regularly report attacks carried out in the name of Islam. If it is not a global phenomenon, it is definitely a globally observed one.

Compare this with the possibility of Hinduphobia or Buddhistphobia. Fear of Hindus is relatively localised. In India, a certain brand of political Hinduism is a danger to a certain kind of progressive thought. Like in Islam, there are many Hindus who do not associate with it. But globally, Hindus are far from being seen as threats to modern civilisation.

Buddhists, even less so. The only instance of Buddhist violence I can remember is the one in Myanmar from a few years ago. Though some terrible violence happened there, it did not translate into global ill will for the religion.

It is useful to remember that the position that political Islam occupies these days was once occupied by Christianity. But through internal reform, much of Christianity has turned less obviously dangerous. Hindus and Buddhists too, in ages past, have done less than honourable things. But a good number of those practices have been abandoned following internal reform.

The solution to Islamophobia is internal reform. If those who follow Islam do not do it, who will?

#islamophobia, #religion, #buddhists, #hindus, #muslims, #islam