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Experts: Islamophobia in West fuels hatred against Muslims in other regions

Islamophobia in the US and Europe has spread and triggered hatred against Muslims in other parts of the world, including the Asia-Pacific region, according to experts.

“It is legitimate today to talk about the globalisation of Islamophobia,” John Louis Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, told the Anadolu Agency.

Esposito pointed out that Islamophobia first became a major global issue after the 1979 revolution in Iran and then the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, adding that while Islamophobia initially became prevalent in the US, Britain, and Germany, it later spread to other regions, “even in northern Europe where you don’t even have that many Muslims.”

“You have the issues of Myanmar, former Burma. You have the issues in China with regards to the Uighurs. In both cases, you even have international communities talking about genocide,” he elaborated further.

“The really stunning thing is, even more than that, the extent to which it (Islamophobia) has become global,” he stressed, suggesting that anti-Muslim sentiments were spreading across the political spectrum.

In France, for example, not just far-right politician Marine Le Pen, but President Emmanuel Macron, too, resorted to hostile rhetoric against Muslims during the election campaign season, Esposito said, adding that these political figures’ attitude toward the Muslim community was one of cultural conflict.

Noting that Islamophobia was not met with a sufficient outcry, he said: “It is interesting that when you actually say how many Muslim governments have spoken out and major, international Muslim organisations have spoken out. There is a silence there.”

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Marginalisation of Muslims

According to researcher Arsalan Iftikhar, right-wing movements across the world were learning from movements in Europe and America.

“The right-wing movement around the world are taking their political cues from European and American right-wing movements, other global right-wing movements,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Iftikhar, who penned “Fear of a Muslim Planet: Global Islamophobia in the New World Order,” also said that these movements are trying to marginalise Muslims and other minorities within their lands.

“It is important to understand the context and the cues they take from one another,” he went on to say, pointing to the example of hijab bans in European countries that started in France under then-president Jacques Chirac in 2004 and other nations which adopted Islamophobic policies.

“There are attacks on Muslims all over India. There are hijab bans in the southern state of Karnataka, which, again, literally takes their cues from Europe as well.”

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