Does terrorism cause Islamophobia? The link between terrorism and hate crime is clear – apparently. An article in The Independent quoted Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters that “the biggest driver of anti-Muslim hate is terrorist attacks – the research is very clear here” (some more nuance to these views was given later through a blog post by Tell MAMA). The research supposedly backs up the idea that hate crime is a product of terror attacks in Britain, except that it doesn’t. A helpful review of the literature on the causes of hate crime is provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (.pdf). It includes works of psychology, such as that by Patrick Forscher, as well work by scholars such as Larry Ray who argue that the shame of economic failure translates into rage against minorities. There is also a relevant journal article by Jeffrey Kaplan, on the perceived threat of Muslims that results in spikes in hate crime following terror attacks.

Despite this, it is not an uncommon claim. I have heard it expressed in different ways, often but not exclusively from Muslims themselves, who feel that if only Muslims stopped engaging in terrorism, or stopped being involved in crime, or stopped parking so badly, that Islamophobia would cease to be a thing. This logic imagines that bigotry, discrimination, or racism are normal responses to social situations. Except this ignores the basic facts about this type of bigotry, namely, the incredible amount of energy involved in holding the delusions necessary to construct them. Bigotry is not ignorance, but a wilful delusion.

This is the same logic that argues racism against Black Americans is caused by gang crime, and ignores that it is a continuation of the relationship of subjugation established in the era of slavery. Likewise, Islamophobia stretches back further than 9/11.


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