Just last week, over 17,000 German citizens gathered and protested across the country. Their cause? Fighting against “Islamization of the West”. Although organizers claimied to only be against extremism and not against immigrants, as reported by Huffington Post, members of the rally chanted Islamophobic slogans mixed in with Christmas carols.
While the motivations of the group – Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) – are up in the air for interpretation, there is a better question that needs to be answered: why isn’t this being talked about?
The sad truth of the matter is that, like violence against marginalized people in the West, Islamophobia has become so normalized to the point that we don’t even bat an eye when it happens, even when it happens en masse. The one thing that does catch the eyes of Westerners is an act of violence in a Muslim-dominated country that every Muslim is expected to condemn and apologize for in order to prove their loyalty to the West and to serve as an exception the idea of all Muslims as barbaric terrorists.
When over a third of Western media outlets portray Muslims as oppressive, terrorizing, violent, and extreme, how are people supposed to think otherwise?
The Islam that is portrayed in the news that my own family watches is a political Islam – it is not a religion when it is twisted into the anti-West. It is the dream villain for the United States and Western nations: it illustrates corruption (often caused by colonization), oppression of women (perfect for Western white feminists to liberate!), terrorism (which is often against Western-influenced regimes and not at all Islamically justifiable, as the majority of Muslims are aware), and “backwardness” (a result of being pressed under European and Western powers before gaining independence). The US is the “city upon a hill” and its people are the defenders of its justice and patriotism is their religion.
This Batman and Bane battle that is portrayed in the news between the West and Muslims is tiresome – it is a never-ending fight where the onlookers don’t realize Bane is actually just a costume. Muslims, above all, understand how normalized the Western anti-Islam sentiments are at this point. Being called a terrorist, while it stings, doesn’t even break skin for me anymore – it builds upon the constant paper cuts that have built up. It is no longer “original” and is a bad joke that has been told one too many times, but the fact that it continues to fuel hatred towards Muslims that affects our daily lives is tiresome above all.
It is saddening that innocent people have been killed all because of lies they have been fed in order to fuel a political agenda against Muslims. It is terrifying that people who are not even Muslims have suffered because of ignorance that is perpetrated, and that people actually think killing a stranger will bring about justice for the terrorism that a small minority of Muslims have committed against the West.
The truth of the matter is that Islam is so politicized in media that it is no longer about the fact that we believe in one God and Muhammad (peace be upon Him) as his final Messenger. It doesn’t matter how many times we condemn terrorism. As long as media outlets continue to associate a religion with the underlying political issues in the Middle East and predominantly Muslim countries, Islam will only be interpreted as an extremist religious organization rather than a religion. Violence in all forms against Muslims will continue to be repressed as long as it is seen as rightful revenge, and people will continue to remain ignorant and not care because the repression is “normal”.