Months after the gruesome and shocking massacre of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, Islamophobic hatred is on the rise not only in the western countries, Russia or China but almost all over the world. This is not just another bad news or another crazy and unfortunate trend; it is far more than that. The rising tide of hatred against Muslims is making day to day lives of Muslims living in the west or elsewhere a distressing and challenging struggle. The heartening outpouring of sympathies for the victims of Christchurch mosque shooting greatly relieved some pain but the hateful rhetoric spewed by the alt-right or white supremacists grew in its intensity as Islamophobic hate crimes continued to increase. Muslims are being systematically suppressed in countries like China and Myanmar; the largest internment centers after the Second World War are being operated by China for the so called re-education of millions of Muslims. Silence of international community upon the unspeakable horrors suffered by Rohingya Muslims is deplorable to say the least. There is an environment of fear, estrangement, alienation and otherness that Muslims are forced to live in because of growing Islamophobia or antimuslimism as some prefer to call it. The rise of populist right wing leaders in European countries has contributed to this growing trend of irrational fear, some commentators like Yasmeen Qureshi a labor MP and shadow justice minister from Bolton England has pointed out the existence of institutionalized Islamophobia in the European union, which manifests itself in the form of discriminatory trade policies towards Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey.  Alt right populists are now in power in some European countries like Hungary where Viktor Orban is prime minister. Other populist leaders who have gained political profit from anti-Muslim rhetoric have achieved greater political power in recent years in their respective countries for example Marine Le Pen (France), Matteo Salvini (Italy) and Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Heinz-Christian Strache (Austria) to name a few.  Far right political parties and ultranationalists organizations like Pegida (German based), European defense league (EDL), English Defense League, Austrian Freedom Party etc. have seen unprecedented increase in their following and membership.

Islamophobia in Asia is increasing at a disturbing rate according to various news reports. After the horrific Christchurch shooting Islamophobic hate mongering touched new heights on China’s local social media apps according to a report of foreign policy magazine. The same magazine reports that Muslim groups in China privately report a growing number of attacks by groups labeling themselves as “anti-halal,” including the smashing of windows and the reporting of minorities to the police. DW reported that anti Muslim hate propaganda carried out by extremist Buddhists has intensified over the years in countries like Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. There is an unprecedented level of Muslim persecution carried out in Myanmar and Myanmar government plays the role of silent spectator. Aung San Suu Kye the once celebrated democrat and icon of human rights has exposed herself as another populist leader willing not to do even the bare minimum to protect her Muslim compatriots from a visible slaughter. The world’s most populous India is no stranger to this rising monster of global Islamophobia especially after the Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2013. Anti Muslim riots and mob lynching on flimsy accusations of cow slaughter and love Jihad has become a norm in Prime Minister Modi’s shining India.

Across the Anglophone democracies an online subculture of white supremacist neo Nazi ideology thrives on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This subculture deems it right to mock and denounce Muslim culture as barbaric, primitive, sexist and alien, demonizing them by generalizing stereotypes and dealing in fear mongering and panic. Outlandish conspiracy theories like the great replacement, the white genocide and Eurabia are being endorsed online to further xenophobic anti immigrant agenda especially targeting Muslim migrants living in Europe. This transnational online subculture endorses use of violence against Muslims and advocates doing something in real life rather than online activism to stop Muslims from taking over Europe. Video games like Muslim massacre (released with screen name sigvatre in 2008), songs like remove kebab and countless hateful memes have been created and being propagated online to foment even more Muslim hate and morbid fear of Islam.

This growing morbid fear of Islam and its followers in modern globalized world is the cause of  great concern for so many people, the enormity and intensity of this hate makes us question as to what will this monstrous hate lead to and what will it do to the future of millions of Muslims in Europe, the Americas, India and China. There are some pertinent questions, why there is so much hate? How can Muslims tackle with this exceedingly difficult situation? And most importantly what can be the consequences of this growing Islamophobia? Are Muslims prepared to deal with the consequences? Muslims are worried as to what is going to happen to their children in the future, because they feel they are living on borrowed time and something as terrible as the holocaust, pogroms or the Reconquista is bound to happen.

It is clear that Muslims can’t live normal and healthy lives under such stressful conditions where they have to prove their loyalty to their host country every other day, and where they are constantly reminded that they actually belong somewhere else. Living a normal life in a situation where Muslims as a monolithic whole are made to be accountable for the violent actions of some fringe groups is really challenging.

Even though growing but these Islamophobic opinions are espoused by a minority of western public, and rule of law and respect for human rights is strong in the European countries it is  still not impossible for Muslims to live and grow in the west but this is the crucial moment to take up the issue of islamophobia seriously. It is a matter of imminent importance to start a dialogue with the far right political parties of Europe as their power and popularity is growing, at the same time the causes of growing islamophobia need to be researched, understood and addressed. Large scale migration of Muslim population to European countries is one the causes but it is not the only cause as the top European countries where negative public perception of Muslims is most pronounced happen to be Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece. Muslim migration to these countries has been much smaller as compared to France, Germany and the UK where public perception about Muslims is comparatively better than Hungary, Italy and Poland.

The big question remains as to what can Muslim communities and Muslim governments do to improve this situation how can the strained relations between followers of Islam and followers of other religions or no religion be improved? It is time to think hard what makes some Europeans hate Muslims and Islam, and why far right parties are increasing in power and popularity?

It is time for Muslim leaders to carve out a way for Muslim integration in western society and highlight the value that Muslims added to the richness of western culture and services Muslim immigrants rendered for the advancement of European economies. There is great need for mutual understanding among different religions, cultures and civilizations because every country will have multicultural cities and towns in the coming decades. Muslims need to develop greater understanding of modern western values and need to embrace these values when they are living in the west. Muslim governments of important Muslim countries like Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia must invest money in some sort of scholarships or student exchange programmes for western youth to help them develop a firsthand experience and understanding of Muslim cultures. There is need, more than ever for Muslims to:

  • Denounce the fringe groups who espouse extremist views and believe or/and practice violence to solve problems.
  • Respond with great patience and rationality to criticism of Islam and Holy prophet and denounce those who resort to violence in response to criticism or even hate speech.
  • Demand for legislation banning hate speech, demonization of Muslims as a community and unjust stereotyping of Muslims by media.