What is behind the controversy over the term “Islamophobia”?

What is behind the controversy over the term “Islamophobia”?

In “Le Figaro La Nuit” on Wednesday May 15, when asked if he was Islamophobic, Philippe Val responded in the affirmative, arguing that the term Islamophobia was created to prevent any criticism of the Muslim religion and claiming his right to being phobic about a religion.

These arguments have been used for years by notorious racists who want to hide their racism under the acceptable guise of freedom of expression.

Indeed, contrary to the allegations of P. Val and others, the term “Islamophobia” appeared in 1910 in French works specializing in West African Islam to denounce behavior hostile to Muslims. Dictionaries of the French language, such as Petit Robert and Grand Larousse, define it as a particular form of racism directed against Muslims. The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), the UN Commission on Human Rights and European anti-racism institutions also consider it synonymous with anti-Muslim racism.

Also cloaking oneself in the fact that “Islamophobia” would be used by some to limit the freedom to criticize Islam is nonsense which ignores the history of the word and its widely accepted use in the fight against racism. anti-Muslim.

The argument about “phobia” is also problematic when we think about other similar terms like “xenophobia”, “Judeophobia” or “homophobia”. And if we stick to the literal meaning of the term, anti-Arab acts would also be anti-Semitic acts since Arabs are also Semites.

In reality none of the expressions used in the fight against racism are free from grievances or improper usage. But, it is clear that those who want to reduce the term “Islamophobia” to criticism or fear of Islam never condemn hatred of Muslims. By refusing to put words to designate it, they also want to deny its existence. In doing so, they incite anti-Muslim hatred while having a totem of immunity.

Paris on May 21, 2024,

The French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM)