Islamophobia appears to be so casual nowadays to the point that it is increasingly becoming the norm. On Friday, during a town hall rally in New Hampshire, US presidential candidate Donald Trump failed to condemn an outspoken audience member who called for the ridding of America of Muslims, and claimed that President Barack Obama is not an American.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man told Trump. “We know our current president is one.You know he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”
Instead of condemning the remark, Trump said, “We need this question. This is the first question.”
The man continued: “But, anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Today, Islamophobia has become so casual to the point that we are becoming increasingly numb to it. General attitudes towards Muslims nowadays – whether it is fear or downright hostility – are at least in part the result of constant reinforcement from the mainstream and right-wing media. An individual may not necessarily agree with such narratives presented, but their response is comparable to how images of children being killed in Palestine tend to no longer register outrage in people today. Even those who openly object to Islamophobia may eventually become numb to such regular bombardment from the news, simply because to constantly do so is tiring. Even Muslims themselves may be getting tired of having to apologise for the actions of those who misrepresent their religion in the eyes of the world.
Undeniably, the presence of ISIS is a threat to world peace. But the fact remains that the media seems so intent on regularly associating Muslims with terrorism to the point that all we can do is passively comply. Eventually, it may get to the point that the seeds of doubt may be sown in a person’s mind with every Muslim they meet in the real world. That no matter how well-adjusted an individual is, there is always a chance that they could potentially turn out to be a home-grown terrorist.
The Syrian refugee crisis has only heightened fears that refugees in Europe could eventually turn out to be potential terrorists. In contrast, the attack on the sacred al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli police last week was met with a relatively tepid public response. Perhaps it is because Muslims have become so dehumanised in the Western media that the public has now become detached and unsympathetic with them altogether.
Earlier this week, a 14-year-old Muslim student from a Dallas suburb was arrested after taking his homemade digital clock to school. Ahmed Mohamed had designed the clock in his own bedroom on the previous weekend and took it to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, the following Monday. Alarmed teachers claimed it resembled a bomb and called the police, who went on to detain the student before releasing him to his family.
This incident alone is indicative of how overwhelming the paranoia over Muslims has become in the Western world.
This incident alone is indicative of how overwhelming the paranoia over Muslims has become in the Western world. One could argue that the lack of understanding as to WHY terrorist groups exist in the first place could explain such general levels of ignorance. Do people even bother to question the psychological motives behind terrorist movements, or are people merely content with the reasoning that terrorists are simply brainwashed to hate the freedoms championed by the West? Or could it also be due to decades of Western-led imperialism in the Middle East?
The fact that Muslims have become so dehumanised to the point that they seem devoid of reason and rationality in this regard is a major part of the problem. Or maybe, deep down inside, the average onlooker does not wish to know or care, and finds it much easier to go along with what media narratives are constantly telling them.