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November 1, 2019

‘Islamophobia created to serve certain ends’


November 1, 2019

Islamabad :Polarisation between Islamic and the Western civilisation is not natural and instead, it has been created purposefully by the global economic elite to achieve certain economic, political and strategic goals, insisted Dr Tamara Sonn, the professor of History of Islam at Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

She was speaking at the Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Memorial Symposium organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) here on ‘Islam, Politics, and Contemporary Societies’.

The session was chaired by Dr Anis Ahmad, vice-chancellor, Riphah International University (RIU), and addressed by Khalid Rahman, executive president of the IPS, Dr Ejaz Akram, adviser at the Faculty of Contemporary Studies, National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, and Dr Safeer Awan of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad.

Dr Sonn, in the keynote speech, said the roots of the term ‘Islamic extremism’ were political rather than natural and there were certain political and economic reasons why Islam was consistently being put up as a threat by the West.

"Even the identity of ‘The West’ is, in fact, a fiction created step by step only about a hundred years ago to shape an environment where the global elite could exercise more control," she said.

The expert said Europe took charge of framing the history of the modern era in the 17th century and that was the time when many important changes were made.

She said gradually, history courses were introduced in European universities and later these were made compulsory before the Oriental studies were introduced that later transformed into area studies such as Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies – basically portraying ‘The West’ as the central civilization while calling other societies as ‘the rest’.

"One of the outcomes of shaping this flawed history was the portrayal of Muslims as villains and the spread of hatred against them, which eventually led to the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, occupation of Palestine and Kashmir and the killings of Muslims in Myanmar. The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory of American political scientist Samuel Huntington has also played a role in the global conflicts after the Cold War," she said.

Dr Sonn pointed out that all cultures share or borrow values from each other, whereas the Jewish, Christian and Islamic history too does not only share several scriptures but also many values.

She said as a matter of fact, the West, too, had borrowed significantly from the Muslim civilisation.

“The Muslims developed the first university of human history in the 10th century, a century earlier than the West. Sometimes I wonder where would the Western civilization be without the Arabian language, numerals, etc,” she added.

The expert concluded by saying we must understand that nothing is more convenient for the global economic elite – which is not a group of people but rather the way money works – to keep us busy fighting with each other.

"It becomes even a bigger challenge for us as human beings in these circumstances to keep trying our best to sanctify every aspect of the human life," she said.

Dr Ejaz echoed Dr Sonn’s opinion maintaining that it is the huge political economy of defence that is at play in the contemporary world.

"It is making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and the whole point behind maintaining this game is to gain better control of the world."

Khalid Rahman, in his opening speech, said there was no doubt that Islam was the most discussed religion in contemporary times but sadly, it was widely depicted by the Western world as per their own prejudiced perception. "The outbreak of Islamophobia has political and economic aspects rather than religious tones," he said.

Dr Anis said in today’s world everything ranging from the economy to feelings has become very Eurocentric.

He, however, said the Muslims should stop blaming the West for all their problems.

"The journey has to begin with liberation from Eurocentrism and taking guidance from the Holy Quran. The uniqueness of the Quran lies in its universalism, and it is the duty of academicians to simplify the depth of wisdom offered by the holy book for the understanding of the common man," he said.