After Paris: The Rise of Islamophobia
The terrorist attack on Paris last week left not only over a hundred dead and more than 300 injured, but it also prompted an alarming increase in Islamophobic and anti-refugee sentiments all around the world. After ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on the French capital, a wave of hate crimes undulated through Europe, the United States, Australia and even Canada. This backlash is strongly reminiscent of the Islamophobia that gripped the United States after September 11. However, only 2 percent of all terrorist attacks since 2010 have been classified as being “motivated by religion”. The increasing reports of Islamophobic threats and assaults since the massacre in Paris on Friday has been striking fear into the hearts of Muslims worldwide. Over 220 anti-Muslim incidents were reported just in the first three months of this year.
In St. Petersburg, a Seminole man threatened to firebomb the Islamic Society of Pinellas County. He left an expletive-loaded voicemail in which he threatened to “shoot whoever (is) there on site in the head.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations states that they found this incident to be horrific. Meanwhile in Peterborough, Ontario, a mosque—Masjid Al-Salaam—was deliberately set on fire in what the local police are calling a hate crime. This is not an isolated incident of anti-Islamic sentiments in Canada. Just today in Quebec, a man wearing a Joker mask and holding a shotgun uploaded a video on YouTube in which he vowed to kill “one Arab a week” in response to the Paris massacre.
The IBTimes assessment of Islam in the United States shows that Americans are more Islamophobic now they than they were a mere four years ago:
Americans’ perceptions of Islam have turned increasingly negative in recent years, a survey released Tuesday from the Public Religion Research Institute revealed. Fifty-six percent of people surveyed agreed that the values of Islam are at odds with America’s values and way of life, which is a signüificant increase from 47 percent in 2011. The survey found that 73 percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, as did 63 percent of white mainline Protestants, 61 percent of Catholics, 55 percent of black Protestants, 41 percent of unaffiliated people and 37 of people practicing a non-Christian religion. By breaking down the results of the survey by political affiliation, the report also revealed that over three-quarters of Republicans think that Islam is incompatible with the American way of life, New Republic reported.
This re-invigoration of Islamophobia has contributed to the mobilization of a vast anti-refugee movement in both the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada. While France surprisingly opens its doors to 30,000 more refugees, many are petitioning the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to not accept the 25,000 Syrian refugees and in the United States, at least thirty governors have revealed their staunch positions on immigration by stating that they will not be allowing any Syrian refugees into their states. This announcement of their opposition was in response to the news that one of the suspects involved in the Friday Paris attacks may have been a Syrian refugee. Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director of CAIR, said that he believes “these governors are succumbing to fear and Islamophobia…This is really a non-issue because refugees and immigrants are checked thoroughly by the authorities before entering the US.” This has sparked the issue that many of GOP presidential candidates are using fear-mongering and anti-Muslim rhetoric to appeal to their followers.