Ace journalist, Mr Rasheed Abubakar has attributed the major cause of Islamophobia in the world to the spate of terrorist attacks carried out by extremists who hide under the name of Islam.
He made this disclosure yesterday, Friday while speaking at a media seminar on Islamophobia organised by the by the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Itire Ikate Area Council, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The media seminar is one of the activities of the annual week-long MSSN programme, holding simultaneously at all the 44 area councils in the State. The formal closing, which had prominent author, Dr Zafaran Adeniyi as the guest lecturer, is currently going on at Itire Central Mosque Hall, Lagos.
Mr Abubakar, while defining the term “Islamophobia”, said it is the fear, hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims generally, especially when seen as a geopolitical force or the source of terrorism.
“Scholars at different times have tried to define Islamophobia. But irrespective of the definitions offered, there are visible key terms such as fear, hatred, prejudice, irrational hostility and discrimination against Muslims on the basis of their religion, Islam,” he said.
Mr Abubakar, who is the publisher of Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper, also linked Islamophobia with racism, which he described as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
He said in the lecture, which was attended by about a hundred secondary school students, that it is quite possible for black Muslims living in Europe to suffer both Islamophobic and racist attacks for being Muslims and at the same time as blacks.
Mr Abubakar noted that the series of attacks carried out by DAESH, Boko Haram and other insurgent groups in the name of Islam sparked hate crimes and Islamophobic attacks against innocent Muslims in Europe, including the recent Christchurch Mosque attacks in New Zealand, where 50 worshippers were killed by a white supremacist terrorist.
Mr Abubakar, who is also a columnist with Daily Independent Nigeria, also identified the dominance of Islam as the only religion ordained by Allah and firmly established in the Noble Qur’an as another reason why Islamophobic attacks on its adherents persist.
According to him, there are thousands of religions in the world with millions of followers all over, but the Muslims believe that Islam is the only true religion.
“Do you think adherents of other religions would let that thrive, especially when they are in the majority, for instance, in a country like the US?
“This belief will definitely provoke intense hatred, leading to series of Islamophobic attacks on the adherents of Islam, which has been on the increase since the emergence of Trump as the US president. However, the word of Allah is true and cannot be changed, even if the unbelievers despise it,” he added.
Mr Abubakar, who has authored four books on Islam and the media, including “Media Narratives of Muslims in Nigeria”, also noted that media stereotyping of Muslims has further fuelled an increase in Islamophobic attacks.
According to him, in December 2016 for instance, The Sun, a British tabloid published on its front cover a story headlined, “Here’s what Terrorists Look Like”! with three images of a Hijabi Muslimah, a man in turban with a beard and a masked man, one of DAESH’s hit men.
“These are the identities of terrorists the media have been painting to the world and unfortunately, innocent Muslims are the victims of such stereotypes.
“The Nigerian media are part of the agenda. Like their Western counterparts, they tag the Boko Haram insurgents Jihadists, Islamists, thereby forcing what the group of misguided youths represent on the generality of Muslims. Sadly, when non-Muslims are victims of Boko Haram attacks, they blow such out of proportion, but when the victims are Muslims, they underreported such acts,” he said.
Mr Abubakar cited the recent harassment of a Muslim woman in Niqob (veil) in Abeokuta, Ogun state, adding that the incident got no mention at all in the Nigerian mainstream media because the victim at the receiving end was a Muslim.
Mr Abubakar, who is also the CEO of Rawshield PR Media, said while the efforts of Muslim rights groups like Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the US, Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) in the UK and MURIC and MPAC in Nigeria and other countries in combating Islamophobia are appreciated, there is need for the Muslim elites to invest in the media to help change such anti-Islam narratives.
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