Research Paper on Islamophobia in Western World Origins

Published: 2021-08-16
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George Washington University
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Research paper
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Islamophobia refers to the unwarranted fear portrayed against believers of the Muslim faith (Love 56). In the United States, the fear of the Muslims is real. This situation arises from a series of events that have happened in the United States for a long period of time that have created a negative perception of Islam. Notably was the 9/11 terrorist attack that left more than 2,000 people dead and scores injured. However, it appears that the issue of terrorism only majors around one group of people and downplays terrorism acts by other groups. It is therefore essential to understand the term terrorism because it relates a lot to the subject of Islamophobia. Terrorism refers to acts of violence and intimidation against civilians mainly used for gaining political mileage. The United States has experienced many attacks on its civilians that fall under the term terrorism but do not relate to the Muslim community. In the past two months, for example, there have been a series of terrorist acts across the nation.

On 1st October 2017, In Las Vegas, a man identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire in an open-air live concert event, killing 58 people and leaving more than 500 others injured. The man was an American citizen and had no known affiliation with any Islamic terrorist group. A month later, there was another shooting incidence in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where the killer shot and killed 26 people while 30 others injuries. The 26-year-old man named as Devin Patrick Kelly was also U.S citizen. These incidences among many other qualify as acts of terrorism. There also have been terrorist acts conducted by Muslims in the recent past. The focus, however, is not to analyze the kinds and number of terrorist acts carried out by Muslims or non-Muslims, but to determine whether Islamophobia in the United States is justifiable or the westerners are only fueling an issue from stereotypical beliefs.

Summary of Historical Events

A travel ban was issued by President Donald Trump on January 27th, 2017, intended to restrict the entry of people hailing from seven countries in the East: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (The White House). Another implication of the Executive Order was that the U.S would not be resettling refugees unless they proved that they were minority religious groups facing persecution. From the Executive Order, it is evident that the ban mainly targeted the Muslim community. President Trump later amended this order in March 2017, with the new document omitting Iraq and restricting only the issuance of new visas (The Washington Post).

However, this is not the first Muslim ban witnessed in the United States. During WW1, President Woodrow Wilson issued several executive orders that banned foreigners from traveling to or from America. However, the 1917 Immigration Act affected many European immigrants including Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The ban targeted Ottoman nationals because of the fear that there were jihad extremists made in Germany (Johnson 63). The American government also felt that the Ottomans were a threat because of their ties with Berlin. More importantly, it was the fear that the Muslims could rebel if convinced by Sultan Mehmet V.

However, the hostility between the West and Islam dates many years back. The situation continues to worsen with the passage of time and but the worst recorded events hit the climax of the frontiers during the crusade wars. The crusade era was a time when Muslims and European Christian armies fought each other in an area known as the frontier (Uzam 30). The Byzantine Empire and the Roman church organized these crusades as a way to conquer and occupy the holy land and the al-Quds belonging to the Muslims. The Muslim community managed to advance in many areas from 711 to 1200 A.D in Andalusia. After a while, there emerged some in-group fighting between the Muslims. The divisions experienced in the community and subsequent years of recession resulted with Christian kings taking the opportunity to exploit the Muslims. They imposed heavy taxes on their lands, deported them to North Africa where they forced them to convert. But it was the crumbling down of the Andalusian Muslims and colonization by the Europeans that introduced the biased white man ideology (Uzam 32). The Muslims felt that the Europeans and Americans viewed their culture more superior to others and wanted to impose it on them.

These were some of the tactics employed by the Europeans to destroy existing evidence of the Islamic civilization that could prove that the Muslim effort played a significant role in the development of Europe. Uzma quotes, III Philip, king of Spain, deported 300,000 Andalusian Muslims between 1610 and 1614 with a decree that he issued in 22nd of September in 1609. Nearly, 300.000 Muslims left their homeland. In that way, the traces of Muslims civilization in Spain were mostly obliterated.

Another form of fear developed halfway in the 20th century. At that time, the West was witnessing an influx of migration of people mainly from Eastern countries. The initial sense of fear among the westerners, mutated into racism and xenophobia and the notion twisted to appear like Islamophobia (Ernst 9). It is around this time that the westerners began to believe that although not every one of the Islamic faith is a terrorist, all terrorists are Muslims. Orientalism is another concept that explains the attitudes held by the westerners towards the East and the Muslims. This idea became popular among the western scholars and political leaders at the beginning of the industrial capitalism period. Most of the liberal economist despised Eastern countries. The likes of James Mill believed that the economies of these nations were stagnant and corrupt.

However, the real intention is that they needed to defend the actions of European colonizers. Other Christian leaders slandered the Eastern religion by terming it superstitious. Edward Said, a Christian evangelist, once remarked, The Orient exists for the Westerner, and it is produced within the relationship with the West and by the West. It is a mirror which reflects the other which is foreign to West and inferior to West.. It is from that time, that the superiority concept remains alive mainly among westerners who associate anything terrible to the East and Islam (The New York Times).


Executive order 13769 signed by President Donald Trump on January 27th, 2017 highlights the purpose of the travel ban and the implication on the identified groups.

The Executive Order 2341 signed by President Woodrow Wilson is a primary source that outlines the cancellation and issuance of passports to Americans returning to the country at the time. It also limited the movement from the Country to other enemy countries.

The 1917 Immigration Act serves as a primary source as it explains the first time the American Government restricted migration from several parts of the world among them the Islamic countries

Islamophobia and racism in America by Erik Love (2017) explores the problem of racism in the United States and other issues such as the increased terror attack. It also talks about the proposals made by Donald Trump and the implications of these problems for the Middle Eastern Americans.

The second secondary source is the book by Carl W Ernst (2013) that handles among other things, Islamophobia and the American History, the history of state Islamophobia, religious stereotyping and outgrouping of Muslims.

The academic journal by Dr. Uzma Jamil (2014) looks at the relationship between the Muslims and America, especially after the 9/11 ordeal. It also critics the information held by the public about the Muslim faith. It also examines the Orientalism discourse.

The Washington Post on March 6th March 2017 reviewed the details of the Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 27th, 2017.

The New York Newspaper on November 2017 highlights the problem Islamic women faith from the Islamophobia concept.

The YouTube documentary is about Muslim youth in America and their experiences after the 9/11.


It is evident that Islamophobia is a situation resulting from lack of appreciation of other peoples culture. Americans generalization of all Muslim believers to being terrorists fuels the fear among citizens. However, it appears that the Muslim community experienced many injustices in the past that contributes to some of the violent reactions from the extremist's groups. The sentiments of leaders and other people of influence also escalate this situation. It will be of the essence for the American government to identify ways of handling terrorism acts without victimizing an entire community.

Works Cited

Dr. Uzma Jamil. "Reading Power: Muslims in the War on Terror Discourse." Islamophobia Studies Journal, vol. 2, no. 2, 2014, pp. 29-42.

Ernst, Carl W. Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Executive Order 2341Relating to Cancellation and Reissue of Passports. The White House, 1916. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

Fusion. "Young Muslim Americans React to Islamophobia." YouTube, 14 Jan. 2016,

Johnson, Albert, editor. To Amend the Immigration Act of 1917. February 16, 1931. -- Ordered to Be Printed. s.n., 1931.

Love, Erik R. "Islamophobia in America." Islamophobia and Racism in America, 1st ed., New York University Press, 2017, pp. 56-92.

The New York Times. "Muslim Women, Caught Between Islamophobes and Our Men." The New York Times, 19 Nov. 2017.

The Washington Post. Revised executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from getting new visas, 6 Mar. 2017, Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

The White House. Executive Order13769 Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States. The White House, 2017. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

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