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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchCountering Islamophobia/Anti-Muslim Hatred to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or...

Countering Islamophobia/Anti-Muslim Hatred to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief

Author: Ahmed Shaheed

Affiliation: University of Essex (UK), Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Centre (Canada), and former Foreign Minister of the Maldives (2005 to 2007, 2008 to 2010)

Organization/Publisher:  United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

Date/Place: February-March 2021/New York, USA

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 23


Keywords: Islam, Ideology, Politics, Fundamentalism, 9/11, Terrorism, Human Rights, Islamophobia




The publishing of this report by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights indicates the legitimacy of efforts to counter Islamophobia and the actions of anti-Muslim alliances. The UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion analyzes the evolving situation of Islamophobia and emphasizes how it has risen to the level of an epidemic. Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias have led to climates of exclusion, fear and distrust. The report further notes that Muslims often feel stigma, shame and a sense that they are “suspect communities” who are being forced to bear collective responsibility for the actions of a small minority. The report specifically calls out India, which has witnessed a massive increase in anti-Muslim hate and actions under the governance of its Hindu nationalist party. In particular, the report notes how half of police reportedly believe that Muslims are “very much naturally prone to committing crimes.” A whopping figure of 37% of the European population holds unfavorable views of Muslims; the report cites studies from 2018 and 2019. Similarly, in 2017, the report notes some 30% of Americans viewed Muslims in a negative light. Referring to Myanmar, it says the unchecked Buddhist nationalism which sees Islam as a threat to “overrun” the country has contributed to egregious atrocities and persecution against Rohingya Muslims. It also sheds light on how State and public suspicion reduces when a Muslim conceals or underplays religious identity or tries to be seen as more “moderate.” Bringing essential services including education and care sectors within the national security apparatus disproportionately heightens surveillance of Muslims, it says, emphasizing that such government policies suppress the ability of Muslims to freely be Muslim. Referring to the 2006 report by Special Rapporteurs Asma Jahangir and Doudou Diene that States must protect the rights of religious minorities even if other members of the community engage in intolerant acts, the report says: “Islamophobia infringes on the rights to freedom of religion or belief and non-discrimination where it influences policies and practices related to immigration, policing, employment, education, and housing, among other sectors.”


By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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