Islamophobia vs. Muslim discrimination – perspective of an Italian Muslim

Friends will know that I am uncomfortable with the term “Islamophobia” and try to avoid using it. It seems to me to have become too conflated in popular parlance and different users of the word confuse too many concepts. Whenever anyone uses the term I’m never sure what I mean. Nevertheless I was intrigued to read an interview with Omar Camiletti [IslamOnline.net], Secretary of the Italian Branch of the Muslim World League, which covered the subject.

Camiletti argues that there is a “strong problem of Islamaphobia in Europe”. He fails to define “Islamaphobia” but implies that he talking about fear of Islam (as a religion) itself and argues that this is based on popular misunderstanding of Islam. I’m inclined to accept this but of more interest were his comments on discrimination.

From the article (my emphasis on bold):

IOL: There’s another study … which says that discrimination against Muslims in Europe ranges from verbal threats through to physical attacks on people and property.

Camiletti: This happened especially in England after 2001. I still insist though that Europeans don’t discriminate against Muslims. Moreover, it is the Muslims who have become more racist against Westerners because they feel the clash of civilization.

Woah! That’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons for some readers of this blog.

He goes on:

In England, I heard a Muslim say that all the English are “kuffar” (infidels). This is a person who has sought refuge in the UK and who is being given money from the English government to live. They don’t tolerate that Westerners drink alcohol, and many retain the idea that all Western women are immoral. Do you see the racism? A woman might be exposed because this is the fashion. In a few words, you can explain why you wouldn’t ever go out exposing your bellybutton but you can’t build walls.

Quite right!

Recognising his comments are a sweeping generalization, and accepting that as a proviso, I have to say that I agree with his general point: “Europeans don’t discriminate against Muslims. Moreover, it is the Muslims who have become more racist against Westerners because they [fear] the clash of civilization.”

Now, who’s going to be the first to take a bite? ;-)

2 Responses to “Islamophobia vs. Muslim discrimination – perspective of an Italian Muslim”


  • We all have our own experiences i suppose. I don’t want to generalise. I’ve had good experience in life so am not what you’d call ‘damaged good’, yet.

    Personally, i wont be forgetting the impacts and ongoing lamoness over colonialism (and getting colonised in the first place) and i still see a lot of cultural, military and epistemic invasion coming from ‘the west’ even in thing like ‘humanitarian action’ and ‘multilateral jiggery pokery’

    Brits, ok londoners i find are quite nice people, but i tend to avoid them when im abroad. Perhaps the folks living in barking will have another experience that they may or may not want to share..

    Who coined ‘islamaphobia’ anyway? Its not a very muslim style concept, well to my taste at least, though i’m sure that the 1990 Trust will have stacks of data to show that it has served a just cause in the UK.

    Here are two, which are more precise.

    Muslimosis – People getting fed up with Muslims. I tend to suffer from it sometimes.
    Shariaphobia – People averse to the teachings of islam and the political aspirations of Muslim communities.

    btw, whatever happened to FAIR?

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  • I’m not so sure I agree – at least entirely.

    Yes, Muslims in the West – as indeed any section of Western Society, can and do have prejudices, some of them Mr Camiletti quite rightly describes.

    But to suggest that Europeans do not discrimnate against Muslims is a little folly. It is clear that over 100 years after the campaigns for enfranchisement of women in British society, and I suppose thousands of years since their arrival in Britain ;o), we still discriminate against women in the workplace. That we (Europeans) do not discrimate against Muslims then must be unlikely indeed, especially given the current climate. Who discriminates against who more may be a valid question point.

    For my part, British to the core, yet with obvious cultural history and attachment elsewhere additionaly , my experiences are enough for me to know that I will not be accepted until I prove my Britishness. Whether that’s walking down the village lane up north, or returning from a day’s work on the tube in London I must be prepared to justify why I do not deserve the insult of my neighbour. That for me is the sad thing. Our current climate has made us all forgo our universal values of tolerance, of neighbourliness, of compassion, of safety and so many others that in the grand scheme of things we all hold to be sacred: be we driven by secular, Christian or Muslim values!

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