Matthias Küntzel : At a time when Jew haters in the Islamic world have become more assertive than ever, Berlin’s Center for Research on Anti-Semitism is concentrating on a different group: the “new enemies of Islam.”
Who exactly belongs to this category is not clear from the center’s latest publication, the “Yearbook for Research on Anti-Semitism.” But the potential danger is supposedly known:”The fury of the new enemies of Islam is similar to the older rage of anti-Semites against the Jews,” writes Prof. Wolfgang Benz, the institute’s director. The center will present its new findings today at a conference in Berlin titled “Concepts of the Muslim Enemy — Concepts of the Jewish Enemy.”
It is certainly necessary to oppose the demonization of Muslims and discrimination against them, which often have racist motivations. The Berlin center, whose research covers prejudices in general, is right to address this issue. The problem lies in the way it is being done.
The Berlin center adopts the neologism “Islamophobia” without any reservation. This term is misleading because it mixes two different phenomena — unjust hatred against Muslims and necessary criticism of political Islam — and condemns both equally.
By accepting this vocabulary, the Berlin center reinforces an unfortunate trend. In May 2005, the Council of Europe — at the urging of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — used the term for the first time, condemning “all forms of intolerance . . . including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”
Yet this statement did not go far enough for the Muslim Council of Britain. “The fact is that Islamophobia has replaced anti-Semitism,”explained Abduljalil Sajid, an imam and leading member of the Muslim Council, a month later at a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Cordoba, Spain.He described as Islamophobic such statements as “Long live Israel!” and “Muslim fundamentalism is dangerous.”Meanwhile, various documents by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations have condemned Islamophobia as today’s most important and worst form of prejudice. More here
Prof. Wolfgang Benz, director of the Berlin Center for research on Anti-Semitism, recently stated that: “The fury of the new enemies of Islam is similar to the older rage of anti-Semites against the Jews,” which means by default, that the man is unable to discern between the two forms of xenophobia and racism. Appalling.
So it all boils down to a question of whether (a) prof.Benz is indeed ignorant of the basic subject material that the institution he is director of researches, or (b) he has succumbed to the political correctness of the day, and willfully mixed up the differences that seperate xenophobia from racism, in order to give “Islamophobia” an equal status footing with that of classical anti-Semtism. KGS
Tundraman weighs in: I’m irritated when I see an apparent lack of basic knowledge about how stereotyping works, even among those who should know (i.e., the Berlin institute). Negative stereotypes and prejudice can take at least two very different forms. Classical racism is based on feelings of superiority and a disdain for people considered to be inferior. Pure xenophobia is more connected to fear or hatred for targets considered to be dangerous.
Negative stereotypes reflecting xenophobia often consider its targets to be “competent” but to lack in warmth or morality. Thus, the group is depicted as dangerous and immoral; it can cause damage but has no charm to compensate for its negative features. Classical racism often depicts a group as incompetent but charming. It allows for feelings of superiority and a paternalistic attitude towards the target group – members can be tolerated even in close contact (as nannies, cooks, etc) as long as they know their (inferior) place.
It looks as if these two forms are mixed up; what we consider to be rational fear for an objective danger (the islamists) is dismissed as xenophobia, and the xenophobia (antisemitism) against Jews is ignored. At the same time, both classical racism and xenophobia against Muslims is of vital concern for everybody else.