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To engage or to oppose – dealing with Islamophobia in the West

Dec 13, 2021

By Staff Writer
13:12:2021
The Islamic Human Rights Council (IHRC), on 11 and 12 December, held a conference to discuss the issue of Islamophobia, and more specifically, the political, cultural, historical and academic means of dealing with such. The conference sought to look at civil and political life, especially in Western countries, and the means of manoeuvring with this, engaging with it and tackling it.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Professor Saeed Khan of Wayne State University reiterated that this was a growing and intensifying issue in the West. There were different ways of understanding it and tackling it, and that the conference was aimed at charting such. The conference explored, “the idea then of engagement, how, or should we Muslims, living in a society, especially those in so-called Western countries, should they then use their agency living in these countries to engage with government and other institutions?… Is that kind of engagement serving as an endorsement, does it legitimise, does it normalise the policies.” Significantly, it concerned not only Muslims and Islamophobia, but also other minorities, and vulnerable societies, according to professor Khan.

Professor Khan noted Islam’s vibrancy, and some different opinions spawned, especially to the point of argumentation, “often what happens is that one person may be arguing either too or against the idea of engagement, and they may be doing so within a theological narrative, but they’re being countered by somebody who responds within either a cultural or a political Or an academic narrative, And so sometimes what we find is that there are those disconnections because people are arguing in these different disciplines.” Significantly, the conference sought to synthesise these arguments, both for and against, creating a map of the different positions, yet also trying to come up with different ways to deal with such.

Lastly, Professor Khan noted that Islamophobia, especially in the West, exists and is being politicised and opportunistically instrumentalised by positions. The conference was a means of teasing out whether these are mainstream positions, or are being politicised and a suitable method of dealing with it.

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