Friday, August 31, 2007

Is Islamophobia Racism?

Straight from the Hatewatch hall of Shame .

The claim continues to be raised that Islamophobia is not racism. Let’s examine that issue, breaking it down into its individual issues, and see what conclusions we can draw.

Before we begin, I must make a slight change to the original thesis, because I forgot that some of the hate mongers who read this are learning impaired, in addition to being reality impaired. My thanks to Cristy Li for reminding me of this. Legitimate, fact-based criticism of a particular problem of Islam is not racism. As we will see, an irrational fear or hatred of Islam, resulting in a pattern of or doctrine of discrimination, hatred or intolerance of Islam, is indeed racism. This is further defined below.

For those who claim that the definitions below are "Sutter's" or that the conclusion of "Islamophobia is racism" is "Sutter's", I suggest you read this again. I am using source material from dictionaries, encyclopedias, the United Nations, the European Union Charter, highly-respected universities, the United States Declaration of Independance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the U.S. Supreme Court, more than twenty world reknowned scholars, and the Runnymede Trust. So it is very inaccurate to claim these are my opinions, these are the opinions and definitions (and in some cases the legal decisions) of the afore-mentioned.

First let’s define the root of “racism”, that being “race”.

There are two different types of classifications of the term “race”. The first is the used by Physical Anthropologists and Biologists, therefore an anthropological, biological definition, based on physical characteristics, this definition is used almost exclusively by biologists and geneticists in their studies and peer-reviewed papers. This definition has also become quite controversial within the scientific community because of the mixture of physical characteristics in multicultural societies, and is considered antiquated and no longer accurate in its use. Scientists are in the process of eliminating this term and changing it to “Genetic qualities” or something similar.

Since none of the people listed in this blog are physical anthropologists or biologists with peer reviewed publications, the first definition (aside from being antiquated, as noted above) does not apply here. We will, therefore, look at the second category, the second classification of the term “race” as used by Cultural Anthropologists and sociologists, therefore a cultural definition, based on any common characteristics of a large group . This is also the definition of “race” used in the contemporary vernacular, and is the one that applies to the people listed in this blog.

Let’s look at several definitions to answer these questions:

What is the definition of “race”?

What is the definition of “racism”?

What is the definition of “racist”?

Is Islamophobia considered racism?

In sites where there are multiple definitions, the highlighted ones are the definitions that apply to this thesis:

Definitions of “Race”: Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source

race2 /reɪs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[reys] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation


1. a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.

2. a population so related.

3. Anthropology.

a. any of the traditional divisions of humankind, the commonest being the Caucasian, Mongoloid, and Negro, characterized by supposedly distinctive and universal physical characteristics: no longer in technical use.

b. an arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, esp. formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups.

c. a human population partially isolated reproductively from other populations, whose members share a greater degree of physical and genetic similarity with one another than with other humans.

4. a group of tribes or peoples forming an ethnic stock: the Slavic race.

5. any people united by common history, language, cultural traits, etc.: the Dutch race.

6. the human race or family; humankind: Nuclear weapons pose a threat to the race.

7. Zoology. a variety; subspecies.

8. a natural kind of living creature: the race of fishes.

9. any group, class, or kind, esp. of persons: Journalists are an interesting race.

10. the characteristic taste or flavor of wine.


11. of or pertaining to the races of humankind.

[Origin: 1490–1500; Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

American Heritage Dictionary -
race 1 (rās) n.
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.
5. Biology
a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality.

Home > Library > Reference > Britannica Concise Encyclopedia


"Race" is today primarily a sociological designation, identifying a class sharing some outward physical characteristics and some commonalities of culture and history.

Now that we’ve defined the root word “race”, let’s look at the words “racism”, “racist”, and “Islamophobia”, so that we can see if Islamophobia is considered racism.

Definitions of “racism” and “racist” (keeping in mind we’ve already defined “race”): Unabridged (v 1.1) Unabridged (v 1.1)
rac·ism /
ˈreɪsɪzəm/ Show Spelled Pronunciation[rey-siz-uhm]

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

[Origin: 1865–70;

—Related forms

racist, noun, adjective Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

American Heritage Dictionary -
rac·ism (rā'sĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key n.
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
rac'ist adj. & n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: 'rA-"si-z&m also -"shi-
Function: noun
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

WordNet -
1. based on racial intolerance; "racist remarks"
2. discriminatory especially on the basis of race or religion
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.




1. the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races

2. discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Definition of Islamophobia

WordNet -
prejudice against Muslims; "Muslim intellectuals are afraid of growing Islamophobia in the West"
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Wikipedia: Entry in Wikipedia

Islamophobia is the fear and/or hatred of Islam, Muslims or Islamic culture. Islamophobia can be characterised by the belief that all or most Muslims are religious fanatics, have violent tendencies towards non-Muslims, and reject as directly opposed to Islam such concepts as equality, tolerance, and democracy.

It is viewed as a new form of racism whereby Muslims, an ethno-religious group, not a race, are nevertheless constructed as a race.

A set of negative assumptions are made of the entire group to the detriment of members of that group.

During the 1990's many sociologists and cultural analysts observed a shift in forms of prejudice from ones based on skin color to ones based on notions of cultural superiority and otherness.

Declarations Against Racism:

Racial discrimination contradicts the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen issued during the French Revolution and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed after World War II, which all postulate equality between all human beings.

In 1950, UNESCO suggested in The Race Question —a statement signed by 21 scholars such as Ashley Montagu, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gunnar Myrdal, Julian Huxley, etc. — to "drop the term race altogether and instead speak of ethnic groups". The statement condemned scientific racism theories which had played a role in the Holocaust. It aimed both at debunking scientific racist theories, by popularizing modern knowledge concerning "the race question," and morally condemned racism as contrary to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and its assumption of equal rights for all. Along with Myrdal's An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944), The Race Question influenced the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decision in "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka". (“Toward a World without Evil: Alfred Métraux as UNESCO Anthropologist (1946-1962)”, by Harald E.L. Prins, UNESCO (English) )

The United Nations uses the definition of racial discrimination laid out in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1966:

...any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.(Part 1 of Article 1 of the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) (Text of the Convention, [['International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1966)

In 2000, the European Union explicitly banned racism along with many other forms of social discrimination:

Article 21 of the charter prohibits discrimination on any ground such as race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, disability, age or sexual orientation and also discrimination on the grounds of nationality. (

Is Islamophobia Considered Racism?

Islamophobia refers to prejudice or discrimination against Islam or Muslims. (Sandra Fredman, Discrimination and Human Rights, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199246033, p.121.) The term dates back to the late 1980s, [1] but came into common currency after the September 11, 2001 attacks. [2]

In 1997, the British Runnymede Trust defined Islamophobia as the "dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims," stating that it also refers to the behavior of excluding Muslims from the "economic, social, and public life of the nation." It includes the perception that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West, is a violent political ideology rather than a religion, and that discriminatory practices against Muslims are justified.

A number of individuals and organizations have made attempts to define the concept. Kofi Annan told a UN conference on Islamophobia in 2004: "[W]hen the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia." [1]

In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, chaired by Professor Gordon Conway, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex. Their report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. In this report, Islamophobia was defined by the Trust as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination." The first documented use of the word in the United States was by Insight magazine in 1991, used to describe Russian activities in Afghanistan.

The Runnymede report identified eight perceptions related to Islamophobia:

Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.

It is seen as separate and "other." It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.

It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.

It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.

It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.

Criticisms made of "the West" by Muslims are rejected out of hand.

Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.

Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal. [4]

The above perceptions are seen as closed views on Islam. These are contrasted, in the report, with open views on Islam which, while founded on respect for Islam, permits legitimate disagreement, dialogue and critique. [5]

[1] Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, Runnymede Trust, 1997, p. 1, cited in Quraishi, Muzammil. Muslims and Crime: A Comparative Study, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2005, p. 60; Annan, Kofi. "Secretary-General, addressing headquarters seminar on confronting Islamophobia", United Nations press release, December 7, 2004.

[2] Casciani, Dominic. "Islamophobia pervades UK - report", BBC News, June 2, 2004. Rima Berns McGowan writes in Muslims in the Diaspora (University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 268) that the term "Islamophobia" was first used in an unnamed American periodical in 1991.

[3] Runnymede 1997, p. 5, cited in Quraishi 2005, p. 60

[4] "Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All"PDF (69.7 KiB), Runnymede Trust, 1997.

[5] Benn; Jawad (2004) p. 162


We have now seen the definition of “race” from Random House, American Heritage Dictionary, and the Britannica Encyclopedia, showing that “race” means any group or class of people united by cultural traits, language, etc., sharing a common heritage (summarizing the various definitions).

We have seen the definition of the words “racist” and “racism” from Random House Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam Webster Dictionary, Princeton University, the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the European Union’s International Charter. Racism is (again summarizing what we see here) discrimination, hatred or fear of anyone of a specific race. A “racist” is someone who commits racism.

We have seen the definition of “Islamophobia” from Princeton University and from Wikipedia, with a very detailed definition from the Runnymede Trust. We have seen the UN condemnation of Islamophobia. We have seen, from reading the above, that Islamophobia is an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.

Under the definition of “race” Muslims definitely qualify as a “race”, even the UN, the EU and the Runnymede Trust agree on this. Under the definition of “racist” and “racism”, acts of Islamophobia (as defined herein) are most definitely racist acts and Islamophobia itself is a racist attitude. The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center consider Islamophobia as racism.

The inescapable conclusion: Islamophobia is racism, ergo, Islamophobes (those who practice Islamophobia) are racists (those who practice racism).

"Racism is a disease of the heart, soul, and mind, and only when it is extirpated from the individual consciousness and replaced with the love and peace of God will true personal and communal healing begin." Liu, et al., "Eracing" Mistakes, November/December 1990, p. 14.


Buzz said...

An aside. You made the big time! I am watching Islam vs. Islamists on PBS.

Guess which side you came down on?
Answer: The clowns.

I wonder you feel sympathy with the rest of the goons supporting radical, political, backwards Islam.

Poor Tarek. By clowning him, you clowned yourself. You are now a documented member of the goon squad.

Tarek did not seem to care or concern himself with your juvenile pic or story.

Do you feel embarassed at all?

DrMaxtor said...

Wow, T-Fat's one and only fan citing a third rate "documentary" which was made by war mongering neocons Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev. You should pat yourself on the back with a fly swatter for being had like such a tool. You are now a certified loon with no clue what you're carping about.
"Islamist" is up there with jihadist and now wahhabist in my book. Totally stupid meaningless word that attempts to Anglicize an Arabic word, advertise it as intellectual and with deep meaning while actually only superficially pretending to bypass the connotations that are invariably associated with it by its religious context. In reality, it's those connotations and the religious context which are being manipulated to put the religion of Islam in new, hateful, bigoted, misrepresented terminology. In case that didn't sink in, read it again, preferable after watching some Sesame Street reruns on PBS.
Get back to me when you find those WMDs, ace.

DrMaxtor said...

You're done buzzed, you only get one shot and you failed miserably. My advice to you is quit sniffing the neocon behind like a rabid proggie poodle in heat. Really, its disgusting, and unbecoming even for a blithering idiot like you. All further droppings from you will be retired to the recycle bin.

PS - Whats hilarious is that the Islamophobes you mentioned praise your neocon "documentary." Guess we can add "moronic hypocrite" to your long list of deficiencies.

Give my best to Daniel Pipes, sycophantic lackey.

Saladin said...

Nice post. It is also crucial to point out that "race prejudice" is different than "racism". To most cultural theorists, racism implies a deep, wide-ranging system of power backing up the irrational prejudice. Thus Black people can be prejudiced toward white people, but not "racist" toward them per se. Non-Muslims (secular capitalists and christians mostly) run the world. Therefore they can be racist against muslims but it doesn't go the other way. Just a footnote...

Steph said...

In the UK the word Muslims is now used by far right groups instead of Paki because Paki would be considered racist and Muslim wouldn't. But they still say these Muslims should go back to their own countries (most British Muslims are British born).

The other racist term that governments and the media use is Muslim community. The Muslim community needs to do this or that, what makes there a distinct Muslim community. They don't talk about the Christian community. Where does this idea come from that we're living in we're separate communities?

I think it's possible to be indirectly racist by making irrational criticism and slanders, one Islamophobe who has criticised me for taking an anti-Islamophobic stance, says that Muhammad raped and murdered. That's not just ignorance, it's being used as a slanders against Islam, and all Muslims for following Islam. That has to be xenophobic if not outright racist because it's not criticism of Muslim beliefs, it's criticism of Muslims as a people based on lies.

Vigilante said...

Unbelievable and unbecoming that you would drop BUZZ's further comments, Doc. On the strength of one comment? Not a good sign for this site. You're entirely entitled to do so, of course. But personally, IMHO, not a wise option.

DrMaxtor said...

Buzzed had his chance, Vigil. This is not a neocon friendly blog, and I intend to keep it that away. He kept repeating the same old tripe in multiple comments despite evidence to the contrary about his little bogus documentary.