Islamophobia International conference this weekend
By IDS Reports | IDS Mar. 28, 2013
Discrimination against Muslims has become more prevalent nationwide since the Sept. 11 attacks. This will be just one topic of discussion Friday and Saturday at the “Islam, Politics and Islamophobia” conference.
The international conference, one of the Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair Conferences, will take place at the Indiana Memorial Union Faculty Club room 250 on Friday and Persimmion Room on Saturday. The conference is organized by IU Professor Kemal Silay and Tugrul Keskin of Portland State University. It will be open to the public, but registration is required at the IMU.
It will cover an array of topics pertaining to Islam and western culture. Each topic will be presented by scholars from universities. Silay said the inspiration behind the conference was the unfair generalization of those who practice Islam.
“Only a fraction of the 1.5 billion Muslims of the world have been involved in violence and/or radical Islamism,” Silay said. “Yet a great number of these innocent people have been discriminated against and harassed on a daily basis.”
Silay said Muslims in all strata of society face negative attention from both the public and the government, often resulting in discriminatory practices.
“These practices, born of stereotypical descriptions and definitions of “Islam” and “Muslims,” are connotative of the level of fear and hatred in many parts of the world when topics concerning this religion and its adherents arise,” he said.
Consequently, many of the topics covered in the conference will have to do with “Islamophobia.”
“Islamophobia is a form of prejudice against Muslims,” Silay said. “With racist and fascist overtones, it often manifests itself as an irrational fear of Muslims.”
He also made the distinction between Islam and Islamism. Islamism is radically politicized and often violent, while Islam is simply the religion.
“Islamism, especially militant Islamism, is not the same as Islam,” Silay said. “Most ordinary Muslims are afraid of Islamism, as well.”
Silay said this conference is different than others in that it does not attempt to justify the global operations of militant Islam.
“This conference examines the intersections between Islam, political Islam, Islamophobia and human rights,” he said.
— Sarah Zinn