Efforts to Link Islam with Violence

  • 23 August 2010

The row over plan to build an Islamic Center and a mosque near the September 11 site in New York and a Florida church’s call to burn the Holy Quran on the day of the attacks is of great significance. Even though nine years have passed since the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the fear of Islamic extremism continues to exist in the minds of many in the West. A distorted image of the religion, particularly with regard to its unfair links with violence, continues to be associated with its followers. President Obama defends the plan to build the Islamic Center and the mosque and sees this as the freedom to practice one’s religion as outlined in his famous speech at Cairo University in June 2009 where he presented a positive view of the US relationship with the Muslim world.

The campaign to burn the Holy Quran was met with very dismissively by several bodies, both political and religious, within the US. This indicates that US officials are making efforts to take on attempts to exacerbate the relationship between the West and Islam and reduce tension between the two sides. What is worrying is that opinion polls point to popular negative attitudes towards Islam in the West, emphasizing that Islamophobia is an essential element of the way the religion is viewed. A poll conducted recently by the CNN indicates that 70 percent of Americans oppose plans to build the Islamic Center and the mosque adjacent to the September 11 site. The poll also revealed that a majority of Europeans support ban on veils in their countries.

Continuous efforts have been made to link Islam with violence – especially in the Western public domain – despite several attempts in the Muslim world to purge Islam of its extremist image. This is of major significance because even though such moves have not paid dividends, anti-social elements see it in their interest to continuously fuel tension between Islam and the West. They have been able to aggravate this tension and constantly feed on the negative stereotypes in the minds of the Western people.