Most of us have had fears of one kind or another. Some fears are quite rational. If someone threatens you, and you have reason to believe that person will carry out his threat, your fear is rational. Not all fears are rational.
Have you ever been short of breath, shaking, nauseated and lightheaded within elevators, closed rooms or crowded places? Experienced a panic attack in a high-rise building? Do you have an irrational fear of germs? Of strangers or foreigners? Of shadows? Of thunder or lightening? Of spiders? Of public speaking? Afraid of flying?
If you've experienced any of these, you're suffering from a type of irrational fear called a phobia. These are some of the most common phobias. People suffer from literally hundreds of phobias.
A relatively recent irrational phobia that hasn't even appeared on all the lists is Islamophobia - fear of Islam.
Kofi Annan told a UN conference on Islamophobia in 2004:
"When 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."
In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. The term 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 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.
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Many of the distorted impressions come from Zionist propaganda:
Israel’s use of words like disputed territory rather than occupied, redeeming for stealing land, terrorists rather than resistance fighters for Palestinians, anti-Semites for critics of Israel (self-hating Jews if the critics are Jewish).
AIPAC bulletins and lobbying – AIPAC’s only purpose is to ensure American support for Israel. No matter what Israel does, it cannot do any wrong.
AJC newsletters - despite efforts by Jewish organizations to stifle criticism of Israel and objections to Zionism, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Not all Jews are Semites. Most Arabs are.
ZOA - Zionist Organization of America
articles by writers like Daniel Pipes, (who claims an Islamist goal is to take over the United States and replace the Constitution with the Koran).
anti-Arab, anti-black radio broadcasts by Rush Limbaugh and Arab-hater Ann Coulter.
TV influence of Fox News anchors, like Bill O'Reilly, labelling Arabs as anti-Semites and terrorists.
Hollywood films have been vilifying Arabs for more than 50 years.
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