Yesterday, the British parliament debated a proposed definition of Islamophobia, one that would have potential legal ramifications. To the British Muslim writer Ed Husain, the term is itself a flawed one, often employed in such a way as to detract from serious efforts to counter the very real problem of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK. He argues, in a brief submitted to the House of Commons, against adopting the definition:
[B]y officially [recognizing] the offense of “Islamophobia,” we open the door to the worst consequences. The German judge who refused to grant a Muslim woman a divorce from her abusive husband in 2007 did so on the grounds that [his behavior] was culturally acceptable and sanctioned by the Quran. Many more such incidents will become normal for fear of accusations of racism and Islamophobia. . . . As a Muslim, I could be branded an “Islamophobe” and prosecuted, possibly jailed, for questioning interpretations of the Quran that continue to discriminate against women in regard to violence, divorce, custody, or inheritance.
Among the muddled thinking behind the creation of the term “Islamophobia,” writes Husain, is a flawed parallel with anti-Semitism:
[While] anti-Semitism [is] based on untruths and . . . directed against a specific people, Islamophobia is about ideas, beliefs, and attitudes. [Furthermore], the Jewish population in Britain is around 280,000, while the Muslim population is around three million. Jews are not an evangelical or proselytizing community, while an increasingly visible number of Muslim activists in Britain are hell-bent on mass conversions to their brand of hardline Islam. To shield this phenomenon from scrutiny for fear of insult or consequence is to lose the battle of ideas before we even begin.
Anti-Semitism, [moreover], is based on outright fabrications that have haunted Europe for centuries: the historical specter of blood libels, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the lie of Jewish conspiracies. However, the “phobia” of Islam is based on real acts of violence that have been committed and justified in the name of the religion in opposition to the moderate Islam practiced by hundreds of millions around the globe. In 2015, nearly three- quarters of terrorist attacks were perpetrated by the global Islamist movements. . . .