Prejudice and bigotry against Muslims certainly exist, but, writes Jeffrey Tayler, the term “Islamophobia” both obscures Islamic realities and serves as a cudgel to silence discussion about Islam itself. Indeed, those who decry “Islamophobia” often direct their ire at reformers who are themselves Muslim:
Those who deploy the . . . term “Islamophobia” to silence critics of the faith hold, in essence, that Muslims deserve to be approached as a race apart—not as equals, not as individual adults capable of rational choice, but as lifelong members of an immutable, sacrosanct community, whose (often highly illiberal) views must not be questioned, whose traditions (including the veiling of women) must not be challenged, and whose scripturally inspired violence must be explained away as the inevitable outcome of Western “interventionism” in the Middle East or racism and “marginalization” in Western countries.
Fail to exhibit due respect for Islam—not Muslims as people, Islam—and you risk being excoriated, by certain progressives, as an “Islamophobe,” as a fomenter of hatred for an underprivileged minority . . . and, most illogically, as a racist. Islam, however, is not a race, but a religion. . . .
No better evidence of this strain of illogical, muddled intolerance of free expression exists than the suspicion and ire that regressive leftists reserve for former Muslims and Muslim reformers working to modernize their religion. In a moving 2015 . . . address, Sarah Haider, who is of Pakistani origin, recounts being called everything from “Jim Crow” to “House Arab” to native informant by American liberals for having abandoned Islam—by, that is, the very folk who should support women, regardless of their skin color, in their struggle for equality and freedom from sexist violence and chauvinism.