Topics and Objectives

Islamophobia is commonly defined as the intense or irrational hatred, hostility, and fear of Islam. It perpetuates negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims or Islamic activists from social, political, and civic life. Moreover, it has manifested itself as a form of structural racism that is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations. Islamophobia essentially dehumanizes Muslims and thus rationalizes the use of violence against them as a tool. It reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended. 

This phenomenon may have always existed in varying degrees in many societies, but it has in the last few decades become prevalent around the world, especially in the West after 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. In recent years, many of its aspects have becom  institutionalized through official policies and state structures. In addition, it has been featured in many political campaigns and parties, especially in the U.S. and Europe, causing not only distrust and alienation for significant segments within these societies, but also tension and polarization in many communities around the world. Unfortunately, Islamophobia has unleashed a lucrative industry led by dangerous interest groups with extremist political, social, and economic agendas. If unchecked, it threatens perpetual wars and destruction causing immeasurable pain and suffering. 

This international conference organized by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU) will feature some of the most notable scholars on the subject from Turkey and around the world, and will investigate the impact of Islamophobia on culture, society, politics, and international relations. It will explore its roots from an epistemological and historical perspectives, outlining the political and cultural factors contributing to its rise, its intellectual framework, and the reasons for its pervasiveness. The cultural and social impact of Islamophobia will also be presented including its negative effects on its victims and practitioners. In other sessions, the social cost in terms of the erosion of civil and human rights will be discussed featuring several examples from different regions, as well as the likely long-term political and strategic dimensions around the world. How Islamophobia is used as a tool of foreign policy and empire will also be explored. Several presentations will engage with the notion that the religious affiliation of Islamophobia is not material to its manifestation by exploring the role of “Muslim” Islamophobes who are as dangerous and destructive as any other religious or ideological affiliation. Finally, a discussion featuring all the participants will be devoted to strategies and policies that need to be adopted and pursued to end or reduce the harmful and detrimental effects of Islamophobia.