The World Cup and the Question of Islam

Every country and culture ascribes itself to a particular core value set, which in a sense, defines it. For instance, the British government defined its values as ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

The emphasis on individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance is also seen in the US and many of the European countries. However, it seems this tolerance falls short when it comes to the Muslim community. They are sticklers for tolerance but turn into Machiavellians (whereby ends justify the means) when Islam is merely discussed. This intolerance is significant as Islam is the second largest religion in Europe and Britain and spreading relatively quickly in the USA. This short article will try to touch on the significant points in relation to this phenomenon (islamophobia).

Islamophobia seems more pronounced in countries that see themselves as a result of the Judeo-Christian tradition (European countries and the US); that is, they see themselves as the product of this religious inheritance with its implicit democratic ideals. This term which came about to eliminate discrimination against the Jews, as the respected journalist Peter Oborne stated ironically, became that which excludes Islam, the second largest religion in Europe and the world. The production of Islam as the other, the enemy, the foreigner, the existential threat, etc, has become an image that is produced in the media every time anything remotely connected to Islam occurs.

The inconsistency in European and American value judgments of Islam is evident in multiple ways. For instance, al Qaeda and the Islamic state are often seen as a product of the core teaching of Islam even if most Islamic scholars have renounced such activities as suicide techniques, killing of civilians and destruction of the environment contradict Islamic teaching. Furthermore, most respected analysts hold the US responsible for destroying the organic institutions of society and allowing such terror to flourish during the Iraq invasion, which has now become apparent to have been initiated on false pretence. Yet when the USA or European countries commit horrendous acts such as colonialism (British settlement alone killed 100 million Indians), Hiroshima, targeting countries that do not follow their designated dictators: Cuba and Venezuela, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Iran, eastern Congo (million dead), it is seen as just an inconsistency of liberal states. Anything atrocious that occurs and is connected to Islam is seen as an integral part of it, and a problem within its teaching, whilst anything negative about Europe or the US is just a mere anomaly, if they even admit that it was unjustifiable.

The Qatar world cup is reported as the most family and women-friendly world cup due to the lack of alcohol and conservative values, but mainstream media completely ignored such reports and decided to focus all their attention on labour abuses. “The fact of the matter is that migrant workers in the U.S. are struggling with many of the same issues those workers were facing in Qatar,” said Julie Taylor, executive director of the National Farm Worker Ministry, headquartered in North Carolina. Not to mention, western companies outsourced labour in sweatshops and whatnot. The European countries and the US seem biased and inconsistent in their value judgment, ignoring some of the same issues found in non-Muslim countries. 

To conclude, the west seems to have grown to be a stickler nation preaching for democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and ironically will do anything to subjugate the other into twisted forms of these ideals even if it means going against their own set values.