There are many phobias. A glance at Wikipedia shows quite a lot. I would have counted them, but I suffer from Numerophobia, the fear of numbers.
Some of the phobias listed are understandable. Vehophobia, the fear of driving, will be familiar to many Israeli readers. Some are rather strange like Venustraphobia, the fear of beautiful women. And, definitely applicable to this Blog writer, Gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at.
While most phobias, like Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, are perfectly rational fears, many, like Xanthophobia, the fear of the color yellow, are totally irrational.
Most of these phobias have been around for a long time. But we have a relatively new addition to the list, Islamophobia. The term seems to have come into being in 1991 in a report by Runnymede that defined it as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.”
Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. Their website describes their purpose as “working to build a Britain in which all citizens and communities feel valued, enjoy equal opportunities, lead fulfilling lives, and share a common sense of belonging”. A worthy goal indeed.
Islamophobia is not a natural fear. It is learned from society and from bitter experience. Unlike Algophobia, the fear of pain, no-one is naturally afraid of Muslims and Islam. We now see that Runnymede’s definition of their newly created Islamophobia needs to be changed. Hostility towards Islam is not “unfounded”.
Interestingly, there is no equivalent phobia for Jews. There is no Jewphobia or Semiticophobia. There is, of course, Anti-Semitism with plenty of hate for Jews, but there is no fear of Jews.
For an explanation we need look no further than Wikipedia’s List of Islamist Terrorist Attacks. There have been no less than 283 ‘incidents’ in the period from November 1979 to April 2019. Islamist extremists have carried out terrorist attacks intended to further their warped ideas of Islam, to force Islam on a disinterested population. These horrific attacks have included arson, bombings, suicide attacks, random shootings, stabbings, hijackings, kidnappings, beheadings and driving vehicles into crowded pedestrian walkways.
So, while hatred of Muslims or Islam has no place in the world, we can see that fear of Islam – Islamophobia, or rather the fear of those adherents who twist Islam’s message, is not an unreasonable reaction to the many atrocities carried out in Islam’s name.
I look forward to a time when Runnymede announces that Islamophobia can be taken off the list of phobias as there is no longer a need to fear Islam.
For more on Islamophobia visit: