The name of the fear is Islamophobia. The Western world has been suffering from that fear for a long time. They fear a dark, pitch-black religion that seems to offer nothing but violence, irrational hatred, misogyny and primitivism. A religion they call Islam, but that has nothing to do with the real Islam. The Western world filters all of its connections with the Islamic world through that fear first. It always confronts trade and military agreements, security partnerships and future investments through that fear first. And the Western world seems generally unable to overcome that fear, even at the cost of its own interests. The levels of those saying they have ostensibly abandoned religion are 73 per cent in France, 71pc in Great Britain and 66pc in Holland; this situation is preferable to them versus an Islamic country that is both devout and more advantageous in strategic and commercial terms.
The Western world is certainly not unjustified in their fear. The world has seen far too much barbarity as of late perpetrated by those misusing the name of Islam. Radicalism has perhaps shown itself strongest here. It was these radicals, the extremists who were the architects of Islamophobia. The Western world watches the savagery, hatred and lack of decency of the radicals with great alarm, and justifiably so. But there is another place that has suffered even greater harm than the Western world because of the destructive effects of Islamophobia; the Islamic world.
Just as in the Western world, some of the new generation of Muslims imagined that the fundamentalist scheming masquerading itself under the name of Islam was actually the real Islam. They feared that. They failed to understand it was radicalism they feared, and therefore turned away from Islam.
Radical measures have led to oppression in some Islamic countries, even though the commandment of the verse (Quran, 2:256) is that there is no compulsion in the matter of religion. That pressure has led to degeneration in many parts of society.
As well as hatred, rage and ignorance, fundamentalism has also inflicted a lack of quality on many parts of society. Although the radical elements are few in number, they have become the focus of mainstream media interest. The lack of quality they represent has come to be disseminated as the overriding image of Islam. The Western world has encountered a fundamentalist society that attaches no value to itself; thus, they also attached none to it. When they receive a warning that "There is a danger of fundamentalism in such country" they have sent tanks and bombs there or else, as is the case in Syria, totally ignored it. They never even tried dialogue, education and friendship. That is the damage caused by Islamophobia in their minds. But the real harm was done to the Islamic world. Radicals calling themselves Muslims strove mightily to eliminate unity, joy, art, superior moral values, friendship and quality from Islamic countries. Unfortunately, they have to a large extent succeeded.
The Islamic world needs the strength and determination to unite and rid itself of these radical elements. We must be united, and therefore strong, as Allah demands from us in the Quran. Elimination of these radical elements will also mean the elimination of Islamophobia. Once that fear has departed from the Islamic world first and then the Western world, the world will become a place of people who love, instead of hate one another; and when that happens, they will become believers, rather than hating religion.
The harm done by fundamentalism and Islamophobia to the Islamic world can only be erased through the unity of true Muslims.
The writer is a commentator, religious and political analyst on Turkish TV and a peace activist. She writes for several papers and websites in Turkey and abroad. Her FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kocaman.aylin