It's a word rarely uttered a decade ago. "Islamophobia" now is invoked to condemn prosecutions of alleged terror financiers and any manner of dispute between Muslims and government agencies or employers.
The idea seems to be to deflect attention from an issue or to equate discrimination against Muslims with racism and anti-Semitism. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) representing 57 Muslim nations, hopes to pass a resolution criminalizing perceived insults against Islam during next month's United Nations Conference on Racism in Geneva. Western states, including the U.S., Canada and Italy have decided to stay away.
Klaus Faber, a lawyer and former German state secretary, writes that accusations of Islamophobia criticism of Islam or Shariah law. In a column published by the Jerusalem Post, he quotes OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's alarming claim that "Islamophobia is reaching the level of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s."
Faber dismisses the claim as ridiculous, succinctly drawing a distinction between the two:
"Nobody wants to exterminate all Muslims or wipe out an Islamic country. Nobody blames all Muslims for every evil in the world. Just looking at what is written and published about Israel and Jews by Muslim institutions and in many Islamic countries highlights this fundamental difference. In Germany, this means police have to protect Jewish kindergardens [sic], schools, institutions and synagogues around the clock. In contrast, anti-Islamic terrorism is virtually non-existent in Europe."
Faber is a member of the Coordinating Council of German NGOs against Anti-Semitism. His comments stem from a recent debate in Germany over comparisons between hostility toward Muslims and toward Jews:
"There is anti-Muslim discrimination in Germany, and we need to combat it together with progressive Muslims, since a large majority of German Muslims favor democratic values and integration. But reactionary or conservative Muslim organizations are not suitable allies in the fight against anti-Semitism."
Efforts to equate Islamophobia with anti-Semitism are harmful, he said, not only because they fail to distinguish between false Jewish conspiracy theories with genuine acts of terrorism by Islamists, but they also obscure the rabid anti-Semitism flowering among OIC member nations.