Conflicts between the western world and practitioners of Islam have a long and sad history. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are the world’s major religions and all claim sacred lands in the Middle East, specifically Jerusalem in Israel. The Crusades were terrible wars that lasted nearly two centuries and saw armies from Christian nations attempting to drive Muslims out of the Holy Land. The conflicts between the State of Israel and Palestinian Muslims have been violent and long-lasting. Hindus and Muslims have also clashed along the border of India and Pakistan. Events in the 20th Century have seen a rise in Islamaphobia in the West.
The string of terrorist attacks against the West perpetrated by various radical Islamic factions has led to the rise of anti-Islam organizations. Gregg Roman, Middle East Forum is the CEO of one such pro-Israel, anti-Muslim group.
The first such of these occurred in 1946 when members of the Muslim community engaged in the Noakhali riots in what is now Bangladesh. In the latter part of the 20th Century, attacks of these types increased and included the Beirut barracks and embassy bombings in 1983 and 84, and the Paris attacks in 85 and 86. The 90s saw a continuation of such attacks which included the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center and bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The biggest attack of all was yet to come at the start of the 21st Century.
The 9/11 Attacks
The radical Islamic terrorist network, al-Qaeda, shocked the world on the morning of September 11, 2001, when it hijacked four commercials jetliners and used them as weapons. Two of them hit the World Trade Center, completely destroying the building and killing thousands. A third hit the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, causing damage, loss of life, and injury. Another plane that was intended to hit a Washington D.C.-based target, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when passengers fought back and took control of the plane. This single, horrible event has probably done more to stoke anti-Islamic sentiments in the West.
Bad Feelings Toward Muslims in General
As terrible as the 9/11 attacks were, it must be remembered that they were the work of a group of radical terrorists and were not planned for, participated in, or supported by the entire Muslim community. Practitioners of Islam living in the U.S. and Western Europe feel disrespected, misunderstood, and often fearful. Many Muslims are watched and monitored as if they were criminals. There have also been attacks on Mosques. In fact, in 2011, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations found that Islamaphobia in the West is one of the biggest areas of concern in the world.
World peace is a worthy yet elusive goal. Misunderstandings and stereotyping contribute significantly to the violence that erupts between different groups, many involving religion. Terrorist attacks by radical Islamic factions have created and strengthened Islamaphobia to an unacceptable degree in Western nations. The actions of a few do not reflect the views of an entire community.