Islamophobia Plus Foreign Policy Equals Ethical and Economic Catastrophe
By Aleksei Kaminski
In the words of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “Islamophobia” is catalyzing terrorism. With the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, individualized xenophobia has seeped its transparent viscosity into international institutions, especially into foreign policy. This is exemplified by several momentous events that took place across the Western world in the past year, in places ranging from the United Kingdom to France to the United States: the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, Marine Le Pen of the National Front gaining popular support in France, and endless executive orders under the 45th President of the United States--Donald Trump.
While all of these events have sparked a new wave of countering terrorism against “radical Muslims,” they in fact have and continue to perpetuate fear, hatred, and ignorance against Islam, Muslims, and the Arabic world at a societal level in the West. With xenophobia and its derivative Islamophobia seeping into foreign policy, it has begun to silently destroy the global economy and deeply affect the lives of all Muslims regardless of nationality, race, and gender.
As a matter of fact, retired General of the United States Army Wesley Clark stated six of the seven listed countries under President Trump’s ban were to be invaded and more so, destroyed during the second term of President Bush’s administration. Even before Islamophobic motives and notions passed into foreign affairs, the French government in 2011 signed a law banning the covering of the face, which led Muslim women who wear the Burqa and Niqab to be subject to legal discrimination in France until now. Now that Islamophobia has made its way into American foreign policy, President Trump’s immigration ban on citizens from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will in fact create a reputation for the United States to become an unreliable place to do business in and with until 2021. Such potential situations may and will include: rising import fees on U.S. goods, foreign governments denying entry to U.S. citizens, and foreign nationals boycotting the goods and services from U.S. companies.
While many share stances that are pro-immigration and against the immigration bans and xenophobia, in the eyes of Marine Le Pen, the British Parliament, and President Trump, such a popular opinion has implicitly allowed ethnic and religious discrimination to become societal norms. Although ethnic and religious discrimination are declared illegal by law, they are considered legal to due to passivity and racist representation in the American, French, and British government.
Since Brexit won the popular vote for United Kingdom in June 2016, the rates of hate crime incidents in the United Kingdom from 2015 till now have risen by 326%, 61% of victims being women and 75% of them identified as Muslims. From an economic perspective, it is quite interesting to observe that President Trump left out three major Muslim-majority countries that have high records of terrorist output and suspects, namely Saudi Arabia and other economic hegemons, including Jordan and Egypt. Not only were such incentives on immigration and refugee policy just Islamophobic, they were also pragmatic in the special business interests of world leaders, such as Trump’s administration. Knowledge@Wharton claims that it will be much harder for certain international students to seek a higher education in the United States, as well as for companies, such as Starbucks unable to hire and help 10,000 refugees by 2022. From the global scale, HSBC, one of the largest international banks, profits fell by 82% over the course of 2016 after the Brexit Referendum.
What will happen in France, the UK, and across the Western world? Will more governments in Western Europe and North America adopt policies to discriminate Muslims? In Marine Le Pen’s words: “Today, we can see that immigration has become favorable terrain for the development of Islamism.” From the National Front, immigration equals Muslim dominance which “equals” terrorism. This illustrates that any individual who scapegoats can progressively build a popular opinion as means to consequently legitimize hate and discrimination both individually and systemically. In the best interests of this world, both economically and most importantly, ethically, we must fight any level of preconceived notions of prejudice barring towards religion, race, and ethnicity. As of 2017, Islamophobia must be deterred from foreign policy before even what may worse happen--an apocalyptic world and leviathan institution fueled by racism, and xenophobia.