Note: This article discusses digital Islamophobia as well as its impacts on Muslims. Moreover, article discusses about the UN resolution introduced by Pakistan which was adopted unanimously.
In mid-March of 2022, the UN unanimously adopted a consensus resolution introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC to officially declare 15th March as International Anti-Islamophobia Day. This step was taken as part of a wider gesture to unite the international community in defeating religious intolerance and hate attacks upon the Muslim community. Before this declaration, UN reports had already assessed the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment due to mainstream media’s exaggerated depiction of Muslims over the past few decades. Hence 15th March was set to be a unifying reminder to the world where all nations attempt to root out Islamophobia. However official gestures are not enough as it seems Islamophobia has risen significantly in digital media and the core problem has grown beyond expectations.
In a study carried out by Asian Peace, it was found that users from the prime three countries generated 86% of anti-Islam malicious content in the 2017-19 time frame. As a result of the online hateful content being circulated, indoctrinated, and influenced miscreants launched physical attacks upon Muslims and Mosques. The biggest and most prominent examples of this can be observed in India which has transformed into an indoctrinated society with barely any semblance of secularism and democracy as a result of Hindu supremacist RSS and BJP tightening control over state organs. The ruling party BJP is directly responsible for the dissemination and amplification of anti-Muslim hate as aside from public speeches, BJP social media accounts regularly associate Muslims with terrorism or inferiority. As of today, approximately 55.12% of anti-Muslim tweets around the world originate from India.
However, despite the majority of Islamophobic digital content originating from India, such online sentiment is also common in “Developed nations” demonstrating a worrying trend. As per study by the Islamic Council of Victoria, Australia found nearly four million anti-Muslim posts were made during 24 months between 2017 and 2019. Meanwhile, within the US (United States), the proliferation of anti-Muslim hate on Twitter is accelerating. To find out the reason all one needs to do is look up its inseparable relationship with the Muslim immigration ban and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories thrown around during the previous Trump government.
The UK (United Kingdom) is no stranger to Anti Muslim sentiments either, researchers have attributed the prevalence of anti-Muslim tweets from the UK to a multitude of factors including the global reach of Trump’s anti-Muslim animus, anti-immigration sentiments sparked by the refugee crisis, and the discourse surrounding Brexit along with the casual racism of former PM Boris Johnson, who once compared niqab-wearing Muslim women to “letter boxes”.
According to mutual consensus among researchers, there are a few common themes found in all these countries anti-Muslim digital content which was identified as;
Association of Islam with terrorism
Depiction of Muslims as perpetrators of sexual violence
the fear of Sharia implementation on others
Muslim immigrants replacing white in the West and Hindus in India
Declaring “halal” as an inhumane practice
What many fail to realize is all this will have a long-lasting impact if allowed to continue, such as the 2019 Christchurch Mosque attack which is an alarming and illustrative example of this vicious cycle. The gunman was radicalized by anti-Muslim online content, and in the week after he murdered 52 Muslim worshippers, incidents of anti-Muslim abuse spiked upwards by a staggering 1300 % in New Zealand (And Roughly 600 % in the UK)
In recent years Twitter, Google, and Meta have launched special efforts as part of a “shared commitment to counter hateful conduct online” however have failed thus far to crack down on Islamophobic content in any meaningful manner. Twitter has not been able to or did not bother to remove 3759,180 anti-Muslim tweets (posted between Aug 19 and Aug 21). This indicates very little has been done in reality to remove anti-Muslim content from its platform. According to statistics, only 15% of tweets were removed (557,446). A similar situation has been observed in other platforms as well and this inaction is having a devastating impact upon Muslim minority communities throughout the world where microblogging sites such as Twitter are becoming a primary source for the coordinated and uncoordinated proliferation of anti-Muslim propaganda.
If allowed to continue acts of violence against Muslims will likely rise and the world will once again become religiously segregated. The only solution to solving this problem lies in world leaders taking this problem seriously and introducing well planned islamophobic curbing policies (Instead of taking part in spreading hate such as Trump did) which incentivizes digital platforms to strongly enforce the removal of anti-religious content to help soften the divide between different religious communities.