The Digital Impact on Islamophobia: an overview

Hello World, you seem to have stumbled across my blog. This is the place where I’ll be exploring the digital impact on the issue of Islamophobia in British society. This is becoming a prevalent issue, and I’ll analyse how technology is both diffusing and heightening this fear of Islam.

ISLAMOPHOBIA 

Firstly, to understand the digital impact on Islamophobia, we need to get to grips with Islamophobia itself.  Because the term has been only around for little over 20 years, its meaning is a little ambiguous.
So… what is it? Simply put, it is the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims. The APPG on British Muslims put forward the first working definition of the word Islamophobia as recently as November 2018,
“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

SCALE OF ISSUE


With these definitions to guide us, we can start to observe society and see where the issue of Islamophobia lies. It doesn’t take too long to start seeing the national scale of this issue.
Notions of ‘Keeping Britain British’ were paramount for large pockets of Brexit voters, and as a result, there is a clear growing aggression towards Muslims. 

It is hard to pin-point the exact sources of this outlook, but it is irrefutable that self-proclaimed ‘Muslim’ terrorist groups are fundamental to Islamophobia.
Metro recently published that,

DIGITAL IMPACT

Negative Impact
The media can also be blamed for this in a skewing representation of these attacks. Media coverage is partly responsible for the ways in which Islam – a religion of Peace – is becoming synonymous with terrorist, criminal, and villain.

Social media has highlighted this growing issue in society. Groups with far-right political views, namely the EDL – English Defence League, receive a large amount of exposure and interaction.
A lot of this interaction is support for their radical views regarding deportation and Islam.
To illustrate this support, co-founder and former leader of the EDL Tommy Robinson has just shy of one million likes on Facebook; the official Conservative party has just 651K.

Supporters of Robinson were particularly vocal in a campaign largely orchestrated over social media. They used the hashtag ‘#FREETOMMY’ to promote their discontent at his arrest.

Protester holding up a #FREETOMMY sign

Moreover, terrorist organisations thrive for an Islamophobic Western World. Extremist propaganda messages are supported by instilling this fear. A common notion of extremism is that the West want to rid of Islam, and far-right groups like the EDL appear to verify this.

Positive Impact
However, social media and technology can also reduce people’s Islamophobic views. There’s an equal amount of content online that highlight the fact that barbaric terrorists cannot and do not represent an entire religion.

Similarly to Robinson’s supporters, social media was utilised by people that oppose him. The result was a protest that disregarded groups, such as Robinson’s EDL, that cause division.

Protesters opposing Tommy Robinson, branding him racist.
This shows that as much as the digital age can accelerate Islamophobia, it also appears to have the potential to stop it.

Over a series of posts and Tweets (follow my account) I’ll be looking at each side of this debate in depth, and also share my own views along the way. I will bring attention to the ways in which technology has directly impacted on Islamophobia in Britain.