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Fear, Muslims and Islam: reconsidering Islamophobia

Is it politically incorrect to say that one ‘fears’ Muslims? Does it deserve public condemnation? In other words, should have Juan Williams been sacked for his remark about fearing Muslims dressing in ‘Islamic garb’ on planes? Are these instances of Islamophobia?

Let me start with an anecdote which took place in London in the aftermath of the 7/7 attacks. I was waiting for the next tube train with my friend Hakim, a Pakistani born and raised in London who wore clothes considered to be Islamic attire and sported a very long beard. When the train arrived, we were lucky enough to find a seat. At the next stop, another young Pakistani, attired in western clothes and shaved to perfection, entered the train and after freeing himself from a bulky and heavy black backpack, which he positioned in front of him, sat a couple of seats from Hakim. We had a long way to go yet.

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