Islamophobia: A Christian Psychiatrist’s Perspective
“Muslims are like canaries in the coal mine. We may be the first to feel it, but the toxic air of fear is harming us all” (Dalia Mogahed). Many Christians in the USA seem to harbor an irrational and harmful fear of Muslims. Historical reasons include tensions and mistrust heightened by the Crusades, 9/11, and ongoing wars in the Middle East that followed. A range of interpretation (and misinterpretation) of theology and practice within Islam, as well as the threat of radicalization, make it difficult for many Christians to distinguish Islamic core beliefs from politically driven positions. And a frequent lack of familiarity with the spectrum of people who follow Islam contributes to misunderstanding, providing fertile ground for the process of scapegoating. People who follow the teachings of Christianity can respond helpfully by examining their biases and assumptions, by informing themselves and getting to know Muslims around them, by obeying their mandate to forgive rather than punish, and by celebrating what they share with Muslims, including respect for the insights and example of Jesus and the adoration and reverence they have for his mother Mary. Clinicians need to appreciate the clinical impact of Islamophobia and the corresponding fear that Muslims may have of them as Christians.
KeywordsIslam Islamophobia Muslim Christians Scapegoating
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