What is Islamophobia?

Federation Square, Melbourne. Home to some of the most diverse populations in Australia.

Providing a definition of ‘Islamophobia’ is not a straightforward matter because the term has no single, agreed-upon meaning. While the word itself has appeared in a smattering of publications since the early twentieth century, it only entered into common usage in the 1990s, after the publication of the Runnymede Trust’s influential report on Islam in Britain.

The Runnymede Report defined Islamophobia as ‘an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination,’ and included a list of the key components of Islamophobia, including: viewing Islam and Muslims as a monolithic whole, as opposed to being spiritually, culturally and politically diverse; believing that Islam is inferior to the West, and that Muslims by nature are primitive, barbaric and sexist; believing Muslims to be fundamentally predisposed to violence; and understanding Islam foremost as a political ideology as opposed to a genuine religious faith.

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