Islamophobia is generally considered to be a hatred or prejudice toward Islam and/or Muslims, especially as a political force.
View from the Left
People with political views on the left typically use the term Islamophobia to describe racism, hatred, or discrimination against Muslims or those practicing Islam.
The left tends to look at Islamophobia as a serious societal ill and would argue it is a clear form of bigotry and a driving factor behind the dehumanization of Muslims, particularly Arab Muslims. Those on the left point to negative mental health effects that come along with Islamophobia and argue legislative action such as the “Combating International Islamophobia Act” is needed to help protect people from hate. Many on the left accuse the right of fueling this issue, with some going so far as to classify the right as an “Islamophobia industry.”
Some argue that Islamophobia is especially common in the West where people tend to have less knowledge about the beliefs of Islam. In America, some see policies such as the Patriot Act implemented post-9/11 as a major driver of Islamophobia because some of the security policies specifically targeted those coming from Muslim-majority countries.
Those on the left claim that discrimination towards Islam is in the same vein as discrimination or hatred based on other identity factors, such as race, sexual orientation, gender, or socio-economic status. They argue Islamophobia has been around since 610 C.E., with some posing Islamophobia as a main driver in Columbus’ voyage to the New World.
View from the Right
Those on the right tend to think about the term Islamophobia much differently, arguing it is a neologism used to “stigmatize ordinary political thought and intimidate people into silence.”
Many on the right tend to argue that there are reasons to be fearful of the impact of Islam and that one can be skeptical of a worldview or religion without hating its adherents. They argue it is natural to be fearful of terrorism, and therefore there is every reason to be critical of those who may be connected to the ideologies or religions that drive it. They argue that various Islamic groups on the extremes embrace the concept of jihad, or a religious war against infidels or Mohammedan heretics, and that it is right to be fearful of the impact of such beliefs on society and Western nations. Some on the right say the term Islamophobia serves only to “make normal human reactions to terror seem crazy or bigoted” and is a “cynically potent neologism designed to equate conservatism with mental illness.”
Some on the right argue the left unfairly links Islamophobia and antisemitism. They argue that “the goal is to treat response to antisemitism as a form of Islamophobia,” in essence acting as a silencing tactic.
Not everyone on the right dismisses the term Islamophobia, however, with some recognizing it as a form of religious oppression that needs to be dealt with.