For the last few days, I was trying to parse the discussion on my Instagram about "BJP Voters and Islamophobia" and one of the things that caught my attention was how we use the word Islamophobe, especially on social media.
This led me to wonder if we can create a spectrum or scale of this Anti-Muslim Prejudice. I found a few parallels from Anti-Semitism and here is my attempt to fit one such article into the Indian context.
The term "Islamophobe" is used as a catchall for a huge section of people with varying degrees of intent, behaviour and politics. Identifying those degrees can help us handle them efficiently.
Here are the five degrees of Islamophobia-
This is easy to identify. These people or groups want to actively hurt Muslims. Their behaviour, thoughts and actions are with an intent to harm. They will rob, beat, lynch with a premeditated thought. They are not ashamed of their behaviour and try to justify it.
These are your politicians, vigilantes, journalists, celebrities who will actively call out for laws, policies and armed actions on Muslims.
They are usually organised and systematic in their behaviour.
This group lacks the active violence and premeditation of the Nazi but actively supports them.
They'll fund the Nazis, will threaten Muslims, will applaud anti-Muslim activities, will distribute communication to justify the Nazis.
They are usually unorganised.
This group is not violent and there is no pattern of hateful expressions from them. But they hold animosity and their expression is situational.
For example, they will justify state action in Kashmir, will believe any news that puts Muslims in a negative light. They will be open to mock Islam. They will engage in heavy whataboutery when questioned about their prejudice. Overall, they don't want to harm but are open to defame Muslims.
They will also be open to protect or help familiar Muslims in case of violence.
This group holds mixed feelings about Muslims and Islam. They like a particular version of Islam but dislike another.
They will have friends, love interests, employees who are Muslims but will have a type.
They will often say things like "My kind of Muslim..", "I love Kalam but...".
They will be open to some aspects of Muslim/Islamic culture but not to others. They will feel uncomfortable in the heavy presence of Muslim symbols but will be ok with a light presence. Overall, they don't want to hurt nor defame Muslims. They will however in a private company(which might include their Muslim friends) be OK with saying negative things.
This group is not hateful but holds stereotypes. And, are aware that they are just stereotypes. They will have slip-ups where they will say things that are negative about Islam but will immediately realise their mistake and correct/apologize.
This group is also often ignorant about Muslim culture. They try to understand it via movies, stories and their own lenses. They also hold Islam positive views. These are the least harmful of all the prejudiced folks.
How can we respond to them?
Thumb Rule: Always respond to Anti-Muslim remarks. Regardless of what degree they come from. Not doing that increases social tolerance.
But the intensity of response has to change for each. The Nazis and the Hostiles can't be argued upon.
Do call them out, but don't expect any improvement. They can only be handled using legal and civic systems.
The other 3 can be corrected. But the intensity has to be in accordance with the behaviour.
Consistent high-intensity responses will only end up diluting the credibility of accusations.
Labelling all of them as Nazis will also make it a natural and expected behaviour from the prejudiced majority.
This will only amplify the least guilty and diminish the most dangerous.
Disclaimer: These are based on my personal understanding and basic reading, not any academic opinion. The goal is to start this conversation rather than share conclusions. Hope to see this blog getting better with your inputs.