Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Historical and contemporary connections and parallels

Authored by: Ivan Kalmar , Tariq Ramadan

The Routledge Handbook of Muslim–Jewish Relations

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415645164
eBook ISBN: 9781315675787
Adobe ISBN: 9781317383215


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Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are not simply two forms of hatred among many. They are founded in a specific history of intolerance with deep roots in Christian theology as well as long-standing geopolitical rivalries. The imagined “Jewish God” Jehovah and the imagined “Muslim God” Allah have many characteristics in common as a deity of authority and an uncompromising law, in opposition to the Christian God incarnated in Jesus to bring a message of love. This existential opposition between authority and love was in the nineteenth century ascribed to the racial characteristics of populations that had been categorized previously on the basis of religion. The reclassification of the Jews as a “race” was matched by a racialization, if vague and “incorrect,” of Muslims as Arabs. Being the enemy inside and outside the West, Jews and Arabs were each accused of double loyalty. This double loyalty is expressed, allegedly, through double talk – saying one thing to their “hosts” and another to their own people. The most interesting comparison between the two hatreds is asynchronous: between Islamophobia since the late twentieth century and anti-Semitism about a hundred years earlier. In both cases, the relevant context, even if radically different, is on the one hand Western imperialism and on the other immigration.

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