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Definitions of the term "Islamophobia"

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"Islamophobia" has many shades of meaning and includes many forms of negative reactions towards Islam and Muslims.

We define "Islamophobia" as

"Fear and/or hatred of Muslims, or of the religion of Islam, and/or a desire to limit the civil liberties of Muslims.

This word corresponds to sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia in areas related to gender, race, sexual orientation and nationality. It corresponds to anti-semitism and Christianophobia in areas related to Judaism and Christianity.

It is often exhibited by a person attributing the actions of a few extreme, violent, fundamentalist Muslim terrorists to the entire population of Muslims or to the religion of Islam."

Similar definitions can be written to refer to:

  • Christianophobia (a.k.a. Christophobia) -- negative reaction towards Christiaity and Christians; 1

  • Anti-semitism 2 -- negative reaction toward Judaism and Jews;

  • Homophobia -- negative reactions towards homosexuality and lesbians, gays and bisexuals;

  • Transphobia -- negative reactions towads transgender persons and transsexuals; or

  • Against any other identified group, whether the distinction is based on race, skin color, disability, religion, gender, nationality, language, etc.

Some people seem to need to hate others in order to increase their own feelings of self-worth. Others seem to have a need to divide humanity into two groups: those like themselves, who are good, and "the others," who are evil or at least suspect.

A Google search for definitions using the search string: define: islamophobia returned six definitions. Note that some definitions refer to beliefs, while others refer to attitudes and actions:

  • Prejudice against Muslims." at

  • "Islamophobia is prejudice or discrimination against Islam or Muslims. The term seems to date back to the late 1980s, but came into common usage after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States." at:

  • "The fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims," at:

  • "Fear of Muslims, hatred of Muslims, or a desire to limit the civil liberties of Muslims. This word corresponds to sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia in areas related to gender, race, sexual orientation and nationality." at:

  • "Fear or dislike of Muslims or Islamic culture," at:

  • "The expression of hatred, negative stereotypes or racist acts towards individual Muslims or followers of the Islamic faith." at:

Where does valid critism of Islam end and Islamophobia start:

That is an important question with no clear answer:


  1. A Google search on 2010-SEP-09 found about 100,000 hits for "Christianophobia" and 32,000 for "Christophobia." We will use the former term because it is more popular and because "Christophobia" could be interpreted as meaning the fear or loathing of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ).
  2. The correct capitalization is most often "anti-Semitism." However, since the term "semite" refers to a language and not a people or a religion, we write the term in lower case on this website.

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Copyright 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2010-SEP-09
Author: B. A. Robinson

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