This post isn't about religion per se. It's about bigotry, hence my opening statement. Having seen a few tweets on the subject of racism, Islamophobia and general assholery, I was inspired to lay down my thoughts on the subject.
I see, time and again, people who are critical of Islam or Muslims being labelled as racist. And it irritates me. Islam, as with all religions should be criticised.. Its claims and morals should be held up to scrutiny. As should every religion and it's belief structure. Criticism of Muslims, however, is a different kettle of fish.
In the most simplistic terms, hatred of Muslims is categorically not racism. Something you can convert to, or, as per Islamic beliefs, revert to, is, by definition, not a race. Race is determined by genetics.
When I look at far groups such as English Defence League, I see a bunch of knuckle-dragging, bigoted racists. When I look at Britain First, I see exactly the same, in smart suits. They are prejudiced against Muslims, and it is DRIVEN by racism. I think it's a safe bet that the vast majority of people who hate Muslims ARE racist. It is perfectly possible, however, that some of the people who hate Muslims do so solely on the basis of their religious beliefs, rather than the colour of their skin. Let's not forget, there are a small, but growing, number of white Muslims. Would a far right, white individual who hates a white Muslim be guilty of being a racist? Of course not! Similarly, and quite recently, there has been an incident with a black person verbally abusing a black Muslim. Again, would we consider this as racism? Not if you have a rational mind. That doesn't excuse or diminish this sort of bigotry.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending any of these clowns. A bigot is a bigot, regardless of whether their views are formed on the basis of race, religion, sexuality or gender. They are all as bad as each other. But to apply blanket labels such as "racist" is wrong, and diminishes true racism. This is one of the reasons I find terms like "Islamophobia" somewhat disingenuous. A phobia is a an irrational fear, and whilst there are, undoubtedly, some who genuinely do fear Muslims, "phobia" rather diminishes the bigotry behind the hatred. The same is true of homophobia. These are terms we have come to accept and understand, but that doesn't mean they are apposite. Let's call both what they really are; not phobias, but pig-ignorant bigotry and prejudice.
The media does little to unite people of different races OR faiths. When an atrocity is committed in the name of Islam, people always, without fail, ask where the moderate Muslims are, condemning their actions. And the answer can be found on social media, where the vast majority are literally screaming down the actions. Right wing media seldom gives them a voice, as it doesn't fit with their narrative.
So, how DO you solve a problem like a Muslim? Simple, really. You don't. If you think Muslims are a "problem", it's YOU that needs solving. The vast majority of Muslims are decent, kind, honest people. And whether driven by race or religion, hatred of them is bigotry. Pure and simple.