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If there is a backlash against British Muslims, where is the evidence for it? Scaremongering about Islamophobia promotes a Muslim victim culture and allows some community leaders to inflame a sense of injury while suppressing internal debate. The new religious hatred law will make matters worse.
But does Islamophobia exist? The trouble with the idea is that it confuses hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims on the one hand with criticism of Islam on the other. The charge of "Islamophobia" is all too often used not to highlight racism but to silence critics of Islam, or even Muslims fighting for reform of their communities.
The irony of this approach is that it undermines what is valuable about living in a diverse society. Diversity is important, not in itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare different values, beliefs and lifestyles, and make judgements upon them. In other words, it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help to create more universal values and beliefs, and a collective language of citizenship. But it is just such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgements, that contemporary multiculturalism attempts to suppress in the name of "tolerance" and "respect."
For Muslim leaders, inflating the threat of Islamophobia helps consolidate their power base, both within their own communities and wider society. ... Exaggerating anti-Muslim prejudice is also useful for mainstream politicians...