Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that a number of people in the Islamic world are kicking off and killing people about something utterly trivial. Again. If you do need to catch up, though, there's a decent tl;dr here.
However, at this point you could be forgiven for not being terribly interested in what's set the nutters off this time (although you should definitely care about their actions, which have already left many dead. Again.). I mean, you can guess. Someone spoke or wrote or drew (or in this case made a film, as it happens) about their "prophet" Mohammed and so they're screaming blasphemy and demanding retribution. Again. Because they absurdly think their damn silly superstitious rules apply not only to them but to everybody else. Again. And their response has been crazily, loonily, insanely disproportionate.
If there is any good that can come out of this whole depressing mess, it's that the Muslims who're doing it - and I accept they're a minority, by the way - are hurting their own cause when they do this stuff, in the long run at least.
Because they're making Muslims look like lunatics. They're showing Islam up for the oppressive, paranoid, violent ideology it is. They're showing the world that Islam cares more about some obscure film than it does about murder, injustice, torture, abuse, oppression, mutilation, inequity and violence. They're demonstrating again that Islam cares more that we should all feign respect for their "prophet" than it does for innocent human life.
And you don't get away from that, by the way, with "oh but Islam isn't really about that". Bull. Shit. Christians have been making the NoTrueChristianTM argument for centuries, and it doesn't wash for them either. If you believe in the "truth" of a given book - and if you consider that belief a virtuous thing - you don't get to object when someone else takes those same lessons from that same book and uses them to justify murdering somebody. Know why? Because they have precisely the same amount of evidence to say that their beliefs are correct as you do to say yours are - that is, none. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Zilch. (That goes for arguments between religions too, by the way; someone who believes for no rational reason that Book X is magic hasn't a moral or logical leg to stand on when someone else believes the same about Book Y and acts on that - but that's maybe a point for another day.)
I can virtually guarantee that at least some people who read this - Muslim or otherwise - will by now have dismissed me as "Islamophobic", or even racist. But I have a couple of points to make about those two accusations (because it's not the first time they've been aimed at me).
"Racist", first, because that's the most transparently nonsensical thing to call someone who dislikes Islam. The only way in which an aversion to a religion could be taken to mean an aversion to a "race" of people would be if one had to belong to a certain race in order to be a Muslim. Not only is that demonstrably not the case, but even if it were true it would make Islam racist, not me.
And "Islamophobic", which brings me back to the title of this entry.
I am sick. To goddamn. Death. Of this mealy-mouthed, snivelling, craven, manipulative, lying little gobshite of a word that's wormed its way into our lexicon.
Look up "phobia" in any decent dictionary. There are lots of variations on a theme, but you'll notice there is a commonality; they all describe a "phobia" as irrational, illogical, disproportionate to the danger, unreasonable. My chest-constricting, panic-inducing, uncontrollable fear of injections is all of those things - it is a phobia. My fear and dislike of Islam is not irrational, or illogical, or unreasonable - and it certainly is not disproportionate to the danger it poses. Just ask the families of all the people it's killed.
We know what happens when Islam is allowed to rule, we've watched it for centuries; education and reason are set at naught, women become property, people can be murdered at whim in the name of "honour", genocide can be justified by reference to the magic book. And to draw the "prophet" Mohammed becomes the greatest of all wrongs, an insult that can justify murder. There are factions within Islam that openly wish to destroy Western ideals and take over. One of the most common taunts I hear from Muslims when discussing religion online is along the lines of "watch out Europe, you'll fall to Islam in the next 10/20/50 years".
So yes, you're damn right I'm scared of Islam, as well as considering it ethically loathsome, factually laughable and worthy of no respect whatsoever (that last point is crucial - I am scared of Islam, but I do not respect it. Do not mistake the two). I consider freedom of expression to be the most important right we have, and we in the West have fought hard to get it. I am scared of any ideology that threatens this freedom. Is that irrational, when we know through centuries of bitter experience what happens when we don't have that freedom? I don't think so. I consider that a perfectly rational dread, which by definition means it is not a phobia. So please can we drop the ridiculous, knee-jerk label? All it does is reinforce the notion that those of us who watch Islam with fear are unreasonable in that fear or in our expression of it. We're not; we're precisely the opposite.