Essay about Islamophobia

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Essay about Islamophobia

Essay about Islamophobia: Introduction

Islamophobia is the fear, hatred, or prejudice against Muslims or the religion of Islam generally. It has been around ever since the 1500s and still is, maybe even more, present at our time. After the fall of communism, Islam took its place for people’s hatred and prejudice. The Clash of Civilizations theory was the main instrument used for islamophobia in the western world. Although there are many factors concerning Islamophobia, I will mainly examine the effect of the Ottoman Empire. The paper presents how Ottoman colonial legacy is used to foment Islamaphobia in East Europe and Greece. Also, I will discuss what role the empire played, and also look at Christianity's role on islamophobia during the Ottoman Empire reign.

Body Paragraphs

To start with, the Ottoman Empire took Constantinople in 1453; then, it belonged to the Byzantine Empire. It was commanded by the 21-year old Sultan Mehmed the second. Before going into details of the siege, I would like to mention and important point in history. Even before the Ottoman Empire's entrance into Europe, there was already hate for Islam in Europe. The First Crusade in 1095 by Pope II. Urban was an attack on Islam or as the pope called, "A battle between the friends and the enemies of God." Therefore, the siege of Constantinople is vital for many reasons. First of all, the Ottoman Empire used gunpowder very smartly (Economist.com, para. 4). Building super-sized bombards called Dardanelles Gun gave Ottomans the ability to siege any fort with ease. It is also essential to know that this siege was not an ordinary siege. It marked the fall of the Roman Empire, the empire that lasted for 1500 years. The fall of empire opened the doors of Eastern Europe for the Ottoman Empire, with nothing to be afraid of on the east, they started advancing west. At this point, the Ottoman Empire had the mindset of "jihad," which meant that they had to push to the west and the non-Muslim countries to convert them into Islam. After the invasion of Europe started, with the help of the Crusade, the fear of and anger against Islam grew bigger. Yet the philosophy of the Ottoman Empire about converting people, in my opinion, was not cruel.

The Ottoman had an interesting approach when it came to religion. After they have won the battles and conquered a piece of land, Turkish people were placed in that geographical area to adapt and live there. In time, they converted casual people living in that land into Islam. A lot of people from different religions lived in the Ottoman Empire without a problem. Of course, there were unique benefits Muslims got in the empire, yet it was not a death penalty to be from a different religion. As a matter of fact, in the subject of trading, non-Muslims had more advantages than Muslims in some periods of the empire. Yet, as I have mentioned above, the approach of Christian countries built the main pillars of Islamophobia. Of course, the aggressive expansion of the Ottoman Empire created many reasons for Europeans to hate Ottomans and Islam too. For example, until Vienna, the Ottoman Empire was the most significant power of the Islamic world and was practically undefeated with a couple of exceptions. Greece and Eastern European countries were the most affected as they were the first countries to be conquered in Europe. Although Greece held up to the cultural and religious assimilation, we can not say that for other Eastern European countries as a vast number of people converted. Definitely, this expansion had effects on Islamophobia in Europe, but this hatred and fear consisted mostly out of differences and profiling.

The Ottoman Empire had a much different culture than western culture because of religious differences. The differences were not welcomed well by the European country. The people living in occupied lands started associating Islamic characteristics with evil behavior. Having dark skin, mustache, black beard, or wearing Islamic clothing became objects of hate for the common folk. The empire stayed in Greece and, generally, Western Europe for around 400 years. In those years, the young generation was taught to hate Islam because of its aggressive and oppressive nature. Up until the Great Turkish War, generation after generation were taught to hate their oppressors and their religion while the Turkish presence grew in their homeland. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, a large number of native Eastern Europeans converted to Islam, especially in Albania, Crete, and Bosnia. Some even became Ottoman over time. The hate on Islam started to show its presence right around these times. Austria and Venice motivated and supported people to raid Muslim-majority cities and kill those who have converted. Especially in Croatia, with the help of the Catholic Church, 130.000 Muslims were either exiled, murdered, or enslaved. Almost all buildings belonging to Muslim religion and culture were demolished in the region of Croatia to force inhabitants out. After that, many of the countries such as Greece and Albania committed horrendous crimes against the Muslim civilians living in the area as a part of their ethnic cleansing. It is important to note that for the Ottoman Empire, the goal was never to annihilate the Christian population, contrary to Christian states. In history, there are no documents that demonstrate that the Ottoman Empire acted with the intention of exterminating the Christian minority or countries.

Therefore, it can be said that because of the Ottoman Empire’s successful expansion and rivalry against Christian states through history, it is possible to see the opposition and outright hostility in European societies against Muslims. As a matter of fact, this mindset and discrimination even affected the US through the mass migration coming from Europe. The best evidence to this is that at the end-times of the Empire, Ottoman citizens were denied US citizenship or, if accepted, had to swear an oath stating that they were no longer loyal to the Sultan. The literature in Europe probably had the most significant influence on creating Islamophobia. All the known writers were using Muslims as an example of evil or uncivilized people. David Hume, Immanuel Kant, or Wilhelm Leibniz described Muslims as "people who cannot be educated nor made peace with." Thus, in a situation like this, Eastern Europeans had no choice but to hate Islam as they had no other option. They couldn't feel sympathy for them as it is a sin in Christianity; they cannot convert to Islam as they will be either exiled or murdered (Burke 17). The point I am trying to make is that, even though the Ottoman Empire was aggressive, Christians living in Eastern Europe played a more significant role in building the pillars of Islamophobia.

Essay about Islamophobia: Conclusion

After all, this subject can change depending on where you are looking at it. In my opinion, as I have mentioned, the Ottoman Empire did not create a "Christianophobia" even when the Muslims were being tortured and exiled more than the Christians. The empire gave the non-Muslims their own rights, their own religious courts, and their individual religious buildings. Besides, the Empire created good relations with big European countries like France and broke some of their prejudices. Even the countries that are far away from the Ottoman Empire were helped, such as the famine relief given by the Sultan to Ireland. When Ireland was living through a famine, the Sultan has sent £10.000 to Ireland to help (Irishcentral.com, 2019). Unfortunately, we did not see the same treatment for Muslims in European countries. Therefore, in my opinion, I do not think that the Ottoman Empire has played a significant role in Islamophobia. Instead, the behavior of Christian countries and especially the church forced people to hate Islam. Yes, the Empire ha attacked Christian countries, but as I have mentioned at the start of my paper, Christians have started attacking Muslims, and seeing them as "heathen dogs" goes way beyond that. Still, there are no similar examples of what the Christians did to Muslims in the Islamic world.

References

Burke, Daniel. “The Secret Costs of Islamophobia.” CNN, Cable News Network, 15 Nov. 2016.

“Little Known Tale of Generous Turkish Aid to the Irish during the Great Hunger.” IrishCentral.com, 6 July 2019.

Nielsen, Jørgen S., and Akgönül Samim. Yearbook of Muslims in Europe. Brill, 2011.

“The Fall of Constantinople.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper.

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