Did the Muslim Brotherhood invent the term “Islamophobia”?

The Brotherhood has certainly seized and run with the term in order to intimidate critics of jihad and Islamic supremacism into silence, but it looks as if the term “Islamophobia” is much older than Claire Berlinski claims.

Cheradenine Zakalwe here traces it to the 1990s, and it is possible, also, that the term goes back even farther than the 1990s sources that Zakalwe quotes. According to the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, “At the end of the 1970s, Iranian fundamentalists invented the term ‘Islamophobia’ formed in analogy to ‘xenophobia’. The aim of this word was to declare Islam inviolate. Whoever crosses this border is deemed a racist. This term, which is worthy of totalitarian propaganda, is deliberately unspecific about whether it refers to a religion, a belief system or its faithful adherents around the world.”

Whether it comes from the 1970s or 1990s, it is clear that Claire Berlinski was quite careless here, and her contention that the Ikhwan invented “Islamophobia” simply ludicrous. I have indeed repeated this claim in the past, as I did not previously have any reason to doubt its accuracy, but I will not be repeating it again. With Leftists and Islamic supremacists always poised to pounce on any inaccuracy (and perceived inaccuracy, and anything they can twist to look like an inaccuracy), it is imperative for counter-jihad writers to be far more scrupulous and careful than this.

“Did the Muslim Brotherhood Invent the Term Islamophobia?,” by Cheradenine Zakalwe at Islam Versus Europe, August 26:

That the Muslim Brotherhood invented the term Islamophobia has become a
commonplace on the Counterjihad scene. But is it true? The only evidence
for it seems to be the undocumented assertions of Abdur-Rahman
Muhammad, a former Muslim radical turned “moderate”.

He has made the following statements about the creation of the term islamophobia:

That’s the reason why the question of whether America is
“Islamophobic” – now bandied about so casually, as though opposition to
the mosque has revealed a nasty strain in the American psyche, akin to
the terrible racism or anti-Semitism that once ran wild – is so deeply
offensive. This loathsome term is nothing more than a
thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks
for the purpose of beating down critics.


In an effort to silence critics of political Islam,
advocates needed to come up with terminology that would enable them to
portray themselves as victims. Muhammad said he was present when his
then- allies, meeting at the offices of the International Institute for
Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Northern Virginia years ago, coined the term

Muhammad said the Islamists decided to emulate the homosexual activists
who used the term “homophobia” to silence critics. He said the group
meeting at IIIT saw “Islamophobia” as a way to “beat up their critics.”


These statements were cited in a Claire Berlinksi [sic] article which was reproduced on Jihadwatch. That seems to be what led to the diffusion of this idea.

But let’s pause for breath. The claims made by Muhammad are neither
documented nor dated. And even if what he is saying is true, if a word
is invented and then pushed into general circulation, you should be able
to document its spread. Modern search technology makes it relatively
easy to do this. So where are the textual analyses showing the spread of
this term originating in statements or documents issued by the Muslim

I did a textual search on this term using many specialised electronic
archives, biased towards British sources but including American ones
too. My conclusion was that it had originated in Britain and had almost
certainly been coined not by a Muslim but a pitifully dhimmified Jew,
the “anti-racism” campaigner Richard Stone. He was one of the authors of
a letter to the Guardian in 1994, which was the first recorded use I
could find of the term, and he was present on the committee of the
Runnymede Trust which launched the term into broad circulation in 1996. A
fuller discussion of this topic, including quotes, can be found here.

In my view the claims of Abdur-Rahman Muhammad form too slender an
evidentiary basis on which to support the assertion that the term was
invented by the Muslim Brotherhood. Clearly it has been seized on and
exploited by them. But we shouldn’t attribute its invention to them
unless we can prove it. There is no need to make stuff about Muslims.
The truth is bad enough.

UPDATE: Jihad Watch reader John just sent me an extract from Wikipedia (a scurrilous propaganda site, at least for issues of current moment, that I will not link) pointing out early twentieth-century uses of the word “Islamophobia.” However, they didn’t use the word with contemporary propagandists’ intention of demonizing those who resist jihad and Islamic supremacism, and so these early uses of the word don’t quite apply to the question at hand.

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  1. says

    This is from a French site, written in 2003


    The word “Islamophobia” has a history, it is better to know before using it lightly. It was used in 1979,by the Iranian mullahs who wanted to get women who refused to wear the veil “bad Muslim” accusing them of being “Islamophobic”.

    He was responsive after the Rushdie affair, with London as Islamist associations or Al Muhajiroun Islamic Human Rights Commission whose statutes provide for “gather information on human rights abuses of God.” In fact, the fight against Islamophobia fits well into this category as it encompasses all violations fundamentalist morality (homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, etc.)..

    The first victims of Islamophobia in their eyes are the Taliban, while “Islamophobic” most often cited by these groups are called Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen! In fact, far from designating any racism, the word Islamophobia is clearly designed to discredit those who resist fundamentalists: starting with feminists and liberal Muslims.

  2. says

    In this meta-conversation about the coinage/derivation of the term “Islamophobia”, it seems to be becoming common to link it to the term xenophobia. However, I would suggest there is a third word that served as a bridge or stepping-stone, so to speak, from xenophobia to Islamophobia — since outside of PC MC books (including various college and high school textbooks in various social sciences) and outside of Leftist professors wearing Birkenstocks, yellow socks and ill-fitting suits in classes, the term xenophobia is not that commonly bruited about.

    The term that has been commonly bruited about, however, in order to browbeat people into PC MC submission, is homophobia; and it’s arguable that the PC MC tactic in using it has had some sociopolitical success.

  3. says

    Happy American workers are kept busy building tanks and planes thanks to violent organizations like Hezbollah. Arabs threats are needed to pull the US arms industry out of its recession. Nasrallah deserves a billion dollar bonus.

  4. says

    “Phobia” linked to anything like “Islamo” or “homo” is a worn out cliche to generate pollitical pity – NOTE: “political pity”.
    It’s an old ploy; cheap and petty, but it gets attention, like a war-cry. Of course, by its rooting it’s misused.
    But just shout (anything) phobia and we’re to believe victims are being trod to death by Draconian measures.
    Actually, it’s the opposite; either an attack or a provocation is coming.

  5. says

    Off topic but a small item of good news. Tonight, here in the U.K, Channel 4 TV Screened a program entitled ‘Islam: The Untold Story.’ which came up with the same questions dealt with in our Bobby’s ‘Did Muhammad Exist’. It told of the lack of evidence for the period after Muhammad’s death to the 690s and the lack of coinage etc. It asked “Did Islam give birth to the Arab Empire or did the Arab Empire give birth to Islam.” Of course it came to no firm conclusion, but it was refreshing to ses a TV Channel prepared to screen a 90 minutes programme expressing doubt about Islam’s origin. I am writing to Channel 4 to compliment them on their willingness to screen such a politically incorrect programme.

  6. says

    That *is* good to hear.

    You say you are “writing to Channel 4 to compliment them on their willingness to screen such a politically incorrect programme.”

    Yes, exactly the thing to do.

    And you don’t know how many *others* may have done the same…more than a few, one hopes.

    If they get a flood of intelligent ‘Love Mail’ to outweigh Hate Mail they will undoubtedly also receive, then they may be encouraged to repeat their effects.

  7. says

    Melvin Polatnick wrote:

    Happy American workers are kept busy building tanks and planes thanks to violent organizations like Hezbollah. Arabs threats are needed to pull the US arms industry out of its recession. Nasrallah deserves a billion dollar bonus.

    I very seldom reply to comments on stories that have long since fallen into the archives, but I will make an exception here.

    Note what this poster is slyly implying: that elements in the West *welcome* the threat of Jihad, or”worse yet”that there is no real threat of Jihad, and it has all been invented by “Islamophobes” and the American arms industry.

    Note, too, his reference to “Arabs”. This has *nothing* to do with race or ethnicity”this is all about Islam and its violent tenets.

    There have now been over 20,000 violent Jihad attacks all over the world since 9/11, amounting to many thousands dead.

    And in the wake of the “Arab Spring”, Erdogan’s dismantling of Kemalism in Turkey, and mass Muslim immigration into the West, the world is increasingly violently Islamizing.

    This implications of this poster”whom I have never seen comment before”that all of this Jihad ans Shari’ah savagery is just something ginned up by the American arms industry to make big bucks is just laughably grotesque.