Fambras (the Brazilian Federation of Muslim Associations) has issued a cooperation agreement with the embassies of 25 most Muslims countries to ask the Western media to stop using the term “Islamic State” and starting using the term Daesh when referring to the extremist group.
The document aims to reduce the islamophobia as many people have started to think Islam preaches the atrocities perpetrated by terrorists since the term “Islamic State” evokes an idea of a state of Muslims. But the truth is the majority part of Muslims all over the world don´t agree at all with the ideology preached by the extremist group.
The document intends to inform Brazilian citizens the Muslims who live there cannot suffer offenses for something they don´t believe, preach or have any kind of contact. The replacement of the term could be an ally in this fight against extremism and islamophobia. According to the document, there are more than 900.000 Muslims living peacefully in the country. In addition, they are citizens who are committed politically, legally and socially with all their duties.
The vice-president of FAMBRAS, Ali Zoghbi, gave us an interview to explain in details the importance of this measure not only in Brazil, but also all over the world.
Words Heal: What is the importance of the replacement of the term?
The replacement of the term is of paramount importance because the present term refers first to something that is not a state neither Islamic because Islam refers to a content of peace and preservation of life and what we have seen from this extremist group is just the opposite. So in that sense it is important and fairly many stereotypes and prejudice were created in people´s minds after they heard the wrong use of the term. Another point, in the semantic point of view, the term really doesn´t convey the meaning of the synonym of the Islamic word and it is quite evident in the letter we have written
Words Heal: What has driven FAMBRAS to release this document?
We began to have a fairly clear perception that islamophobia has increased precisely because it was created in the imaginary of people, who have a very small knowledge of what is Islam and Muslims, the whole Muslim community is involved in terrorist attacks. Islam, today is a religion of one billion and seven hundred million people. A religion with this number of people and at the same time the perception that Islam praises the atrocities that were perpetrated by this extremist group. That is why we focused on promoting this dialogue with the media to make an appeal so the term will no longer be used
Words Heal: What are the most recent cases of islamophobia? Do cases occur with great frequency?
We have daily, we have a very extensive dossier, these cases are commonplace, have become commonplace. Today perhaps a little less due to the atrocities perpetrated by this extremist group, they have happened less frequently. We noticed, we have surveys that show the increase quite important, right, and we report cases, so they happens with a certain frequency. And the increase is, in large extent, due to the media narratives. We have seen the efforts of some media companies to try to deconstruct this image of Muslims and Islam, but still in a very timid and very inadequate way. We also perceive on the part of the public power a very important ignorance about Islam and about the Muslims and at the same time also an omission due in large part to the ignorance about the religion. So, there is an emission, the cases of intolerance are not investigated properly and we do not have solutions to many of them
Mr. Zoghbi finished our interview emphasizing the media has an important role on the fight against extremism and islamophobia:
The intention of the letter is a dialogue without, at any time, wanting to restrict freedom of expression because I think it is sacred within what constitutes our citizenship. So we suggest, we justify, within that debate the reason of the suggestion. And I think frankly that it would be a very good tone for journalistic ethics that is causing so many problems, to use, to make this change in the journalism manual. This extremist group really cannot be titled in this way on account of the consequences that we have already started experiencing
By Giulliana Moreira