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Islam – The New 'Other?'

The New Other
A new ‘other’ is being created. Migrants and in particular those from Islamic countries, are being scapegoated and increasingly being blamed for the world’s problems. Russia’s ‘otherness’ is being replaced by stereotyping of Islam and Islamic peoples. What is the process involved in the creation a new ‘other?’ Will Islam be the West’s new ‘Other?’

Nicolai Petro, Professor of Comparative and International Politics at the University of Rhode Island joins John Harrison to discuss the shifting nature of the relations between nationality and identity. As Professor Petro notes, such relationships evolve and shift over time; responding to political and social context. One of the characteristics of the uncertainty of the current era is that our fundamental perceptions of other cultures and civilisations are moving because they are being changed by those who are able to make changes – elites. We tend to feel best and more productive when reality conforms to our perception of it. If that reality changes quickly then people basically feel disorientated.

Iraqi Christian forces inspect the damage at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. - Sputnik International
Christianity, Not Islam, World's Most Persecuted Religion - EU Report
An interesting debate ensures around whether the West is regressing to anti-Islamic prejudices based on deep-lying Christian protestant thinking. Professor Petro points out the ‘othering’ process often involves both distancing and utilisation of the ‘other.’ Political leaders tend to be operating on a short time basis in this case ‘othering’ Muslims can be used for the advancement of their own careers. Professor Petro agrees that there has been a historical tradition to isolate white Christian culture from Islamic culture, and to unite to remove the threat of this ‘other.’

The conversation turned to Russia, historically looked upon as a natural ally against Islam. Professor Petro pointed out though that this paradigm is not completely applicable today, because Russia itself recognizes that it is partly Islamic. Russia therefore serves as an example of how to solve the problem of ‘othering’ Islam, because it has assimilated Islam into its own culture. Russia may become less of an ‘other’ in the future, however it will not be completely accepted into western civilisation.

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