Most Americans were introduced to the term "Islamophobia" after the Muslim massacre of thousands of people had played out in their streets, their cities and on their television screens. Just when Americans had good reason to fear Islam, they were cautioned that such fears were symptomatic of an irrational and bigoted Islamophobia working its way through their reptile brains.
Eleven years later the number of Islamic phobias has proliferated as wildly as rabbits on a warm summer day or Al-Awlaki tapes at a London mosque. Any concerns about Islam can be dismissed as illegitimate by attaching a "phobia" at the end of it, and the power of the "phobia" is not just limited to killing debate about the famously moderate religion, but any "extreme" versions of it as well.
The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization drawing its inspiration in equal parts from the Koran and Mein Kampf, whose author's credits include Hamas and Al Qaeda, coined the term "Ikhwanophobia", which it defines as "the fear and or hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood members and their ideologies."
There are no hard and fast numbers on the spread of Ikhwanophobia, but anecdotal evidence appears to suggest that Egyptian Christians and Liberals are among the major groups stricken with the dreadful and often fatal disease.
As part of its Anti-Ikhwanophobia campaign, the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun) unveiled an Ikhwanophobia website to alert infidels to the harmful effects of fearing the Brotherhood. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were irreparably traumatized by the fear in a Christian woman's eyes as they were burning her house to the ground, are encouraged to talk about their secret shame.
"Ikhwanophobia.com aspires to open a new gateway for Ikhwanophobia victims encouraging them to share their sufferings," the site announces. And there may even be an Oprah special in the works. But the proliferation of Islamic phobias does not end there.
Much as the atom bomb began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union; Islamophobia began a phobia race between Sunni and Shiite Islamists. The Shiite Islamists of Iran responded to the Sunni Islamist Brotherhood's Ikhwanophobia by discovering Shi'itophobia.
According to Iran's Fars News Agency, the United States, Mubarak and Israel conspired to spread Shi'itophobia throughout Egypt. "Cairo's efforts to spread the Shi'itophobia were made at the order of the Zionist regime of Israel and were exercised on the basis the US plots." The poor wording of the article may give us some insight into the mind that could coin a word like "Shi'itophobia".
It is unclear how long Shi'itophobia has been around, but Vince Vance & The Valiants' 1980 hit single, "Bomb Iran" was probably an early representative of the genre. At the Tehran International Book Fair, a Dr. Farzin Banki warns that Shi'itophobic books must be identified and dealt with. Considering the treatment received by Salman Rushdie's book, there is no doubt that the Mullahs are expert at handling Shi'itophobia.
Not to be outdone by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Mullahs, the Salafis, currently everyone's definition for Islamic extremism, have also developed their own phobia. In response to Ikhwanophobia and Shi'itophobia, Egyptian Salafists unveiled "Salafi-phobia".
"We are trying to hammer home the message that Salafists are normal people," an Egyptian Salafist told CNN, without acknowledging that Salafists with hammers are the last thing that anyone wants to see. "We eat the same food, drink the same beverages and frequent the same hangouts. So don't be surprised when you find Salafists sitting next to you at Costas, sipping lattes." And then possibly blowing up the place on the way out.
While the Muslim world has been criticized for a lack of mental health treatment options, Islamists, to their credit, have already discovered more phobias than Sigmund Freud. Dr. Freud however would have commented on the psyches of people who insist on uncovering phobias in others while neglecting to analyze their own faults. Not to mention the mental state of mass murderers who insist that fear of them is an irrational phobia almost as serious as the severe case of Acrophobia that gripped dying office workers in the World Trade Center on September 11.
Not content with dismissing all criticism of Islam as Islamophobia, Islamists have begun generating sectarian phobias for each violent group and subgroup. The proliferation of Ikhwanophobias, Shi'itophobias and Salafiphobias is a symptom of the Islamophobia that Muslims feel for each other. And it will not end until there are more phobias to be found in Islam than in the APA's entire Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Amid all the Ikhwanophobias, Shi'itophobias and Salafiphobias, it is curious that no one has yet been diagnosed with Ahmadiphobia. Ahmadis are routinely persecuted and killed by other Muslims, but the media does not appear eager to alert Pakistani Muslims that they might be coming down with Ahmadiphobia. There is similarly no Bahaiphobia, Yazdiphobia or any phobias involving non-violent Muslim sects. Instead all the phobias, Ikhwanophobia, Salafiphobia and Shi'itophobia appear to be of violent Muslim groups—almost as if there is nothing irrational about those phobias at all.