Can Europe Make It?

Islamophobia and Russophobia: towards creating a new world order

The west has had two fundamental phobias: communism and fundamental Islam. These two fears have lately re-emerged. Or perhaps they have merely been dormant.

Serkan Aydin
17 February 2015

Pegida, February 2015. Sozialfotografie/flickr (some rights reserved)The current world order is deeply embedded with the severe antagonism of civilisations, which has claimed the lives of millions and facilitated the decline of myriads of empires and the triumph of others. Amongst the varied reasons, race and religion have taken the lead in bringing about historical confrontations.

Human beings have evolved from cavemen to post-modern scientists. But, what has not changed in human nature is the unabated instinct to rule, subjugate and destroy for the sake of sovereignty. Since humanity’s first example of murder— when Cain slew his own brother Abel —bloodshed on earth has not come to an halt, but has rather multiplied.

In his essay titled 'The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order’, Samuel Huntington purports that the fundamental source of conflict in the post-cold war world will not be primarily geopolitics or economics, but culture and religion. Ziauddin Sardar claims too that ‘contemporary Islamophobia is a “re-emergence” of a historical anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic phenomenon: a continuum that stretches from before the crusades to the present day and without doubt into the future’. 

The west, however, not only confronted Islam but also deemed many others inferior and as a threat. Some ethnologists such as Carolus Linnaeus subdivided humankind into miscellaneous categories with distinct characteristics. George M. Fredrickson purported that ‘not surprisingly, the logic that flowed from this classification was that white Europeans were superior and other ‘darker, coloured peoples’ were both ‘ugly’ and at best ‘semi-civilised’. Nazi ideology considered the majority of Slavic population (mainly Russians) as ‘non-Aryan’ and ‘sub-human’. The languages of racial inferiority and ethnic superiority still function powerfully across the globe today. 

The conflict is between the 'west' and the ‘rest’, and has lately gained considerable momentum, but it is not solely confined to the west and Islam, and so should be considered in a wider context. The west has had two fundamental phobias during the recent decades: communism and fundamental Islam. Communism (or Russophobia) was defeated in part with the collapse of soviet union. Islam has been fought for centuries. These two fears have lately re-emerged. Or perhaps they have merely been dormant. 

The west has already failed to fully isolate and demonise Russia, which has expanded its trade and cultural ties with many other countries — including Muslim ones. Neither BRICS nor the Eurasian Economic Union comprises any Islamic country except former Soviet Union members, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Most of these Muslim countries see Russia as the sole alternative power against an Anglo-American led world, in which many have already suffered intensely through wars, regime changes, colonisation, post-modern exploration and now the growing issue of Islamophobia in the west. None of the Islamic countries have joined the sanctions and Turkey views the Eurasian Economic Union as an alternative to European Union. Turkey’s president Erdogan recently called the sincerity of the EU into question, asserting that the EU has to prove that it is not an Islamophobic Christian union by providing Turkey with full EU membership.

Turkey's president Erdogan has recently called the EU's sincerity into question. | WEF/flickr (some rights reserved)

Turkey's president Erdogan has recently called the EU's sincerity into question. | WEF/flickr (some rights reserved)

Within the conflict of 'the west and the rest', these two phobias seem to be taking place on the same side — ‘the rest' and now they are reacting to the west. This can be observed in the recent Paris terrorist attacks. 'Je Suis Charlie' was fiercely criticised by Muslims all over the world, as well as Russians. Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Putin leader of Chechnya, asked 'why the presidents, kings and prime ministers have never led marches of protest against the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, and Iraqis?' In most of the Russian media, conspiracy theories fomented by America or Israel were popular with some publications and channels. The Russian community reacted too, through demonstrations, where they held placards saying: 'Je Suis Donbass’ and 'Je Suis Novorossia', harshly criticising the double standards of the west, which has turned a blind eye to the war in eastern Ukraine. For most, French blood had more significance and nobility in this case. 

President Vladimir Putin has called on the international community to establish a new world order with the aim of preventing future conflicts. Putin has blamed the United States for accelerating the collapse of the international security system and abusing its role as global hegemon. Commenting on Putin’s speech, president of the Institute of Strategic Studies Alexander Konovalov pointed out that 'historically, shifts in world order had been determined on the battlefield. The cold war is over, but there was no peace agreement, nor was there an agreed principle of mutual relations. We need to create them, but no one knows who should define this new world order’. 

The definition of the new world order is being created through proxy-wars, financial and political pre-dominance and confidential wars behind the scenes. In this competition to create a new world order, the structure of the new polarisation is the 'west and the rest’. Islamic countries seem to take their place on the side of the ‘rest’. Russia, as a nuclear power and with a robust leader —Putin - are seen as the only counter-force to balance the power relationship on the globe against the Anglo-American axis and its controversial foreign policies. 

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