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Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe

Historically, Europe was built on a shared belief in democracy, individual freedom, commitment to human rights, gender equality, freedom of speech, and importantly religion and the right to migration/ asylum. During the last years there was an alarming rise in xenophobia in which islamophobia is the pivotal constituent in Europe.

Xenophobia is characterized as the "dislike of or prejudices against people from other countries" and Islamophobia is and "unreasonable dislike/hatred or fear of, and prejudice against, Muslim or Islam." Many experts feel that the real danger to European unity and the future is neither economy, history, nationalism, or extreme political affiliations but rising xenophobia in which Islamophobia is the overriding factor. We have become accustomed to the word Islamophobia, but the ‘phobia’ part softens the meaning as if it was a medical condition deserving of tolerance.

Common factors that trigger xenophobia, in general, are differences in cultural and social perception, and the rejection of any alterations within the social environment, and a lack of education. This has got cemented by highly publicized Islamic fundamentalism and dramatic visuals of terrorism globally, which unfortunately has cost many lives. Without pulling punches, another main cause is the politicians' effect; experts of behavioral sciences and international relations accept that politicians have a clear effect on the people, urging them to participate in xenophobic movements while fueling their ideologies with hateful rhetoric.

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