The label of Islamophobia has been extrapolated to include famous atheists such as Sam Harris, Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins. Even practising Muslims like Maajid Nawaz who advocate against radicalization of Muslim youth have been labelled as anti-Muslim extremists. Sam Harris, who is a fan of Rumi’s poetry and considers Pakistani sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to be his favourite musician, is hardly someone you could accuse of being an anti-Muslim bigot. Yet this accusatory term is being circulated to malign, intimidate and silence genuine criticism of political Islamist ideology.
Instead of highlighting genuine hatred against Muslims, the word Islamophobia is now being used to intimidate and silence all criticism of Islam, both foreign and within. Its evocation shuts down all debates and leaves no room for disagreements.