Part of the reason why is because the concept does not adequately capture how Muslims are racialized and reduced to singular racial 'otherlings' in defiance of their complex ethnic and racial diversity.
There is also the issue that Islamophobia, like any other phobia, is an irrational act that is described in terms that focus on individual agency.
The Western state as agent of anti-Islamic bias, and policy focus, is usually religiously avoided in these discussions.
This is particularly true of media and some scholarly discussions in the US, Britain, and France, among other Western states.
I think it is important to note that anti-Islamic sentiment in the private and the public spheres is not merely an irrational feeling.
Accordingly, I reject the notion that to deal with Islamophobia there is a need to propogate a moderate version of Islam, a kind of positive steering strategy that would allow biased non-Muslims to feel a little less irrational.
Steve Biko was right when he said that racism was not a problem of Blacks. What he meant was that racism during the era of apartheid was a white problem.
In the same vein, I think that Muslims should not feel obliged to fashion Islam into bigot friendly frames. For this reason, I also reject the notion that there is such a thing as moderate or radical Islam.
There simply is no such religious division in Islam. The religion is based on five universal principles and there is no moderate or radical interpretation of how these principles guide Islam.
Marking a community as radical or moderate won't help bigots feel any more secure about their prejudices.
The division of moderate or radical Islam is more useful in describing the political interests of the Bush administration, for example, than it is theologically insightful.
That aside, I think there is some value in using Islamophobia as a means of describing some of what Muslims face in the post 9/11 era.
The Runnymede Trust cites 8 building blocks that define Islamophobia in a report entitled Islamaphobia a Challenge for Us All:
1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2. It is seen as separate and "other." It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3. It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
4. It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.
5. It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
6. Criticisms made of "the West" by Muslims are rejected out of hand.
7. Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8. Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal.
The last building block is of particular relevance to me as I write tonight. I have been thinking about a coversation I had with a young Muslim brother last night.
The brother told me that he was serving a white woman in a store where he works and she stopped and asked him what his religion was. He said he thought it odd that she would all of a suddent ask the question.
He decided to answer the woman. "I am a Muslim" he said with a smile. He expected she would say something like "oh that is interesting" or maybe something like "oh I know a Muslim woman I work with."
Instead, the woman drew back with a grim look and said, "Are you a terrorist?"
I knew immediately what he was feeling. I have been there too in Portland, Oregon, when a white car salesman asked me if I was a Muslim.
I said "yes" and he then asked, "Is your father a terrorist?"
I got up and walked out of the dealership but his comment has kept burning in my psyche ever since.