Appropriate fear of Islam vs 'Islamophobia'

The term “Islamophobia” gets used pejoratively against conservatives. I think appropriate fear of Islam is different than some glib term of accusation. In 2005 Dr. Althea Horner and I had extensive discussions and collaboration about the psychology of terrorists, the role of women in Islam, and the mothering process of Muslim Arab boys. We observed that strict Islam gives fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons the right to punish, even kill, a woman if she in essence wounds their narcissism, especially if defying male religious authority in a public way -- the so-called “honor killings.”

The Koran and Islam seem to view women psychologically as essentially the possessions of men. This subsequently acts as part of the cultural background for the rearing of male children. It then is likely that the mothering of boys, more by women than not, will carry overtones of the envy and resentment and even fear they feel toward the domineering male, be it their fathers or their husbands or their adult sons. It is likely that the mothering of a woman with similar negative attitudes towards males will also be tinged with such envy and, hence, unconscious levels of resentment, if not downright hostility towards a son.           

As a consequence of such subtle maternal rejection and outright negativity, their sons will grow up with a reservoir of repressed anger that will find its outlet in that which is provided by the Koran and thus by their culture. With such empathy-deficient fixation at a narrow level of development, ego development in its fullest sense is compromised and life is dominated by the motives associated with a more brittle, rigid male gender identity and less capacity for empathy. This could allow some Muslim youths to be recruited for terrorist activity and violence.

Dr. Horner and I hypothesized that American and western democracies’ efforts to effectively negotiate with, much less win the “hearts and minds” of Muslim and Arab countries, are likely to fail or at least be more difficult. This is so unless there are massive political and educational efforts toward changing values and attitudes about marriage, child rearing, and the equal rights of women from within the Arab Muslim culture. The approach of the Abraham Accords instituted by Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump had allowed more open lines of economic and cultural engagement in the Middle East.

Image: Aia Fernandez

If you experience technical problems, please write to