Xenophobia is the fear and distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.

Xenophobia can involve perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup and can manifest itself in suspicion of the activities of others, and a desire to eliminate their presence to secure a presumed purity and may relate to a fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity.

Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality“.

The terms xenophobia and racism are sometimes confused and used interchangeably because people who share a national origin may also belong to the same race. Due to this, xenophobia is usually distinguished by opposition to foreign culture.

History

An early example of xenophobic sentiment in Western culture is the Ancient Greek denigration of foreigners as “barbarians“, the belief that the Greek people and culture were superior to all others, and the subsequent conclusion that barbarians were naturally meant to be enslaved.

Ancient Romans also held notions of superiority over all other peoples, such as in a speech attributed to Manius Acilius, “There, as you know, there were Macedonians and Thracians and Illyrians, all most warlike nations, here Syrians and Asiatic Greeks, the most worthless peoples among mankind and born for slavery.

Manifestations

Brazil

Despite the majority of the country’s population being of mixed (Pardo), African, or indigenous heritage, depictions of non-European Brazilians on the programming of most national television networks are scarce and typically relegated for musicians/their shows.

In the case of telenovelas, Brazilians of darker skin tone are typically depicted as housekeepers or in positions of lower socioeconomic standing.

Canada

Muslim and Sikh Canadians have faced racism and discrimination within recent years, especially after 2001, and the spillover effect of the United States’ War on Terror.

A 2016 survey from The Environics Institute, which was a follow-up to a study conducted 10 years prior that there may be discriminating attitudes that may be a residual of the effects of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

When it comes to opinions on both Sikh’s and Muslims, a poll done by Maclean’s revealed that only 28% of Canadians view Islam favorably, and only 30% viewed the Sikh religion favorably.

45% of respondents believed Islam encourages violence. In Quebec in particular, only 17% of respondents had a favorable view of Muslims.

Mexico

Racism in Mexico has a long history. Historically, Mexicans with light skin tones had absolute control over dark-skinned Amerindians due to the structure of the Spanish colonial caste system.

When a Mexican of a darker-skinned tone marries one of a lighter skinned-tone, it is common for them to say that they are ” ‘making the race better‘.” This can be interpreted as a self-attack on their ethnicity.

Despite improving economic and social conditions of Indigenous Mexicans, discrimination against Indigenous Mexicans continues to this day and there are few laws to protect Indigenous Mexicans from discrimination.

Violent attacks against indigenous Mexicans are moderately common and many times go unpunished.

United States

Concern over Japanese ethnic and immigrant groups during the Second World War prompted the Canadian and U.S. governments to intern most of their ethnically Japanese populations in the western portions of North America.

As in most countries, many people in the U.S. continue to be xenophobic against other races. In the view of a network of scores of US civil rights and human rights organizations, “Discrimination permeates all aspects of life in the United States, and extends to all communities of color.

Discrimination against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, especially when it comes to African Americans, is widely acknowledged. Members of every major American ethnic and religious minority have perceived discrimination in their dealings with other minority racial and religious groups.

Philosopher Cornel West has stated that:

“racism is an integral element within the very fabric of American culture and society. It is embedded in the country’s first collective definition, enunciated in its subsequent laws, and imbued in its dominant way of life.”

After Donald Trump took presidential office in 2017, he repeatedly attempted to enact a travel ban on originally seven countries (Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya) which were listed as “countries of concern” by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson under the Obama administration in 2011.

This was later changed to six in a revision that removed Iraq in part due to criticism that the original order overlooked the country’s role in fighting Islamic terrorism and barred entry even to the Iraqi interpreters who had been embedded with US forces in the region.

Khizr Khan, the father of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan, described it in a CNN interview as a continuation of what he called “Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric” and the order was described as xenophobic by Amnesty International. The policy was also criticized for targeting exclusively Muslim majority countries.

In defense of this order, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer cited these existing restrictions as evidence that the executive order was based on outstanding policies saying that the seven targeted countries were said to be “countries of particular concern” by the Obama administration.

President Trump stated his policy was “similar” to an order in 2011 signed by Barack Obama that “banned visa for refugees from Iraq“, where the number of refugees from Iraq dropped from 18,000 to 9,000 as a result of the suspension. Though others saw the connection between these two policies as tenuous at best.

In 2011, additional background checks were imposed on the nationals of Iraq. Foreigners who were nationals of those countries, or who had visited those countries since 2011, were required to obtain a visa to enter the United States, even if they were nationals or dual nationals of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

A few months after the original travel ban a revised ban was signed and Iraq was removed from the list of countries in part due to criticism that the original order overlooked the country’s role in fighting Islamic terrorism and barred entry even to the Iraqi interpreters who had been embedded with US forces in the region.

Bhutan

In 1991–92, Bhutan is said to have deported between 10,000 and 100,000 ethnic Nepalis (Lhotshampa). The actual number of refugees that were initially deported is debated by both sides.

In March 2008, this population began a multiyear resettlement to third countries including the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Japan

In 2005, a United Nations report expressed concerns about racism in Japan and that government recognition of the depth of the problem was not total.

The author of the report, Doudou Diène (Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights), concluded after a nine-day investigation that racial discrimination and xenophobia in Japan primarily affects three groups: national minorities, Latin Americans of Japanese descent, mainly Japanese Brazilians, and foreigners(mainly whites) from poor countries.

Japan accepted just 16 refugees in 1999, while the United States took in 85,010 for resettlement, according to the UNHCR.

New Zealand, which is 30 times smaller than Japan, accepted 1,140 refugees in 1999. Just 305 persons were recognized as refugees by Japan from 1981, when Japan ratified the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to 2002. Former Prime Minister Taro Aso called Japan a “one race” nation.

Thailand

As in much of Asia, dark skin is equated with outdoor labor conditions and the lower classes, but, contrary to the view in Western countries, it is not connected to slavery.

Thai culture shares this type of skin-toned bias as the rest of Asia. (There are no laws within the Kingdom of Thailand which outlaws racial discrimination inclusive of racist cliches known in the Western world. Unlike its neighboring nations which have been under colonialism, Thailand’s heritage as an uncolonized state also shaped its existing laws unlike its Westernized counterparts after decolonization. This also includes signage promoting racial segregation as done in the United States prior to 1964 and South Africa under Apartheid.)

Although Thailand has incorporated certain Western ideas concerning beauty, Asian attitudes regarding skin tones have been around for a long time.

The 20 million Isan population for instance, many of whom are of Laotian and Khmer descent, traditionally had darker skin and studies show that many view themselves as less desirable than those with lighter skin.

Skin whitening products have proven increasingly popular in most of Asia, including Thailand and are marketed in such a way as to promote light skin as beautiful and desirable.

Israel

According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government had done “little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens.

The 2005 US Department of State report on Israel wrote: “[T]he government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas, including… institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens.”

The 2010 U.S. State Department Country Report stated that Israeli law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and that government effectively enforced these prohibitions.

Former Likud MK and Minister of Defense Moshe Arens have criticized the treatment of minorities in Israel, saying that they did not bear the full obligation of Israeli citizenship, nor were they extended the full privileges of citizenship.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published reports documenting racism in Israel, and the 2007 report suggested that anti-Arab racism in the country was increasing. One analysis of the report summarized it thus: “Over two-thirds Israeli teens believe Arabs to be less intelligent, uncultured and violent.”

The Israeli government spokesman responded that the Israeli government was “committed to fighting racism whenever it raises its ugly head and is committed to full equality to all Israeli citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or background, as defined by our declaration of independence“.

Isi Leibler of the Jerusalem Center for Public affairs argues that Israeli Jews are troubled by “increasingly hostile, even treasonable outbursts by Israeli Arabs against the state” while it is at war with neighboring countries.

Palestine

Various Palestinian organizations and individuals have been regularly accused of being antisemitic.

Howard Gutman believes that much of Muslim hatred of Jews stems from the ongoing Arab–Israeli conflict and that peace would significantly reduce antisemitism.

In August 2003, senior Hamas official Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala:

It is no longer a secret that the Zionists were behind the Nazis’ murder of many Jews, and agreed to it, with the aim of intimidating them and forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.

In August 2009, Hamas refused to allow Palestinian children to learn about the Holocaust, which it called “a lie invented by the Zionists” and referred to Holocaust education as a “war crime.

Saudi Arabia

Racism in Saudi Arabia against labor workers who are foreigners, mostly from developing countries.

Asians maids have been persecuted victims of racism and discrimination in the country, foreign workers have been raped, exploited, under- or unpaid, physically abused, overworked and locked in their places of employment.

The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) describes these conditions as “near-slavery” and attributes them to “deeply rooted gender, religious, and racial discrimination

In many cases, the workers are unwilling to report their employers for fear of losing their jobs or further abuse.

Belgium

There were recorded well over a hundred antisemitic attacks in Belgium in 2009. This was a 100% increase from the year before.

The perpetrators were usually young males of immigrant background from the Middle East. In 2009, the Belgian city of Antwerp, often referred to as Europe’s last shtetl experienced a surge in antisemitic violence.

Bloeme Evers-Emden, an Amsterdam resident and Auschwitz survivor, was quoted in the newspaper Aftenposten in 2010:

“The antisemitism now is even worse than before the Holocaust. Antisemitism has become more violent. Now they are threatening to kill us.”

France

In 2004, France experienced rising levels of Islamic antisemitism and acts that were publicized around the world.

In 2006, rising levels of antisemitism were recorded in French schools. Reports related to the tensions between the children of North African Muslim immigrants and North African Jewish children.

The climax was reached when Ilan Halimi was tortured to death by the so-called “Barbarians gang“, led by Youssouf Fofana. In 2007, over 7,000 members of the community petitioned for asylum in the United States, citing antisemitism in France.

In the first half of 2009, an estimated 631 recorded acts of antisemitism took place in France, more than the whole of 2008.

Speaking to the World Jewish Congress in December 2009, the French Interior Minister Hortefeux described the acts of antisemitism as “a poison to our republic“. He also announced that he would appoint a special coordinator for fighting racism and antisemitism.

Germany

The period after losing World War I led to increased use of anti-Semitism and other racism in political discourse, for example among the right-wing Freikorps, emotions that finally culminated in the ascent of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933.

The Nazi racial policy and the Nuremberg Race Laws against Jews and other non-Aryans represented the most explicit racist policies in Europe in the twentieth century.

These laws deprived all Jews including even half-Jews and quarter-Jews as well as other non-Aryans from German citizenship. Jews official title became “subject of the state“.

The Nuremberg Race Laws forbid racially mixed sexual relations and marriage between Aryans and at first Jews but was later extended to “Gypsies, Negroes or their bastard offspring“.

Such interracial relations became a criminal and punishable offense under the race laws known as “racial pollution” Rassenschande.

Russia

By the beginning of the 20th century, most European Jews lived in the so-called Pale of Settlement, the Western frontier of the Russian Empire consisting generally of the modern-day countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and neighboring regions.

Many pogroms accompanied the Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire; the number of Jewish orphans exceeded 300,000.

In the 2000s, neo-Nazi groups inside Russia had risen to include as many as tens of thousands of people. Racism against both the Russian citizens (peoples of the Caucasus, indigenous peoples of Siberia and Russian Far East, etc.) and non-Russian citizens of Africans, Central Asians, East Asians (Vietnamese, Chinese, etc.) and Europeans (Ukrainians, etc.) is a significant problem.

In 2016, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that:

“Researchers who track xenophobia in Russia have recorded an “impressive” decrease in hate crimes as the authorities appear to have stepped up pressure on far-right groups”.

South Africa

Xenophobia in South Africa has been present in both the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. Hostility between the British and Boers exacerbated by the Second Boer War led to rebellion by poor Afrikaners who looted British-owned shops.

South Africa also passed numerous acts intended to keep out Indians, such as the Immigrants Regulation Act of 1913, which provided for the exclusion of “undesirables“, a group of people that included Indians.

This effectively halted Indian immigration. The Township Franchise Ordinance of 1924 was intended to “deprive Indians of the municipal franchise.

In 1994 and 1995, gangs of armed youth destroyed the homes of foreign nationals living in Johannesburg, demanding that the police work repatriate them to their home countries.

In 2008, a widely documented spate of xenophobic attacks occurred in Johannesburg. It is estimated that tens of thousands of migrants were displaced; property, businesses, and homes were widely looted. The death toll after the attack stood at 56.

In 2015, another widely documented series of xenophobic attacks occurred in South Africa, mostly against migrant Zimbabweans.

This followed remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu stating that the migrants should “pack their bags and leave“. As of 20 April 2015, 7 people had died and more than 2000 foreigners had been displaced.

Sudan

In Sudan, black African captives in the civil war were often enslaved, and female prisoners were often abused sexually, with their Arab captors claiming that Islamic law grants them permission.

According to CBS News, slaves have been sold for US$50 a piece. In September 2000, the U.S. State Department alleged that “the Sudanese government’s support of slavery and its continued military action which has resulted in numerous deaths are due in part to the victims’ religious beliefs.

Jok Madut Jok, professor of history at Loyola Marymount University, states that the abduction of women and children of the south is slavery by any definition.

The government of Sudan insists that the whole matter is no more than the traditional tribal feuding over resources.

Australia

The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (White Australia policy) effectively barred people of non-European descent from immigrating to Australia.

There was never any specific policy titled as such, but the term was invented later to encapsulate a collection of policies that were designed to exclude people from Asia (particularly China) and the Pacific Islands (particularly Melanesia) from immigrating to Australia.

The Menzies and Holt Governments effectively dismantled the policies between 1949 and 1966 and the Whitlam Government passed laws to ensure that race would be totally disregarded as a component for immigration to Australia in 1973.

The 2005 Cronulla riots were a series of race riots and outbreaks of mob violence in Sydney’s southern suburb Cronulla which resulted from strained relations between Anglo-Celtic and (predominantly Muslim) Lebanese Australians.

Travel warnings for Australia were issued by some countries but were later removed. On December 2005, a fight broke out between a group of volunteer surf lifesavers and Lebanese youth. These incidents were considered to be a key factor in a racially motivated confrontation the following weekend.

Violence spread to other southern suburbs of Sydney, where more assaults occurred, including two stabbings and attacks on ambulances and police officers.

On 30 May 2009, Indian students protested against what they claimed were racist attacks, blocking streets in central Melbourne. Thousands of students gathered outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital where one of the victims was admitted.

In light of this event, the Australian Government started a Helpline for Indian students to report such incidents. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, termed these attacks “disturbing” and called for Australia to investigate the matters further.”

References:

*This article was originally published at en.wikipedia.org.