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12 'Phobias' and 'Isms': Recognition of Difference or the Slippery Slope of Particularisms?

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Chapter Summary

In recent years, new terminology has been emerging at the international level, especially at UN forums, suggesting a typology of language for the racial and religious discrimination suffered by various groups. Is there an apparent need to follow each mention of anti-Semitism with Islamophobia and Christianophobia just because parity is being sought by populous religions? This chapter asks where this accumulation of new terms is going to lead the international community - to the creation of endless new 'isms' and 'phobias' such as Hinduophobia, Buddhistophobia, Bahá’íophobia, Sikhophobia, Zoroastrianophobia and so on? More importantly, what purpose it really serves in international human rights law? Taking a victim-centred approach, the main question is whether the identification of separate hatreds and discrimination enhances legal and other approaches to combating them. This is the criteria used to assess the utility of expanding particularisms during the course of the chapter.

Keywords: isms; particularisms; phobias



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