8 The Psychology of Inequity Haldun Gülalp charted the historical conditions under which the role of Islam as a political ideology took form within Turkey. Based on this politi- cal ideology of Islamism within Muslim societies, religion and politics are deemed inseparable, and he further quotes Ali Shari’ati, saying that Islam “is a political ideology that embraces every dimension of human life and thought” (Gülalp, 2002). Gülalp established that under the context of the global modernization project, Islam and the West became fundamentally opposed in their essence. According to this absolute generalization, Mus- lim societies have an unchangeable essence. Chao and Kung (2014) discuss how essentialism and a social power dynamic can be causes for negative intergroup outcomes such as preju- dice and bias within intrapersonal and intergroup dynamics that exist in societies. They define essentialism as the belief that social groups possess underlying essences that give rise to immutability, without which the individuals cease to be what they are hence, the essence is indicative of individual characteristics (Chao & Kung, 2014). The conceptualization of essentialism can be seen in conjunction with Orientalism when it comes to viewing Muslim identity. Said (1978) defines Orientalism as a form of thought dealing with the foreign, based on knowledge that makes hard-and-fast distinctions between the West and the East. Such hard-and-fast distinctions make use of essentialism, which creates and reinforces social categories within society, which then gives rise to the phenomenon of Orientalist essentialism. This Orientalist essentialism seeps through in secular nationalistic sen- timents that imply the recognition of the West as superior and asserts the hegemonic power that the West holds, albeit in a concealed manner. This power forms the core of the global system, and the authentic self of the Muslim community essentially positions and defines itself in relation to the core that it continuously reacts to, resists, rejects, accommodates, or imitates (Gülalp, 2002) in the formation of its identity. Yet essentialism continues to hold, despite immense variations intersections of nationalism and feminism in Muslim majority cultures (Anjum, 2020). PERCEPTION OF THE MUSLIM IDENTITY IN THE WEST By exploring why many people around the world have maintained a religious identity, we have tried to establish the importance of the institu- tion of religion and its relevance today. In this section, we will extend our understanding of the psychological underpinnings of having a religious identity—in terms of both its positive and negative consequences. The scope of this literature review will revolve around highlighting how the Western perception of the Muslim identity has an ongoing relationship with the discrimination and stereotyping of the Muslim diaspora present in non-Muslim countries.
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