For example, because many attacks on the niqab are thinly veiled swipes at Muslim women, they are countered with claims that any and all objection to the face veil must be inherently Islamophobic. The problem here is many Muslims themselves warily regard the face veil as a sign of encroaching fundamentalism. Where do their concerns fit into the Islamophobic narrative in the West?
Ironically, this is exactly what [Edward] Said warned against […] our current prevailing discourse resists any pluralistic depiction of the Muslim world. Reflexively defending the most visible forms of Islamic practice, be it niqabs or gender segregation, as if Muslim liberals, secularists and minorities either don’t exist or are Westernised and therefore irrelevant, perpetuates the misconception that only certain Muslims are authentic and marginalised. It stifles debate among Muslims and consolidates Islam as the eternal and binary opposite of the West. It ignores legitimate fears many Muslims have of rising fundamentalism and, most worryingly, it permits the erasure of smaller sects and subsects that make up the Muslim world.
[As such,] Islamophobia should not be reduced to a slur describing people with negative attitudes to Muslims, but as an analysis of how the West approaches Islam from a fundamentally derogatory perspective. To do otherwise transforms it from a structural issue to a problem of individuals.
Ruby Hamad on Islamophobia.
For the record, Edward Said is the author of the 1978 book, Orientalism, one of the foundational post-colonialist/anti-imperialist texts.