There is a long list of known phobias. I fear standing at the top of a cliff looking down, and I fear spiders. Those two are probably phobias but many other things that I fear are necessary to avoid injury or ill health. Fear is a necessary motivator to keep us safe by alerting us to possible danger. These are not phobias. A phobia is indicated when even the thought of being near something triggers the fear that may lead to a panic attack and unreasonable reactions.
Xenophobia is different to racism. Racism may target a particular race of people whereas xenophobia’s fear or hatred of all strange or unfamiliar people or things, can result in the target being within one’s own culture.
Fear and hatred of other religions is a common form of xenophobia and seems to exist to some extent all over the world. Extremists in various religions target not only other religions but may target people in their own religion who have a different interpretation to their own.
The core teachings of all the major religions are not only compatible; they are so similar that, unless the source is noted, it is often difficult to tell which text is from which religion. The teaching that ‘all people are equal’ is basic in all the major religions and this makes it difficult to understand why there is so much xenophobic behaviour between religions.
Like all phobias, the hatred factor of xenophobia reduces as the fear reduces, and the fear reduces from being exposed to the feared person, or thing, without experiencing any harm. After more exposure, there may even be some pleasant feelings and the beginning of a sense of trust that nothing terrible is going to happen by being near this person or thing. Theoretically, xenophobia can be remedied through education and the controlled safe exposure, to each other, of all the groups that make up the community.
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.