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Muslims and Islamophobia

A Muslim assaults an atheist for mocking Mohammed, and a Muslim judge dismisses the charges and berates the victim -- and it all happens here in America. Yet there is something inherently disturbing about a public official chastising a citizen for engaging in constitutionally protected expression, however obnoxious. It is especially troubling when it's a matter of criticizing or even lampooning religion, an area in which free speech has so often been trampled. …

To Tackle Islamophobia, Both West and the Muslims Must Introspect: Sultan Shahin tells UNHRC
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

...  But despite all these depressing developments, the Muslim world shows no signs of introspection. We continue to wallow in victimhood. Conspiracy theories abound. Denial continues. Even 9/11 is not yet accepted generally as the handiwork of Al-Qaeda. We Muslims could have utilised the killing of Osama bin Laden as an occasion for making a new beginning. But not only in Islamist Pakistan, even in secular, multicultural India had some Muslims offered funeral prayers in absentia for the world’s chief terrorist. A War within Islam is clearly going on but we mainstream Muslims ourselves don’t seem to realise its grave consequences. I want to take this opportunity, Madam President, to appeal to all the Muslim countries represented in this august forum, to take this war within Islam seriously and devise strategies to win this war for mainstream peaceful Islam.

That we Muslims continue to be in complete denial of our situation cannot be in doubt. We just do not seem to recognise the danger inherent in allowing Petrodollar-funded Islamist groups taking over our mosques and mardrasas. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam.com, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 18th session in Geneva on 23rd September 2011.

Report: Public School Textbooks Whitewashing Islam
Erick Stakelbeck CBN News Terrorism Analyst

"On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four passenger planes, crashing two of them into New York City's World Trade Center and the third into the Pentagon. The devastation and loss of so many lives made the United States firmly resolved to rid the world of terrorism."…

The fear factor
Farrukh Dhondy

The fear factor

Islam has, through the ages, been variously denounced as a heresy, as fanaticism, as a religion of cruelty and other not very pleasant things. The people who called it a heresy were not labelled Islamophobic. They were usually called theologians. It was when Muslims began to live as minorities in western countries in recent times that their religion was vilified or held responsible for some practice disapproved by the majority that the misleading term became current. …

For many in our society, incidents like Muslims requesting a building permit, the violent behaviour of an individual Muslim, or even a political campaign like the one we have this year unfortunately trigger greater amounts of fear of Islam and Muslims.  The media and politicians, for limited popular gain, rush to denounce Sharia ... 

Need for a Major Paradigm shift in Mosque proceedings/sub-culture in America to forestall any potentially catastrophic fallout of Islamophobia, and for Americanization of the minority Muslim community. A 12 point agenda for serious consideration by the board of all mosques and Islamic centers and the whole spectrum of Muslim community leaders in America -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Like Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and secularists, some Muslims have undoubtedly been violent and intolerant, but the new exhibition at the British Museum – Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam – is a timely reminder that this is not the whole story. The hajj is one of the five essential practices of Islam; when they make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims ritually act out the central principles of their faith. Equating religion with "belief" is a modern western aberration. Like swimming or driving, religious knowledge is practically acquired. You learn only by doing. The ancient rituals of the hajj, which Arabs performed for centuries before Islam, have helped pilgrims to form habits of heart and mind that – pace the western stereotype – are non-violent and inclusive. -- Karen Armstrong

It is unfortunate that the Oklahomans were misled by the politicians to believe that Muslims were demanding Sharia law and that it was dangerous and must be gutted. They trusted their representatives and passed the referendum to ban Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic law to resolve personal matters between individuals. When a conflict arises between family members, before you sue each other, you seek guidance from other family members, friends, church and the counselors. If you don't find a solution, you go to the court as a last resort. The court may appoint a mediator if the parties are willing to abide by the decisions or simply take it up with the bench or the jury. -- Mike Ghouse

So much is said and written about Islamophobia. It’s a tendency found in some non-Muslims, especially in the West, who question and discriminate against ‘Muslim attire’ and beliefs. But those who speak the loudest against Islamophobia have very little to say about a social illness that is haunting their own societies: religiomania. Religiomania also constitutes a myopic fixation to preach; it engulfs many from the generic Maulvis to those belonging to large outfits like the Tableeghi Jamaat and Dawat-i-Islami, the ever-growing number of Islamic televangelists, and all the way to those who just can’t help but roll out numerous emails and text messages on the subject on a daily bases. We will wail, moan and whine about Islamophobia in the West, but keep mum over the discrimination and hatred that take place by Muslims against other religions as well as between and within Muslim sects in this country. -- Nadeem F. Paracha

In a recent article remembering slain governor of Pakistani Punjab Salman Taseer, Pakistani intellectual Pervez Hoodbhoy writes: To understand the kind of psychological conditioning that has turned us into nasty brutes, cruel both to ourselves and to others, I suggest that the reader sample some of the Friday khutbas (sermons) delivered across the country’s estimated 250,000 mosques. It is surely impossible to hear all khutbas, but a few hundred ones have been recorded on tape by researchers, transcribed into Urdu, translated into English, and categorised by subject at www.mashalbooks.org. Since there was no conscious bias in selecting the mosques, they can be reasonably assumed to be representative examples. Often using abusive language, the mullahs excoriate their enemies: America, India, Israel, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Shias, and Qadianis. Before appreciative crowds, they breathe fire against the enemies of Islam and modernity. Music is condemned to be evil, together with life insurance and bank interest. In frenzied speeches they put women at the centre of all ills, demand that they be confined to the home, covered in purdah, and forbidden to use lipstick or go to beauty parlours. But the harshest words are reserved for the countless “deviant” Muslims.

New Age Islam presents one such Friday sermon, one of the 2,50,000 delivered every Friday from mosques in Pakistan and amplified through loud speakers to grateful listeners, in English and Urdu and with a link to the audio courtesy Mashal Books.

Muslims from all over the world face the worst of treatments in America. Each one of them is a potential terrorist in the eyes of security officials. It seems that the primary reason for insulting Abdul Kalam is that he is a Muslim — and what he went through Shah Rukh Khan also had to face a couple of years ago. He had to take off his jacket and shoes even when he was India’s president. While Muslims bear the brunt, others from our part of the world are also treated brusquely. Even Hardeep Singh Puri, our ambassador to the UN, had to go through the body search and what not. -- Kuldip Nayar

We in the Muslim American community have been battling the corrupt and bankrupt ideas of cults such as Al Qaeda. Now it seems we also have to battle pseudo-experts in the FBI and the Department of Justice. A disturbing string of training material used by the FBI and a U.S. attorney's office came to light beginning in late July that reveals a deep anti-Muslim sentiment within the U.S. government. If this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community — another example of the ineptitude and/or apathy undermining bridges built with care over decades. It is not enough to just call it a "very valid concern," as FBI Director Robert Mueller told a congressional committee this month. Wired also found a 2010 presentation by an analyst working for the U.S. attorney's office in Pennsylvania that warns of a " 'Civilization Jihad' stretching back from the dawn of Islam and waged today in the U.S. by 'civilians, juries, lawyers, media, academia and charities' who threaten 'our values.' The goal of that war: 'Replacement of American Judeo-Christian and Western liberal social, political and religious foundations by Islam.' "-- Salam Al-Marayati

SO far, so predictable. The fire-bombing of the offices of a French satirical weekly after it printed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has, once again, led to dire warnings that European Muslims are determined to destroy western civilisation, curb the fundamental right to free speech and impose the Sharia across the continent. French politicians have been unanimous in defending freedom of speech and said perpetrators of the crime will be punished. French Muslims have been equally vocal in denouncing the attack — but also clearly angry at what they view as yet another attempt to insult Islam and Muslims. “For many French Muslims, religion has become a cultural identity, a refuge in a troubled society where they don’t feel accepted,” French journalist Pierre Haski wrote in the Guardian. “And when a satirical magazine makes fun of Islam the way it would make fun of any other issue, French Muslims don’t laugh. Most of them are silently angry or indifferent, but a minority feels empowered to resort to violence. A disturbing reminder of the underground tensions in society,” Haski said. -- Shada Islam

While the world changed so did the quiet lives of Muslim Americans. There were many assaults, mosque vandalism, and protests against Muslims but the first fatal backlash occurred in on September 15, 2001 when Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, was murdered in Arizona. It was a sign of things to come. In a recent PEW survey, forty-three percent of Muslim Americans had personally experienced harassment in the past year and another 52 two per cent said their community has been profiled by the government for surveillance on terrorist activities. “So why are we singled out to that degree? As an individual if I don’t break any laws then the government should be able to respect my rights, right?” -- Sadef A. Kully

 

Take Patrick Sookhdeo, a Christian pastor who reinvented himself as a terrorism expert after 9/11. He is quoted approvingly four times in the 1,500-page "manifesto" of the Norwegian killer Anders Breivik. Why? Sookhdeo has dismissed the "myth of moderate Islam", says Islam is a "religion and political ideology that puts our British way of life in grave danger" and believes "everything about the west is inimical to Islam". In fact, Sookhdeo's book, Global Jihad, is on a recommended reading list for the UK Defence Academy's higher command and staff course 2011. The pastor himself has been used by the MoD to give "higher level training" to British military commanders preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. It is easy to blame crude, anti-Islam propagandists like Sookhdeo and Spencer for the increasing levels of alienation, disillusionment and distrust inside Muslim communities across the west. But the real question is why have the US and UK governments given such influence to preachers of hate and division? Whatever happened to winning hearts and minds? -- Mehdi Hasan

 

The broad spectrum of preachers of hate that include politicians, media commentators, Christian Zionist ministers, and biased media and internet sites exploit legitimate concerns about domestic security and engage in a fear-mongering that conflates Islam and the majority of Muslims with a small but deadly minority of militants. The Gallup World Poll revealed that 57% of Americans when asked what they admired about Islam said “nothing” or “I don’t know.” So. too, a Washington Post poll revealed that a shocking 49% of Americans view Islam unfavourably. In contrast to the charges that Muslims cannot integrate and cannot be loyal citizens, a major Pew Research Center study (2007) found that most Muslim Americans are “decidedly American” in income, education and attitudes, rejecting extremism by larger margins than Muslim minorities in Europe, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/483/muslim-americans Similarly, a 2009 Gallup report found that 70% of Muslim Americans have a job compared with 64% of the US population. Muslim men have one of the highest employment rates of religious groups. After Jews, Muslims are the most educated religious community in the US. Muslim women are as likely as their male counterparts to have a college degree or higher. 40% of women have a college degree as compared to 29% of Americans overall. -- John Esposito

A mad Norwegian called Breivik soaked up a lot of hate literature on Muslim immigrants and Islam as faith, then sat down and wrote 15,000 words of more hate before killing scores of fellow-Norwegians. This is called Islamophobia and there are many honest Europeans who condemn it more vehemently as a challenge to European civilisation than we can as Muslims with our own prejudices. The truth is that Muslim refusal to integrate has resulted in closed ethnic neighbourhoods, high crime rates in Muslim communities, calls for use of Sharia law in Europe and the wearing of the veil. Muslim scholar at Oxford University Tariq Ramadan says: “Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor.” -- Khaled Ahmed

Many of us berate growing Islamophobia in Europe and other parts of the world. But listen to this Imam (prayer-leader) respectfully appointed an Imam by Norwegian Muslims. He claims that all revered Muslim fuqaha (experts in fiqh or, Islamic jurisprudence,) are agreed that those who fail to observe fast in Ramazan should be beheaded in an Islamic State. We also know that many Muslims are campaigning for implementation of Shariah laws (codified by the fuqaha). It should not be difficult to see what kind of fear of Islam such videos on top of daily reports of suicide bombing of Muslims killing Muslims must generate. But even more than engendering fear in the minds of non-Muslims in the West, it creates fear in the minds of Muslims, particularly those living in so-called Islamic states. – Editor, New Age Islam

 

By midday, pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a “jihadist” motivation behind the attacks. But by the next morning it was clear that the attacker was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim, but rather a self-described Christian conservative. These pundits and bloggers, however, are not the only members of the Islamophobia infrastructure. Breivik’s manifesto also cites think tanks, such as the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Forum, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism—three other organizations we profile in this report. Together, this core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran. This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States. Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years.-- Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang , Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir

 

For the first time, the fear-mongering and hate-preaching of US Islamophobes – and their funding – have been exposed. We've defined Islamophobia as the following: an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalisation and exclusion of Muslims from America's social, political and civic life. This fear-mongering rhetoric negatively affects our fellow Muslim American citizens and portrays them as perpetual hostile suspects, instead of our neighbours and allies. History has taught us that what's happening to Muslim Americans right now is simply a remake. In the past, the characters were Jews, Irish Catholics, Japanese Americans and gays and lesbians. But America, despite sadly succumbing to hysteria in moments past, eventually – and sometimes grudgingly – tends to regain its moral compass and strive to become a nation resilient to fear and scapegoating. -- Wajahat Ali

 

Some viewer comments: NO Where among Christians or Jews is there a desire to enforce the Laws of ancient Israel. Islamic Jihad calls for the overthrow of democracy to institute Shariah law. YOU educate yourself! ---  What I am saying is: yes, if you criticize a faith that you don’t completely understand, and if u call the ones flowing it "crazy" then that just makes u look like a red neck...sorry for the southern (scapegoat) reference. ---It’s funny how Islam has become the new scapegoat for politics and media centers then to make matters worse; the skewed information is then released to the public as truth. Now when we watch the news, it’s like looking at a talking Wikipedia page. The extremists (of any faith) are guilty of skewing facts, but they are the ones given the microphone, and the uneducated ones see it as truth.  ChristoFacism is the litmus test to see who is eligible to reside in the good ole U.S.A... Some Viewers Comments

 

Whatever the merits of Swamy’s comments on Muslims may be, the book clearly indicates that votaries of Hindutva are fiercely committed to a nauseatingly Brahminical view of Indian society, culture and history. The danger they pose not just to Muslims but also to the oppressed castes, historical victims of the Hindu order, who form almost half of India’s population, is enormous,.... As for non-Hindu Indians, specifically Christians and Muslims, Swamy controversially contends that most of them are offspring of Hindus who were, so he alleges, forcibly converted to the religions of conquerors. Hence, if they were to reconvert to Hinduism or at least were to recognize and take pride in the supposed Hindu-ness of their ancestors, they could be taken to be part of the Hindu or Indian ‘nation’. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Many ideologues of religious nationalism have come out with outpourings associating the religion Islam and so Muslims with terrorism and the need to confront this attack of terror by uniting as Hindus, voting a Hindu party, taking away the citizenship rights of Muslims, and declaring India as a Hindu nation (Subramanian Swamy 16/7, 2011). Swamy says the terrorism is an attack of Islam on Hinduism. Islam wants to take over India. While being put forward in a brusque and blunt fashion, there is nothing new about his article, as this is precisely the agenda for which RSS combine has been working and spreading the ‘Hate politics’ in India. The political ideology making Hinduism as its political base, the Sangh Parivar, has been propagating this from close to a century by now. And to add to this the US propaganda, US media coining the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ has added further grist to the mil of hatred. We cannot forget the investigations done by Hemant Karkare, who meticulously unearthed the link from Pragya Singh Thakur to Aseemamand to Indresh Kumar, the RSS functionary. -- Ram Puniyani

Advocating a hard-hitting approach to the phenomenon of Muslim extremism and urging the Hindus to take to militant Hindutva-style politics, the former Union Cabinet Minister and President of the Janata Party can safely be said to represent the convictions of a sizeable section of middle-class, ‘modern’-educated ‘upper’ caste Hindus, who, despite the thin veneer of Western ‘liberalism’ that they sport, are deeply wedded to the pernicious doctrine of Brahminical supremacism in the guise of Hindutva. Swamy’s article is full of gaping holes, gross exaggerations, unfounded claims and downright lies. In this way, it conveniently denies the undeniable reality of terror engaged in by Hindu groups (including Hindu mobs) that, since 1947, has taken a much heavier toll of innocent lives (mainly of Muslims but also of Dalits) than has the terror resorted to by fringe Muslim groups in India in recent years. ….. promoting Brahminical supremacy in another way—by maintaining a deafening silence on the enormous and rapidly mounting caste-class contradictions within the so-called ‘Hindu community’ and the daily violence to which Dalits and other oppressed caste-groups are subjected to by caste Hindus. -- Yoginder Sikand, NewAgIslam.com

Global Islamophobia differs from older forms of racism in that it does not only aim simply to force cultural minorities to assimilate or to curtail their movement and arrival on our beaches and at our border posts. Rather it offers a fundamental critique of liberal democracy itself and questions whether Western governments can ever manage globalisation, immigration and cultural difference. The Oslo massacre shows the clear imprint of a global Islamophobia, a revanchist nationalist ideology that has gained popularity in many parts of the contemporary West – particularly in parts of Europe that traditionally were bastions of liberalism and tolerance, such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and is expressed with varying degrees of fanaticism. -- George Morgan

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