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Muslims and Islamophobia

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

THE carnage in Norway last Friday shocked the world’s conscience. It has also posed some extremely tough questions for European societies, the world’s Muslims in general, and the people of Pakistan in particular. Europe will do itself and the world at large great injustice and harm if it dismisses the matter as the isolated work of a deranged mind. It must look deep into the factors that led to Anders Behring Breivik’s reliance on perverted intelligence. The people of Pakistan have to do more soul-searching than others because Breivik has blamed this country as the cause of his heinous crime. -- I.A Rehman

 

What is evident in the aftermath of the Norway attacks that there is a definite attempt to polarize the world into Muslims and Christians and to be followed by many other groups...  Democracy with its Utopian ideas and values was the brainchild of the West but why does the West want to fall back upon the Dark Age once again perplexes many of us. Probably the powers who want to control the destiny of this world want to bring about this polarization so that they can convince their population and justify their invasion of the Arabs and their land. They can further claim that this is done to free them from evil and it’s an operation directed by God himself. -- Dr. Shabbir Thingna, al-Bisha

 

It is not enough to say he is mad. Anders Breivik is patently mad: no one in their right mind would behave as he has done. Nor is it enough to say that he is evil. If the word evil has any meaning at all, then it must obviously apply to a man who can go to a lake island summer camp, call innocent young people to run towards him – and then shoot 85 of them with an automatic rifle. We will never be satisfied with simple words like “mad” or “evil”, and for the days and weeks ahead we can expect exhaustive psychoanalysis of this dreary and supercilious 32-year-old sicko. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males. -- Boris Johnson

 

The venom spewing article of Subramanian Swamy, lone leader and President of Janta Party has not only hurt minorities but all the secularists of the country. That is why non-Muslim more than the Muslim scholars, Journalists and writers have lodged their displeasure and discontent with his article. They have demanded action from the government against Mr Swamy. Mr Swamy‘s article exploded like a bomb on the peaceful environment of the country. If this live bomb is not defused it is going to be very dangerous for the secularism and peace of the county. Taking the article in question as a mad man’s utterances, can be ignored too, but by doing so there is a danger of encouraging those anti-social elements that are always ready to ignite Hindu-Muslim violence.-- Suhail Anjum (Translated from Urdu by: Arman Neyazi, NewAgeIslam.com)

 The atrocity committed this week by the Norwegian neo-Nazi — is it an isolated incident? Right-wing extremists all over Europe and the US are already declaiming in unison: “He does not belong to us! He is just a lone individual with a deranged mind! There are crazy people everywhere! You cannot condemn a whole political camp for the deeds of one single person!” When I first heard the news about the Oslo outrage, I was afraid that the perpetrators might be some crazy Muslims. The repercussions would have been terrible. Fortunately, the actual mass-murderer surrendered at the scene of the crime. He is the prototype of a Nazi anti-Semite of the new wave. His creed consists of white supremacy, Christian fundamentalism, hatred of democracy and European chauvinism, mixed with a virulent hatred of Muslims.-- Uri Avnery

‎"The primary threat to democracy in Europe is not "Islamo-fascism" -- that clunking, thuggish phrase that keeps lashing out in the hope that it will one day strike a meaning -- but plain old fascism. The kind whereby mostly white Europeans take to the streets to terrorize minorities in the name of racial, cultural or religious superiority,…. The Norway massacre of July 2011 is indeed Fascism with thick overlays of Racism and Xenophobia. It is also well documented in India where not only government agencies but also the common people – driven by the ceaseless propaganda by the Bharatiya Janata party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, lapped up eagerly by our Hindi and English language TV Channels -- keep track of all things “suspicious” in their neighbourhood. -- John Dayal

Breveik is an extreme rightwing Christian who hates Muslims. About the UPA government he says that it tries to please Muslims at any cost. He praises those Hindu organisations, in his manifesto, who do not tolerate this injustice. He writes, “When situation gets out of control they attack Muslims”. But he denounces this strategy and asks to target the traitors and form militant groups for toppling the multiculturalist government.  “We, (Breiviks and Hindu Fundamentalist Organisations) should cooperate with and learn from each other because our objective is the same.” He quotes two Indian historians, S Lal and Shri Nandan Vyas regarding the danger Europe has from the Muslims. He has advocated medal as, ‘Liberation of India Service Medal’ to the people who will help chase Muslims out of the country. Breivik had got the logo for his organisation made in Varanasi, an Indian city.-- Suhail Haleem (Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi, NewAgeIslam.com)

You see, it is politically incorrect to call faith-driven violence despicable without first cursing the awful things that makes a nut a nut. It is ironic that most of these awful things may as well be exactly the things that a politically correct person is also indulging in. For example, in Pakistan, on the eve of a terrorist attack by a Muslim fanatic, the politically-correct, progressive and conscientious person is obliged to first blame western imperialism, then the drone attacks. Then he goes to have a Big Mac. Of course, by then he usually forgets to also issue at least a token condemnation of the death and destruction caused by the religious nuts. The bottom-line is there are now more religious fanatics willing to go on murderous killing sprees in the world because they are more tolerated in the society than ever. Nations are just too busy navel gazing about airy-fairy abstract concepts about spirituality and political-correctness that have nothing to do with the twisted images that pollute a religious fanatic’s head. Such spineless post-modernist behaviour actually ends up (indirectly) justifying a fanatic’s mad existence. -- Nadeem F. Paracha

The killings in Norway are indeed a wake-up call. It is time for Western Muslims to stand up, to be vocal and to refuse to be treated as second-class citizens. Instead of seeing themselves as the victims, instead of marginalizing themselves, they should be an integral part of mainstream social, political and economic debates. Islam is a Western religion, that’s a fact. The issue of immigration is another discussion, one that requires a vision for the future. No Western country can survive and prosper without the support of new and young immigrants in the work force. It is clearly not by pandering to fears that the problem is going to be solved. A climate of fear would only lead to isolation and /or fragmentation within the society, and eventually to violent and extremist behaviour.  The choice is ours: we can use wisdom, or become (explicitly or implicitly) populists. Some intellectuals can make a name for themselves; politicians can win the next election by surfing on people’s fears and sense of loss. But they will surely be forgotten by History. Others are prepared to face prejudices, racism and xenophobia with courage and commitment. -- Tariq Ramadan

Prove your innocence — if you are a Muslim, because the media and the police believe Muslims are guilty by default. Terror intimidates Muslims more than anyone else on earth. After any terrorist activity, inside their houses, Muslims try to put fingers into their ears so as not to hear the phrase: “another act of Muslim terror”. Blaming the jihadists, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Norway is targeted for being true to western norms.” Meanwhile, on The Washington Post’s website, Jennifer Rubin wrote, “This is a sobering reminder for those who think it is too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.” Altogether the instant reaction to the incident, without any pursuance of proof or evidence, was that Muslim terror must be responsible for the attack. -- Shahidur Rashid Talukdar

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