Muslims and Islamophobia
Even as its leader Geert Wilders is being tried for inciting hatred, he is shamelessly wooed by the Liberals and the Christian Democrats to prop up a minority coalition government. In return, they are willing to pay the price he is demanding: a ban on burqa and stringent curbs on immigration. No wonder, Mr. Wilders boasted that the development was a sign of a “new wind” blowing in the Netherlands and proof that voters supported his party's determination to stop “Islamisation” of the country.
Immigrants like Mr. Benali say they find their country's transformation from a haven of tolerance and multiculturalism into a hothouse of prejudice and social tensions shocking. “In the 1980s, this message [‘stop Islamisation'] would have made people laugh, but not now. Look around. In Sweden, the debate around Islam and migration is growing in urgency. And Islam is just a particularly toxic element in the anti-immigrant movement. Nicolas Sarkozy, who is part Jewish, is throwing out the Roma. In Germany, the country of the Holocaust, a former head of the Bundesbank, Thilo Sarazzin, is making a plea for reducing working class immigrants because of their low IQ. The idea that Europe is being kidnapped by an ever-growing non-western population is creating fear and populist parties are winning,” Mr. Benali warned, writing in The Observer. Tellingly, the article was headed: “I migrated to Europe with hope. Now I feel nothing but dread.” In Sweden, hitherto seen as an “oasis of civility and openness,” the “neo-Nazi” Sweden Democrats party (SD) has, for the first time, won seats in Parliament in a development that has shocked liberals. The country's political map is being redrawn in a way few Swedes could have once imagined. -- Hasan Suroor
Followers of these movements against Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese and other immigrants were mostly decent, well-meaning people trying to protect their country. But they were manipulated by demagogues playing upon their fears — the 19th- and 20th-century equivalents of Glenn Beck. Most Americans stayed on the sidelines during these spasms of bigotry, and only a small number of hoodlums killed or tormented Catholics, Mormons or others. But the assaults were possible because so many middle-of-the-road Americans were ambivalent....
Perhaps the closest parallel to today’s hysteria about Islam is the 19th-century fear spread by the Know Nothing movement about “the Catholic menace.” One book warned that Catholicism was “the primary source” of all of America’s misfortunes, and there were whispering campaigns that presidents including Martin Van Buren and William McKinley were secretly working with the pope. Does that sound familiar? Critics warned that the pope was plotting to snatch the Mississippi Valley and secretly conspiring to overthrow American democracy. “Rome looks with wistful eye to domination of this broad land, a magnificent seat for a sovereign pontiff,” one writer cautioned. -- Nicholas D. Kristof
AS CONTROVERSY over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan takes up more and more airtime in the US, the arguments deployed by both sides have become ever more narrow. On the one hand, those defending the proposed Islamic centre talk about the threat of anti-Muslim prejudice to constitutional freedoms, while at the same time endangering efforts to promote the kind of “moderate” Islam represented by its director, a New Age sufi called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. On the other hand, pleas for Muslims and all those backing the project to heed American “sensitivities” are coupled with dark hints about Rauf’s true intentions, sources of funding and indeed the problem represented by Islam itself in the West. Although this public debate generates an enormous number of new facts, interpretations and other details every day, these are all squeezed into a shrinking circuit of concepts and categories, very few of which are able to address the controversy’s larger and more lasting implications.-- Faisal Devji
The word “Islamophobia” began to appear only in the 1980s. While it is a recently coined term, it refers to a history of fear and hatred of Muslims in the West that has had a long time to become implanted in our collective psyche. Its roots can be traced to the fourth century when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. After suffering centuries of bloody persecution under pagan Roman authority, Christians suddenly became privileged citizens of the empire. Many leaders of the Church considered the sea-change a divine sign of the absolute truth of their religion, that historical success proves theological truth. It was a zero-sum view of the world: “Truth is with us. All else is falsehood.” -- Reuven Firestone
Let's just be frank. The demonization of Islam as a religion and of its adherents as individuals has reached the level of hysteria within the United States. Although the fear of Muslims is usually cloaked in condescension or indignation, the source of this most recent version of bigotry is transparent and utterly predictable. There must be a nameless, faceless, sinister "other" upon whom we can hang our deepest anxieties and frustrations as a people. This kind of paranoia is not unique, but as its perpetrators on right-wing radio, FOX "News" and the far-right blogosphere can attest, it still works like a charm. -- Cynthia Boaz
Neil Berry is right to fear for his country, particularly its Muslim residents “the upshot of a fresh outbreak of Islamist violence in Britain at a time of acute unease.” In an article posted below, courtesy Khaleej Times, he writes: “Increasingly, young British Muslims have felt that they are being systematically targeted by the security services, and the introduction of spy cameras can only sharpen their sense of Britain as a police state with contempt for Muslim civil liberties. ... it is possible to feel that British state’s discriminatory approach to dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism is in danger of defeating its own object by exacerbating Muslim alienation and inciting the very Islamic radicalism it is meant to pre-empt.”
British government’s approach may be discriminatory and faulty but what is most worrisome is that Berry has nothing to say about the attitude of the British Muslims themselves. Barring some individuals they are doing next to nothing to fight Islamic radicalism and forestall the next 7/7 whose fallout they should know would decidedly be worse than that of the original incident. They have not yet even accepted the fact that it is they, who acted as the original incubator of Islamic radicalism in late 1970s and ‘80s and so need to do something to stem the rot. Indeed they owe it not only to themselves but to the world at large. Originally inspired by Saudi-exported Petro-dollar Islam and then by Pakistani military dictator General Ziaul Haq’s “Nizam-e-Mustafa”, they organised meetings and international conferences, even so-called Muslim parliaments, to host militants and radicals from around the world to instigate their own youth to take to extremism and obscurantism. Omar Bakri Muhammad-led Al-Muhajiroun could not have succeeded in alienating an entire generation of Muslim youths from the mainstream of British society without popular support from British Muslims themselves.
Media and civil society’s job doesn’t finish with criticising the government of the day: they should also point to the follies and worse of the citizenry, more so in a democracy, in which politicians many a time desist from doing the right thing to curry favour with their vote-banks. British governments, both labour and conservative, have been guilty on this count. Islamic radicalism could probably have been nipped in the bud had they acted in 1970s and ‘80s. By 17 August 1988, the date on which Pakistan President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq passed away, it was already too late. Al-Muhajiroun was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 only as recently as 14 January 2010, though an intention to ban was announced in August 2005. Some other similar organisations were banned in 1906. London woke up from its sweet slumber only when the group organised its notorious conference "The Magnificent 19", praising the September 11, 2001 attacks. Bakri himself was allowed to spread his poison till 12 August 2005.
David Cameron’s government may be following a policy that could be “exacerbating Muslim alienation and inciting the very Islamic radicalism it is meant to pre-empt”. But the alienation and radicalism themselves are the British Muslims’ own creation. The very idea of “pre-empting” them now is laughable. Apparently Berry has not lived in the United Kingdom or probably on this planet for several decades. Or do the journalists too have a constituency to appease?
Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam
The image of Rima Fakih, the first Muslim Miss USA, blowing kisses into the air last Sunday has knocked the wind out of the sails of many an Islamophobe and Islamist alike. Isn’t she supposed to be wearing a burqa? Isn’t she supposed to be blowing bombs? And most importantly, isn’t she supposed to be aching for felafel rather than pizza?
Fakih’s blatant betrayal of the stereotypes, the supposed-to-be’s, has sparked bewilderment on the blogosphere. Islamophobes view it as the clearest evidence yet of the liberal/Islamic conspiracy to take over the US, while Islamists are dismayed by the extent to which Satanic influences have profanated the piety of Muslims, particularly those who have made the West their home. -- Saif Shahin
Photo: Miss USA Rima Fakih
Editor, NewAgeIslam.com, Sultan Shahin's oral statement to the current Thirteenth session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 16 March, 2010:
I would like to confine myself to reflecting on the problems of religious minorities, particularly Muslim minorities who are facing xenophobia and related forms of intolerance today in an atmosphere of widespread Islamophobia. We Muslims are also complaining of an attempt to encourage Islamophobia. The French ban on veils and Swiss ban on minarets has further vitiated the atmosphere. We do not know for sure how much of this is deliberate as a sort of anti-Islam crusade as we Muslims allege and how much is a paranoid reaction to growing radicalism, extremism and exclusivism in Islamic societies.
But I find a note of introspection on the part of us Muslims and Muslim governments completely missing in the continuing debate. I intend to do precisely that today. While we Muslims demand, and rightly so, the freedom to freely practise and propagate our religion in the non-Muslim majority countries, we do not seem to worry about the plight of religious minorities living in Muslim-majority lands.
Contribution of Petrodollar Islam
That Muslim societies in general have radicalised over the last decades cannot be denied. This has been a direct result of tens of billions of petrodollars having been spent in promoting a rigid, obscurantist, desiccated version of Islam, shorn of all its beauty and bounty. Preachers of what I can only call “petrodollar Islam” have gone around the world asking Muslims to develop a separate identity that distinguishes them not only in the practice of Islamic prayer rituals but also looks and apparel. The phenomenal rise in Muslim women wearing hijab and an assortment of veils or men growing what is called an Islamic beard is no accident.
Discrimination against religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries has grown. Anti-blasphemy laws, for instance, have been routinely used to harass and commit acts of violence against religious minorities. The Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, mentioned the case of Christians and the minority Muslim sect of Ahmadis who are continually harassed on baseless allegations of blasphemy in Pakistan despite the government’s stated commitment to fulfil its international obligations. -- Sultan Shahin
Jim McConalogue’s write-up is a not-so extreme example of the Islamophobia sweeping Europe. I came across several Europeans during my recent three-week tour of Switzerland, Sweden and United Kingdom who expressed similar fears of Islam and Muslims. I attended several seminars dealing with the subject in which lay public took a great deal of interest, though, of course, not all were as fearful of what Islam and Muslims are going to do to their beautiful lands and their culture of freedom and tolerance of all views and lifestyles. Views expressed in this article may be distasteful to many readers of New Age Islam, but I think it is important for us to be aware of what many in the West and indeed other parts of the world are thinking of us. This article is also important as it gives a scholarly account of the backdrop in which Islam is being discussed in Europe. -- Editor
I will restate, reiterate and paraphrase what I have already said on this matter over the past four or five years: the Islamic jihadists are clearly winning their battle over the British people. In the UK, the Labour government has shown that it is more than willing to jeopardise national security in favour of its oppressive multicultural agenda. Violent Muslims – a hotchpotch of infantile soul-searching converts, theocratic barbarians and permanently incensed and uneducated nobodies – who are supposed to be living as British citizens are intending to kill the people they live among. Clearly, the British multicultural project is failing to such a degree that citizens not only possess a visceral hatred of one another but they are now at war with one another...
The creed of Islam, supported by its jihadist interpretation, cannot be supported by the British multicultural programme – perhaps, more to the point, we may have arrived at that point that we must now face that our multicultural programme can no longer afford this Islamic deviancy. Unlike other valuable and rich cultures and religions that integrate successfully, modern Islam seems steadfast in its principles of war and violence. Islam carries with it a powerful political and religious history. This violence, which the editor of The Asian Age, M. J. Akbar, once called the “Medina Syndrome,” imparts the belief that Islam is under such a significant threat from its enemies that its only response is to be gripped by collective unity, faith, violence and war." -- Jim McConalogue
Islamophobes have been popularizing the claim that "not all Muslims are terrorists, but (nearly) all terrorists are Muslims." Despite this idea becoming axiomatic in some circles, it is quite simply not factual. In my previous article entitled "All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren't", I used official FBI records to show that only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by Islamic extremists. The remaining 94% were from other groups (42% from Latinos, 24% from extreme left wing groups, 7% from extremist Jews, 5% from communists, and 16% from all other groups). – Danios
Photo: Europol releases an annual study of terrorism; the results do not support claims that "(nearly) all Muslims are terrorists"
Nearly everyone in Killeen who interacted with Hasan considered him a mystery, and his actions became more confounding as October turned to November.
Why was an Army psychiatrist, instead of helping soldiers, obsessing over charging them with war crimes?
Why was a conservative Muslim going to the Starz strip club on the nights of Oct. 28 and 29, spending seven hours each night sitting alone at a round table near the stage, handing out Bud Lights and generous tips to each dancer and then buying a series of fully nude private lap dances that cost $50 each?
Why was an Army officer eschewing the shooting range at Fort Hood to drive 35 miles into the central Texas flatlands on Nov. 3 and take his target practice at Stan's Outdoor Shooting Range, where bullets sometimes ricocheted off square targets and hit cars?
Why, on the morning of Nov. 5, were witnesses seeing Hasan hand out copies of the Koran, give away his groceries, issue a warning at 7-Eleven, report to work, stand on a table, shout "Allahu Akbar" and wave two guns inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Centre?
Then Hasan allegedly opened fire, and suddenly the questions became clues, and the clues began to make horrifying sense. -- Eli Saslow, Philip Rucker, William Wan and Mary Pat Flaherty
'Minaret ban reminiscent of wars of Middle Ages'
European rabbis condemn Swiss minaret ban
Religious Leaders Slam Swiss Minaret Ban
Minaret Ban - Muslim Scholars Urge Swiss Muslims to Remain Calm
Turkey regrets 'rise in Islamophobia'
Indonesia says Swiss minaret ban obstacle to interfaith harmony
Photo: Mosque in Aswan, Egypt, with minarets - Wikipedia
Jewish leader says Swiss vote shows Europe's growing anti-Muslim views
Ban on minaret construction in Switzerland to raise tensions with Muslim world: analyst
Minaret ban 'a security risk' - Swiss minister
Minaret ban 'conflicts with human rights'
The Call From the Swiss Minaret
Pakistan raps Swiss minaret ban
Turkey says Swiss ban violates freedoms
Switzerland minaret ban condemned
Switzerland Faces 'Security Risk' after Voters Endorse Minaret Ban
Turkish president criticizes minaret vote in Switzerland
Iran condemns Swiss minaret ban
UN condemns Swiss minaret ban
Islam In Europe: Swiss Votes To Ban Minarets
Rightwing rejects parallel Muslim society
Perhaps what is needed, in the penal institutions, police forces, correctional offices, FBI, Homeland Security and the military, is sensitivity training and general educational classes about Muslim beliefs and culture. If not, the popular belief will be that all Muslims are potential enemies of America and dangerous. There are many Islamic groups and organizations that are trying to educate the public about what Muslims believe and what their faith represents.
But we must be strong enough to Fight for The Soul of Islam and not allow the enemies of Islam to use a tactic as old as warfare itself; it's called divide and conquer. -- A. Akbar Muhammad
AI condemns Islamophobic Swiss vote
The Islamophobe Quartet of the USA
Islamophobe quartet in bitter unison
British Terrorism Against Muslim Minority: Islamophobic attack on Muslim students
Daniel Pipes, Islam 2.0 and Islamophobia 3.0
Barbara Kay: Toxic classrooms
Photo: Jamaat-e-Islami hold a protest in Pakistan. The party stated that this ban 'reflects extreme Islamophobia among people in the West.'
In the case of Muslims doing bad things, it is always their religious identity that defines them first and only secondly any additional factors like for instance, insanity. The irony of this is: such constructions of Muslim identity that insist on an inherent lack of compatibility between being Muslim and anything else have been coined by the very enemies against whom the war on terror is being fought. It is the ilk of Al Qaeda that insist that being a Muslim precludes allegiance to all other forms of identity. The obstinacy with which Maj Hassan Nidal is being identified as Muslim first and insane and psychologically impaired second is one illustration of the entrenchment of this presumption among American conservatives who are at the forefront of fighting Al Qaeda.
The point is not to exonerate the horrific things Maj Nidal Hassan and others have done. The prisons of the world are testaments to the limitless cruelty of the insane and psychologically twisted. The nature of insanity is that there are no rational reasons that can be found to explain substantive motivations. The reality of identity is that many forms of it exist not in ordered ranks of first, second or third, but rather in coexistence, where individuals can have many allegiances side by side.
Muslim criminals like those belonging to any other faith are cruel, self-centred and opportunistic but to say that their deeds are related to their faith is to misunderstand both the nature of identity and insanity. -- Rafia Zakaria
The shock waves created in the Muslim community by the marriage of a Muslim girl with a Hindu boy in the educational hub Hyderabad had yet not settled down, that the RSS ideologues and policy-makers have again acted upon their ugly plan of victimizing Muslim youths. They have continued on their mission of spreading communal hatred and enmity among different communities. They are trying to defame Muslim youths of Kerala by provoking and levelling wrong accusations against them. The young generation of Muslims in Kerala is quite religious-minded. They spare some time from their busy schedule for religious activities. It is producing better results as well, but the evil-minded people depreciate even a cultured and social activity that is beneficial for everyone. The Organizer, a mouth-piece of RSS is spreading venomous ideas among the masses against Muslim students’ organization of Kerala through its latest edition. You can see the translation of a news item published in Hindi newspapers which can reveal the ugly design of thinking of communal mentality. -- Editor, Jadeed Khabar, Delhi, introducing an editorial in Hindi daily Jana Satta reproduced below. Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami
Constitutional test of Islam looms
Muslims reach out to county neighbours Offer a better view of Islam after shootings
Fort Hood massacre was clearly an act of terror
Fort Hood: Group: File 14th murder charge in Fort Hood massacre
Hasan's ties to radical cleric raise issues for law enforcement
Don't jump to conclusions on Fort Hood shootings
Islam bashing is fully justified, 100%
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a jiggle Jihadi
Hasan kept his inner life well-concealed
Red flags at Fort Hood
Army to probe whether it missed warning signs before Fort Hood massacre
Visiting Maj. Nidal Hasan's Hospital
Muslim soldiers: We love America, Troops speak out in the wake of base attack By Niraj Warikoo
What Does the Koran Say About Muslim Soldiers? by Aziz Poonawalla
A nation in fear of being seen as anti-Muslim By Ruth Dudley Edwards
Don't tiptoe around the words `Muslim' and `terrorism' By Frida Ghitis
We need to talk about Islam, now by Carol Hun
Of course, everyone knows that most terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe). Everyone also knows that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, and this is a Christian nation, which everyone knows the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law. The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong.
Islamophobia truly does not represent American values, and it doesn’t make us any safer. I pray that the voices of dialogue and reason prevail and drown out the voices that would tear us apart. By burning bridges with American Muslims we make me and my family, and all other Americans, less safe. It seems that any time a crime is committed by someone who is a Muslim, the rhetoric becomes more hysterical, and I really do wonder at what point American Muslims need to be afraid for our safety. I’m waiting to see some strong statements against this sort of religion baiting by interfaith groups. -- Sheila Musaji
It is of course Muslims, not Sikhs, who are today viewed as the undesirable hordes who have invaded America. There is something grotesque in the argument that the shooting of the Sikhs at the Oak Creek Gurdwara was a 'tragic mistake' : if it was a 'mistake', a deviation from the right path, how could it have been any better to have killed Muslims? The Oak Creek shooting raises so many profound questions, beyond those that have been raised about America's endless fascination with guns, the influence that the National Rifle Association exercises in American politics, and the country's subcultures of white supremacy.
Most Western analysts dogmatically deny that the Koran teaches violence and supremacism. Yet Muslims who believe this comprise a global movement, active from Indonesia to Nigeria and extending into Europe and North America, that is dedicated to waging war against "unbelievers" - that is, non-Muslims - and subjugating them as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law. This movement sees in the Koran its divine mandate to wage that war. In March 2009, five Muslims accused of helping plot the September 11 attacks, including the notorious Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, wrote an "Islamic Response to the Government's Nine Accusations."
In it they quote the Koran to justify their jihad war against the American Infidels. "In God's book," asserts the letter, "he ordered us to fight you everywhere we find you, even if you were inside the holiest of all holy cities, The Mosque in Mecca, and the holy city of Mecca, and even during sacred months.
In God's book, verse 9 [actually verse 5], Al-Tawbah [the Koran's 9th chapter]: Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush."
Osama bin Laden's communiqués have also quoted the Koran copiously. In his 1996 "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places," he quotes seven Koran verses: 3:145; 47:4-6; 2:154; 9:14; 47:19; 8:72; and the notorious "Verse of the Sword," 9:5.[i] Bin Laden began his October 6, 2002, letter to the American people with two Koran quotations, both of a martial bent: "Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory" (22:39) and "Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghut (anything worshipped other than Allah e.g. Satan). So fight you against the friends of Satan; ever feeble is indeed the plot of Satan" (4:76)." ...
Anyone who thinks that an agnostic such as I, or a Christian Arab-American for that matter (unless they are a Bible-thumping evangelical, perhaps, and probably not even then), are somehow immune from or even less affected by Islamophobia, anti-Arab defamation or discrimination on the basis of religious bigotry or ethnicity doesn't understand how these things work in the contemporary United States. I don't think there are very many people in the Arab-American community who have been called an Islamist, a jihadist, a supporter of terrorism, anti-American, radical, extremist, an anti-Semite, etc., more than I have been, or in a more public way. Most if not all of the people who have called me this in, for example, major newspapers, or on major television programs, have known very well that not only am I not any of those things, but that I am both agnostic in my religious opinions and secular in my political orientation. It doesn't matter one bit, of course, since it is our identity and our community, and not our actual opinions or activities, that are often under attack. -- Hussein Ibish
I would like to touch upon yet another important aspect of Islamophobia, the securitization of Islam and Muslims, especially after Sept. 11 and other tragic terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere. Islam and Muslims are usually singled out in the media and in political discourse which leads to the emergence of a sense of threat and fear. Muslims in Europe and elsewhere are viewed with suspicion because their beliefs are easily associated with violence and terrorism. The securitization of Islam erects a huge social barrier between Muslims and their European neighbours. The perceived Islamic threat leads to the profiling of Muslims, the restriction of civil liberties and the alienation of Muslims from the wider society through their withdrawal to a communitarian lifestyle. -- Talip Küçükcan