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Muslims and Islamophobia

In the European case, the decline of religion over the decades has been simultaneous with the damping of nationalist sentiment, though many times for good reason. It has unfortunately been replaced by an unsatisfying, often unpopular, elitist, and distant capitalist project, which is economically unnerving and therefore also culturally terrifying. The linking of the Muslim and the Jew as the enemy of Europe is neither uncommon, nor innocuous. It speaks to a sense of embattlement. With an estimated 76 dead, in a country whose population is both small and concentrated, consider how it would translate proportionally into America, a country many times its size: 4,700 dead. -- Haroon Moghul

 

WESTERN terrorism experts have faced considerable derision in the past few days for jumping to the conclusion, in the immediate aftermath of a bomb blast aimed at governmental offices in central Oslo last Friday, that Al Qaeda had once again picked a relatively soft target. Instead of pondering the possibility of a different source of violence, they generally devoted their mental energies to trying to figure out why violent Islamists would pick Norway as a target. Could it be a consequence of Norway’s minor involvement in Iraq and its continuing role in Afghanistan? After all, Ayman Al Zawahiri had on a couple of occasions threatened reprisals against the nation. Might it have something to do with the deportation proceedings against the Kurdish Islamist figure Mullah Krekar? Or the fact that a Norwegian newspaper reproduced the notorious Danish cartoons? Hey, if none of those explanations stood up to scrutiny, there was always Muammar Qadhafi’s threat of suicide bombings in Europe to avenge NATO’s bombing campaign in Libya, in which Norway has participated. -- Mahir Ali

Another Sangh pariwar leader VHP’s Vinod Bansal says: What the Norwegian killer says about appeasing Muslims is right.

Norway killer Breivik's Common cause with Hindu nationalists. Excerpts:

The only positive thing about the Hindu right wing is that they dominate the streets. They do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control, usually after the Muslims disrespect and degrade Hinduism too much. This behaviour is nonetheless counterproductive. Because instead of attacking the Muslims they should target the category A and B traitors in India and consolidate military cells and actively seek the overthrow of the cultural Marxist government.

India will continue to wither and die unless the Indian nationalists consolidate properly and strike to win. It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical. --  Anders Breivik’s manifesto

The implication that he develops is that Breivik’s actions can be attributed to those who for years have been trying to educate the public in the West about the threat posted to our values and way of life by the forces of radical Islam. Shane singles out — by virtue of Breivik having cited his writing 64 times in his manifesto — the writings of Robert Spencer at the website Jihad Watch [3], part of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, as well the work of “other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.” That sentence says it all: Unassimilated Muslim immigrants in Europe, people who do not accept the laws and standards of the nations to which they have immigrated and who consider themselves proponents of both jihad and sharia law, are not a danger. Instead, the danger comes from those who point out the uncomfortable truths that many dare not face.-- Ron Radosh

To Carlson, this proves Poland is "an island of profamily values" amid the tides of "Christo-phobic" "population-control types" who dominate the rest of the continent. Poland, he says, could provide an important counterbalance to European modernity and become a launching point for "a profamily resistance," and thereby "save Europe again": a not-so-coded reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683, where Polish King John III Sobieski led a "Holy League" army of Christian soldiers against the Ottoman Empire, culminating in a decisive victory for Christendom over the invading Muslim troops. The profamily movement's bald reference to this ancient holy war informs new conservative foot soldiers who see today's immigration conflicts as "a new phase of a very old war." And so the WCF chose Poland as the site of last spring's massing of the troops, drawing thousands of leaders from across the spectrum of religious-right activism: from US evangelical and Catholic nonprofits to Eastern European Catholic and orthodox antiabortion and anti-gay rights groups, to bureaucrats from European, EU and US governments, taking policy notes to bring back home. – Sarah Posner

 

Initial media reports on Anders Behring Breivik’s dual assault on government buildings in downtown Oslo and the Labour Party summer camp were quick to link the attack to “Islamic terrorism”. It was eerily reminiscent of early reporting on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, when “experts” were quick to claim that the attack bore the hallmarks of “Middle Eastern” and “Islamic” terrorism. According to early reports, Breivik, fearing Muslim colonisation of Western Europe and the rise of multiculturalism – and allegedly citing the influence of individuals promoting exclusive and intolerant worldviews – decided that the time for action had come..-- Natana J. DeLong-Bas

 

The title of Breivik’s manifesto, which was posted on the internet on that day, is “2083”—the date Breivik suggested would be the culmination of a 70-year war that began with his action. Yet 70 years from 2011 would be 2081; why did he date the final purge of Muslims from Norway to be two years later, in 2083? I found the answer on page 242 of Breivik’s manifesto, where he explains that on 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, the Ottoman Empire’s military was defeated in a protracted struggle, thereby insuring that most of Europe would not become part of the Muslim empire. The date in Breivik’s title is the 400th anniversary of that decisive battle, and in Breivik’s mind he was re-creating the historic efforts to save Europe from what he imagined to be the evils of Islam. Behind the earthly conflict was a cosmic war, a battle for Christendom. As the title of Breivik’s manifesto indicates, he thought he was re-creating that historical moment in which Christianity was defended against the hordes, and Islam was purged from what he imagined to be the purity of European society. -- Mark Juergensmeyer

 

As soon as the shocking and tragic news from Norway hit the airwaves, it was entirely predictable that various right-wing Islamophobes would type first and think later. They were so eager to exploit the tragedy to peddle their pre-existing policy preferences that they blindly assumed the acts had to have been perpetrated by al Qaeda, by its various clones, or by some other radical Muslim group. This is the sort of bias one expects from an ideologue like Jennifer Rubin… Sadly, it is also not out of character for the supposedly respectable Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page has been a reliable source of threat-mongering and distortion for years. Even as Norwegian officials were cautioning that they had no reason to suspect Islamist groups, the Journal was plunging ahead with an editorial entitled "Terror in Oslo," -- Stephen M. Walt

 

“Today the creeping fascism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is coming upon us not as gradually as imperialism did, nor as suddenly as did the Emergency. Its spread is being calibrated adroitly by seven faceless men, who make the RSS ‘high command’. We barely feel it. Some yesteryear civil libertyites like Arun Shourie have been co-opted. Others are being wooed or chased… As the period of the Emergency clearly demonstrated, the RSS is astute enough to know when to hunt with the hounds and when to run with the hares. They are smarter than the German fascists in this respect.”

Anyone who thinks that these are the fulminations of some diehard ‘fanatic Muslim’ or a ‘pseudo-secular’ communist is in for a shock. The person venting his spleen against the RSS is none other than Subramanian Swamy. The aforementioned statement is taken from his article ‘The RSS game plan’ that was published in the January-February 2000 issue of Frontline magazine. And, “one of the results of the contacts between fascism and Hindu nationalism” wrote Casolari, “was the attempt to militarise Hindu society and to create a militant mentality among the Hindus. -- A Faizur Rahman’s Response to Subramaniam Swamy’s Article in DNA, Mumbai

 

Sure you might carry another article that counters Swamy’s article, and that might salvage the situation a bit, but it can’t undo the damage. The damage is that these kind of xenophobic views have now got respectability by getting carried in the DNA. I request you to issue an apology in your newspaper for carrying such an extremely offensive piece, so that people know such extreme views cannot be tolerated. —Vinay Sreenivasa, Bangalore.

There’s no crude bomb planted in any market which can hurt this country more than a few published opinions like Swamy’s. Apart from reflecting an ignorant, head-butting, childish worldview, it is an incitement to violence and generalised reprisals against a force (the “Muslim agenda at large”) that does not exist. I’m not really disappointed in Swamy — everyone knows what to expect of him — but your decision to publish him is the real betrayal of your role in a city experiencing crisis and fear. —Raghu Karnad, Editor, Time Out, Delhi.

 

Right Wing Watch flags the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer's column, in which he describes Anders Breivik's manifesto as "accurate," even though he doesn't agree with massacring people. Although Fischer devotes most of his column to denouncing the idea that Breivik is a Christian, he does write: Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and inflitration is accurate. But clear thinking Westerners and every Christian I know believes these problems can be solved through public policy rather than mass murder. -- Sarah Posner(Photo:American Family Association Monogram)

 

The perpetrator was a white Norwegian fanatic, a Christian, who for years has been planning these attacks which claimed the innocent lives of more than 90 people. Anders Behring Breivik felt no remorse and admitted to the crimes adding that he wanted to spark a revolution against multiculturalism in his country, specifically against Muslim immigrants and the spread of Islam in Europe. The twin attacks raise a number of key issues which will continue to overshadow public debate in most European countries and elsewhere. The link between terrorism and Islam goes beyond the foolish reaction of some in the Western media. It has become inherent in many Western societies where Islamophobia is on the rise, especially after the 9/11 attacks in New York and the 7/7 bombings in London. Similar terrorist attacks in Madrid in March 2004 were also blamed, although no direct link was established, to Al-Qaeda. As a result it became acceptable to associate Muslims with terror resulting in abhorrent practices such as racial profiling in the US and others. -- Osama al Sharif

 

When asked about the basis of his assertion about Islam being decidedly the perfect religion, and the fact that followers of other religions would be making comparable assertions, Zakir Naik conveniently invalidated the question by making a reference to Qu’ran which he said categorically and conclusively justified his assertions. He also added that secular nations were essentially confused about religious and ideological convictions. It was this lack of sufficient confidence in their own faith that non-Islamic countries permitted the practice of all religions. That such a choice might have involved the issue of tolerance and encouragement of cultural diversity, as an extension of a human being’s inalienable democratic rights, clearly didn’t occur to the barbaric propagandist. -- The Sojourner

Photo: Zakir Naik


The tide of Islamophobia is running strongly on the European right at the moment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trumpeting the failure of multiculturalism for the past six months, and British Prime Minister David Cameron recently added his voice to the chorus. It is only a cynical political stratagem, but it could have real consequences. Left to their own devices, the various immigrant groups in these countries, including the Muslim groups, will assimilate into the general society in a couple of generations, as immigrants generally do. You can accelerate the process a little with the right government policies, but not much. -- GWYNNE DYER

The aim is to establish Islamist political domination, resulting in an ideal Islamic state. The Islamists believe that all lands belong to Allah anyway, and the promotion of sharia law is seen as a means to cleanse the pagan lands so that the ideal Islamic state can be realised. Islamists have made quite clear their goals, and Sookhdeo cites a number of these. For example, Egyptian Muslim preacher ‘Amr Khalid said his back in 2008: “The Muslims keep having children, while the Europeans do not – this means that within 20 years the Muslims will be the majority.” And many non-Muslims agree. -- Bill Muehlenberg

…..incubating the negative feelings of Islamophobia leading to discrimination on religious grounds. The profiling of Muslims at state level proliferate extremism and violence. The propagation of WMDs, to induce mass fear, doctoring of information, bypassing of UN and invasion of Iraq, massive and indiscriminate use of uranium depleted munitions and abuse of human rights in Falujah ,Abu Gharib, rendition centers around the globe, ransacking relief flotilla, are all acts of extreme nature. It breads violence and the society gets adapted to the violence without any discrimination. -- Retd. Brig.Said Nazir Mohmand

Millions of American Muslims, who see no contradiction between being American and being Muslim, are working hard to bridge this gap. It is therefore not surprising that they have become the target of attacks by those who would rather burn bridges than build them, and the subject of recent congressional hearings exploring their ‘radicalisation’. What myths are behind the entrenched beliefs that Muslims simply do not belong in the US and that they threaten its security? 1. American Muslims are foreigners. Islam was in America even before there was a US. But Muslims didn’t peaceably emigrate - slave-traders brought them here. Historians estimate that up to 30 per cent of enslaved blacks were Muslims. West African prince Abdul Rahman, freed by president John Quincy Adams in 1828 after 40 years in captivity, was only one of many African Muslims kidnapped and sold into servitude in the New World. In early America, Muslim names could be found in reports of runaway slaves as well as among rosters of soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Muslims fought to preserve American independence in the War of 1812 and for the Union in the Civil War. And more than a century later, thousands of African Americans, including Cassius Clay and Malcolm Little, converted to Islam. Currently, there are two Muslim members of Congress and thousands of Muslims on active duty in the armed forces. Sure, some Muslim soldiers may have been born elsewhere, but if you wear the uniform of the US and are willing to die for this country, can you really be considered a foreigner? -- Faisal Abdul Rauf

Oklahoma lawmakers may have overreached by seeking constitutional changes, but more than a dozen other states are considering similar kinds of anti-Islamic legislation. In February, legislators in Tennessee put forward a bill that would simply outlaw Sharia and make “material support” for it punishable by 15 years in prison. Critics argued that even benign activities like weddings at a mosque or bringing food to a potluck could be classified as a felony. In March, legislators amended the proposed bill to remove all references to Islam, Muslims or Sharia. In its broadest sense, Sharia is a system of laws based on the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad—the Sunnah and Hadith. It is not codified and is practiced according to how Muslim scholars interpret the law. However, it has been characterized much more insidiously by members of the Tennessee legislature. Among other things, the drafting legislators wrote, “Sharia … includes a war doctrine known as jihad,” and “the unchanging and ultimate aim of jihad is the imposition of Sharia on all states and nations, including the United States and this state … through violence and criminal activity.” Essentially, the legislation described Sharia law as a terrorist manifesto. -- SALIM MUWAKKIL

Surely, threats by radical Muslims are real. Everybody, including Muslim Americans, should make every effort to prevent terrorist attacks from happening.  And yes, some Muslim Americans retain exclusivist perceptions about “the other”. But, are most American Muslims radicals? If you believe America is the land of liberty and most Muslim Americans are radicals, what does that really mean? Is there such a thing as a moderate Muslim? If not, then are Muslims the enemy? Isn’t this exactly the same reasoning used by al-Qaeda from the opposite direction? As shown by public reaction to the hearings, most Americans are sympathetic to Islam, but some groups are still pushing Islamophobia into the mainstream. Remember, as institutionalized hatred, Islamophobia has become a cultural product that is transferable across time, space and even generations.  When people let bigots lead ignorant masses in times of crisis, as repeatedly shown in history, institutionalized hatred can be an especially deadly weapon for a powerful tyrant to push powerless others to the brink of extinction. Remember the Christian Inquisition, the Holocaust and other genocides? -- A Report, The Jakarta Post

 

We should be concerned about the hearings and pray that Mr. King would be honest, sincere and fair. We hope he will not destroy the fabric of our Nation and pit one American against the other.   King’s hearing is reflective of sheer political desperation. The right-wing Republicans rode in with thumping majority in mid term elections, and now their goal is to win the senate and the white house, this hearing is to augment that process.   They do not have an honest reason to win in 2012, so they manufacture “Sharia”, “Caliphate” and other devils.  They frighten the crap out of constipated men and women and guarantee them that they will defend their rights and keep the bogeymen out.  In reality nothing really will change; no one gets hired or sees the prosperity. We hope that Americans will not be duped into believing a win against the imaginary non-existent enemy. -- Mike Ghouse

The work we have been doing over the last six years at Faith Matters, an organization dedicated to creating community cohesion among faith communities in the United Kingdom, suggests that Warsi is right – about both anti-Muslim sentiment and the U.K.’s history of integration. We have heard openly anti-Muslim sentiment in some communities. When we publish research materials on the Muslim community, we regularly receive correspondence from people who spout some of the worst stereotypes about Muslims…. The diversity of Muslim communities, whether of thought, practice or background, means that such elements need to be promoted and disseminated in advertising campaigns, through the press and through social media. We must not underestimate the power of social media in creating grassroots ideas and perceptions. -- Fiyaz Mughal

Many Muslims in this country and around the world are actually opposed to the wearing of the burqa and to all forms of veiling. Conversely, some of those who choose to wear the burqa are not Muslims! There are orthodox Jewish women in Israel, for instance, who wear it today, and certainly if you go back in history you will find that Christians from the Church Fathers onwards were very much in favour of the practice of veiling! This all makes the issue of the burqa a complex one. And I know that every complex problem has a simple answer, but I know too that the simple answer is invariably the wrong answer, and nowhere is this more true than with regards to this case. -- David B. Smith

The moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party could not be any more evident than in its continued support for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as majority leader despite his decision to join the bigoted and Islamophobic campaign against the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center in New York, arguing that it “should be built somewhere else.”

This was also an apparent effort to embarrass President Barack Obama – who, in a rare example of showing some spine in the face of right-wing attacks – defended the First Amendment rights of the Muslim group. According to the president, Muslim Americans have “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.” Despite the efforts of New York’s Republican mayor and the large number of 9/11 families and the city’s Christian and Jewish leaders who have defended the project, the senator representing a state nearly 3,000 miles away apparently believes he knows better…

Indeed, Reid’s Islamophobia and bigotry toward Muslims has been evident for years. For example, he was a leader among the right-wing minority of Congressional Democrats who supported President George W. Bush’s contention that the United States somehow has the right to invade Muslim countries rich in hydrocarbon resources on the far side of the world, even if they pose no threat to us. In order to convince the public to support such an illegal war, Reid teamed up with the Bush administration, prominent neo-conservatives, Fox News, and some dubious Iraqi exiles in making a series of false allegations regarding Iraq’s military capability. -- Stephen Zunes

The recent surge of Islamophobia in the United States has drawn strength from several extraordinary substitutions. A clearly Christian president has become Muslim in the minds of a significant number of Americans. The thoughtful Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has become a closet fundamentalist in the writings of Paul Berman and others. And an Islamic center in lower Manhattan, organized by proponents of interfaith dialogue, has become an extremist “mosque at Ground Zero” in the TV appearances, political speeches, and Internet sputterings of a determined clique of right-wing activists....

With their irrational fear of spiders, arachnophobes are scared of both harmless daddy longlegs and poisonous brown recluse spiders. In extreme cases, an arachnophobe can break out in a sweat while merely looking at photos of spiders. It is, of course, reasonable to steer clear of black widows. What makes a legitimate fear into an irrational phobia, however, is the tendency to lump all of any group, spiders or humans, into one lethal category and then to exaggerate how threatening they are. Spider bites, after all, are responsible for at most a handful of deaths a year in the United States....

Irrational fears are often rooted in our dimly remembered childhoods. Our irrational fear of Islam similarly seems to stem from events that happened in the early days of Christendom. Three myths inherited from the era of the Crusades constitute the core of Islamophobia today: Muslims are inherently violent, Muslims want to take over the world, and Muslims can’t be trusted.

The myth of Islam as a “religion of the sword” was a staple of Crusader literature and art. In fact, the atrocities committed by Muslim leaders and armies -- and there were some -- rarely rivaled the slaughters of the Crusaders, who retook Jerusalem in 1099 in a veritable bloodbath. -- John Feffer

Mr Woolas was accused of fighting a “dirty and dishonest” campaign full of “lies, smears and totally false allegations”. Mr Watkins’s lawyers argued that: “Mr Woolas, believing that he was going to lose the election, resorted to terrifying white voters into believing that there was an extremist militant Muslim element in Oldham, who were in cahoots with Mr Watkins. He wished to convey the message that a vote for Mr Watkins was a vote for extremists.”

Emails between members of Mr Woolas’s campaign team, obtained by Mr Watkins’s lawyers, detail their alleged plans to claim falsely that Mr Watkins supported Islamic extremists and was “prepared to condone death threats” against Mr Woolas to secure their vote. -- Martin Beckford and Peter Hutchison

 
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