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Muslims and Islamophobia (23 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islamophobia: Nationalist Populists Rely On Fake News, Special Interests and Us-Versus Them Narratives; Targeting Muslims as Scapegoats

By Azeem Ibrahim

August 21, 2019

Islamophobia used to be a local problem among nationalist reactionaries in countries with substantial Muslim immigrant populations. Today, the fear is emerging into an organizing principle for an international “axis of evil,” whereby nationalist populist forces in many countries who would otherwise have little interest in supporting one another, find common ground and organize alliances around a shared hostility toward Muslims – along with associated issues like migration, demographic trends, liberal international institutions and norms, and so on.

Why would, for example, Viktor Orbán, the leader of a small nation in the middle of Europe with virtually no Muslim population meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of an isolated country on the other side of Eurasia that has engaged in genocide against its largest Muslim minority? To discuss the existential issues of “growing Muslim populations” and what they deem as the “Western-liberal fake news media,” of course. Of like minds are Narendra Modi of India, Matteo Salvini of Italy and Donald Trump of the United States. And those are just the vocal proponents in power. Similar notable figures are depending on this path to power in an increasing number of countries, including Austria, France, Germany, the Benelux and Scandinavian countries, and increasingly in Southeast Asia and China.

All come with their own local flavor and spin to their rhetoric, weaving hostility towards Muslims into a broader opposition to migration and liberal values. Except for the shared Islamophobia, these diverse politicians might do not have much of a shared world-view – even when they do have practical common interests.

The peculiar convergence on this issue among such different movements in such disparate countries is, of course, a complex phenomenon with multiple and diverse causal links and feedback loops. I can highlight two, one a push factor and another a pull factor.

The push factor is that we live in increasingly politically unstable states. With the advent of the internet and social media, we have unregulated, and unregulatable, flows of information directly among most of our citizens. This creates an unstable information environment where factual reality is difficult to access for most people, and where alternative realities and “alternative facts” are promoted and sold. And the business models for media in this environment need have no relationship to actual reality, but can instead tap into the attention economy. Some media outlets typically do so with outlandish claims and by feeding the outrage machine.

This is coupled with an ideological commitment to a notion of democracy, which empowers the individual with whatever reality he or she chooses, entitling them to expect “customer satisfaction” from their politicians. Delivering “customer satisfaction” that politicians promise during campaigns would be impossible even if the entire electorate could agree on reality and what they hope to achieve by the collective exercise of public politics in that reality. But voters don’t agree on what they want to achieve, and they scarcely agree on basic facts such as the threat of climate change or the efficacy of vaccines.

If politics is the activity of organizing the collective endeavors of society, then such destabilization of reality cripples the very possibility of politics. In this environment, political leaders are pushed to come up with any narrative that can organize their societies towards some shared vision or goal.

For some, this narrative revolves around Islamophobia. At a basic level, the most effective narratives for political coordination have tended to be us-versus-them stories. As social psychology suggests, in-group/out-group distinctions are ingrained in the human psyche by forces no less powerful than evolution itself. This tendency is, from the evolutionary point of view, a much faster, less time-consuming way to encourage humans to cooperate than, say, requiring or waiting for all individuals to develop detailed appreciation and enlightenment over how cooperation and general pro-social behavior are conducive to one’s self-interest.

And to make the us-versus-them story especially effective, leaders pit good versus evil. Religious differences are an easy way to bring a moral dimension to the conflict and motivate large numbers.

Some political leaders have appointed Islam as the “evil” side in this story. This choice has less to do with calculated reasoning and more to do with historical accident. Two aspects of history are particularly relevant. First, Islam is the most recent of the major religions to emerge dramatically from the geographical center of the Eurasian landmass, as the state religion of a highly expansionist and successful empire. From its beginning, Islam has been a political tool both for its Arab proponents in the Umayyad and Abbasid empires and for its opponents in Christian Europe and Hindu/Buddhist Asia.

Second, the undisputed cultural and political hegemon in the post–Cold War era, the United States, despite having little history with Islam, took a keen and negative interest in the religion after the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. The rhetoric and actions of the United States in the wake of those attacks, perpetrated by 19 men acting on behalf of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, elevated Islam to the position of Public Enemy Number 1 for the global cultural community over which the sole superpower presides. Much of the Old World in Europe and Asia was only too happy to reprise old prejudices and hostility towards Islam to curry favor with the hegemon.

In the final analysis, Islam is a target of convenience in a world destabilized by technological and communication revolutions, increasingly edging towards environmental collapse.

Nationalist populists were already primed towards tribalism and on the lookout for scapegoats. But the peculiar feature of this moment in history is that most states are feeling increasingly fragile due to a confluence of technological, environmental and political reasons. Citizens of the unregulated United States, the fractious Indian republic, waning Old Europe and the unstable, artificial former colonial states are feeling increasingly insecure and have thus become susceptible to tribal instincts and “easy” solutions offered by the populists. In that context, Islam, a religion without a central figurehead with the power to define what it stands for in relation to the rest of the world, has long been an easy target of suspicion for most outside the Muslim world. For many, it is the most obvious target.

Many of the challenges confronting our world today are global: climate change, resource depletion, nuclear proliferation, increasing geopolitical destabilization and so on. These are complex problems with complex solutions. Furthermore, there are deep disagreements at the global level about the analysis of those problems and the approaches for resolution.

Islam as a global challenge is a simple notion: “Muslims are evil and dangerous.” Political leaders scraping for a simple narrative to organize a society, just as that body politic is anxious, unravelling, holding little patience or interest in engaging with complex challenges and solutions that require sacrifice, are tempted to turn to Islamophobia as a political crutch.

But scapegoating does not solve crises. And focusing on invented threats wastes political energy required to address existential challenges from climate change to resource depletion. Muslims are not out to invade the West. What is threatening the West are unprecedented heatwaves, rising seas, droughts, polar vortexes, more frequent hurricanes and massive forest fires. No amount of border fencing can stop these invaders. And wealthy nations can expect to suffer as people from poorer countries do. Instead on focusing on the actual problems, populists invent easier enemies to confront – perhaps to mask the impotence or lack of real solutions to real problems.

Azeem Ibrahim, PhD, is the director of the Displacement and Migration Program at the Center for Global Policy in Washington, DC, and a 2009 Yale World Fellow

Original Headline: Islamophobia Embraced As Anti-Globalization Tool

Source: Eurasia Review

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/muslims-and-islamophobia/azeem-ibrahim/islamophobia--nationalist-populists-rely-on-fake-news,-special-interests-and-us-versus-them-narratives;-targeting-muslims-as-scapegoats/d/119544


  • Hats Off's attributing present day Islamophobia in Europe and America to what is written in the Quran is further evidence of his hate-induced  psychosis.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/26/2019 12:12:58 PM

  • Quran supports Muslims should show their kindness to unbelievers.  The following is the extract:
    Al-Mumtahinah (The Examined One) - 60:8  [read in context]
    لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ (60:8)
    Basit -   Hussari -   Minshawi -  f
    La yanhakumu Allahu AAani allatheena lam yuqatilookum fee alddeeni walam yukhrijookum min diyarikum an tabarroohum watuqsitoo ilayhim inna Allaha yuhibbu almuqsiteena
    Topics discussed in this Verse:
    [Allah:loves those who are just] [Justice] [Unbelievers:kind and just dealing with]
    As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: [9] for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. - 60:8 (Asad) - 
    The phrase, unbelievers..do not fight you..and neither drive you forth from your homeland..God does not forbid you to show them kindness, as mentioned in this verse implies God does not forbid Muslims to show kindness to those pagans who do not fight with them or drive them out from their homeland.  In other words, God permits Muslims to show kindness to pagans.
    Quran is not a book that promotes hatred against pagans, but peace.  The following is the extract:
    Ash-Shura (The Consultation) - 42:40  [read in context]
    وَجَزَاء سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ (42:40)
    Basit -   Hussari -   Minshawi -  f
    Wajazao sayyiatin sayyiatun mithluha faman AAafa waaslaha faajruhu AAala Allahi innahu la yuhibbu alththalimeena
    Topics discussed in this Verse:
    [Forgiveness] [Qisas] [Self defence]
    But [remember that an attempt at] requiting evil may, too, become an evil: [40] hence, whoever par­dons [his foe] and makes peace, his reward rests with God - for, verily, He does not love evildoers. [41] - 42:40 (Asad) - 
    The phrase, whoever pardons [his foe] and makes peace..his reward rests with God, in this verse implies Quran promotes peace between Muslims and their enemies.  If they can pardon their enemies and make peace with their enemies, there will be reward from God.  As Quran promotes peace, there is no reason to assume it would promote hatred against pagans.  Instead, it encourages them to make peace with them.
    By zuma - 8/26/2019 5:23:08 AM

  • the Qur'an is all the proof you need for verifying what i said. not being a snake in the grass like you, i just point out what the "holy" book says and encourages the momeen to do.

    it asks the momeen not be friends with kuffar, participate in ghazwas, take their women as sex slaves, impose jizya on the kuffar.

    maybe all these are perfectly "kind" and liberal for those like you who spit into the very plate which feeds you and desrt their lands for a few dollars more.

    By hats off! - 8/25/2019 7:43:42 PM

  • For hate merchants like Hats Off, any targeting of Muslims is just fine. He can always call it "push back" without giving any evidence. Such are the ways of those who are hate-crazed.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/25/2019 11:57:41 AM

  • just as islam targets the idolators, the polytrheists, the jews and the christians, it is perfectly understandable when the victims push back. - and they should - by all and every means.
    By hats off! - 8/25/2019 8:00:17 AM

  • Read the extracts from hadith carefully, hadith does not command all polytheists to be killed:

    Farwah b. Nawfal quoted his father as saying that the Prophet (ﷺ) said to Nawfal (his father):

    Recite (the Surah) 'Say, O you disbelievers!' and then go to sleep at its end, for it is a declaration of freedom from polytheism.
    حَدَّثَنَا النُّفَيْلِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا زُهَيْرٌ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ، عَنْ فَرْوَةَ بْنِ نَوْفَلٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لِنَوْفَلٍ ‏"‏ اقْرَأْ ‏{‏ قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ ‏}‏ ثُمَّ نَمْ عَلَى خَاتِمَتِهَا فَإِنَّهَا بَرَاءَةٌ مِنَ الشِّرْكِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏
    The extract above is from Sahih (Al-Albani), reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 5055, in-book reference: book 43, hadith 283; English translation: book 42, hadith 5037.
    If hadith promotes hatred against polytheism, why should the phrase, a declaration of freedom from polytheism, be mentioned here?  Instead, polytheism should not be given with freedom and must be killed if hadith supports Muslims cannot tolerate the existence of polytheists.
    Mahmud bin Labid (RAA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
    “The thing I fear most for you is the lesser shirk (polytheism), showing-off (of good deeds).” Related by Ahmad with a good chain of narrators,
    وَعَنْ مَحْمُودِ بْنِ لَبِيدٍ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-{ إِنَّ أَخْوَفَ مَا أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ اَلشِّرْكُ اَلْأَصْغَرُ: اَلرِّيَاءُ } أَخْرَجَهُ أَحْمَدُ بِسَنَدٍ حَسَنٍ.‏ (1946)‏ .

    ‏1 ‏- حسن.‏ رواه أحمد (5 / 428 و 429)‏ وزاد:" يقول الله ‏-عز وجل‏- لهم يوم القيامة ‏-إذا جزى الناس بأعمالهم‏-: اذهبوا إلى الذين كنتم تراءون في الدنيا فانظروا هل تجدون عندهم جزاء".‏

    The extract above is from English reference: book 16, hadith 1527; Arabic reference, book 16, hadith 1484.
    The phrase, If fear most for you is ...polytheism, as mentioned above implies the conversation of a Muslim with a polytheist and yet he did not command to slaughter him, but having dialogue with him.

    'Auf b. Malik Ashja'i reported We practised incantation in the pre-Islamic days and we said:

    Allah's Messenger. what is your opinion about it? He said: Let me know your incantation and said: There is no harm in the incantation which does not smack of polytheism.
    حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو الطَّاهِرِ، أَخْبَرَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي مُعَاوِيَةُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَوْفِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ الأَشْجَعِيِّ، قَالَ كُنَّا نَرْقِي فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ فَقُلْنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَيْفَ تَرَى فِي ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ اعْرِضُوا عَلَىَّ رُقَاكُمْ لاَ بَأْسَ بِالرُّقَى مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ شِرْكٌ ‏"‏ ‏.‏
    Reference: Sahih Muslim 2200, in-book reference: book 39, hadith 86, USC-MSA web (English) reference: book 26, hadith 5457.
    If Allah's Messenger had the hatred of all polytheists, he should mention in this statement with the phrase, There is harm in the incantation which does not smack to those who promoted polytheism.  As the phrase, There is no harm in the incantation which does not smack of polytheism, it implies he was not against those who promotes polytheism and to him, there was no harm.

    Abu Musa reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said:

    There is none to show more patience at listening to the most irksome things than Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. 'Partnership is associated to Him (polytheism), and (fatherhood) of a child is attributed to Him, but in spite of this He protects them (people) and provides them sustenance.' This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abu Musa with a slight variation of wording.
    حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، وَأَبُو أُسَامَةَ عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ السُّلَمِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ لاَ أَحَدَ أَصْبَرُ عَلَى أَذًى يَسْمَعُهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِنَّهُ يُشْرَكُ بِهِ وَيُجْعَلُ لَهُ الْوَلَدُ ثُمَّ هُوَ يُعَافِيهِمْ وَيَرْزُقُهُمْ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ 

    حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ نُمَيْرٍ، وَأَبُو سَعِيدٍ الأَشَجُّ قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، حَدَّثَنَا الأَعْمَشُ، حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ جُبَيْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ السُّلَمِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.‏ بِمِثْلِهِ إِلاَّ قَوْلَهُ ‏"‏ وَيُجْعَلُ لَهُ الْوَلَدُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ فَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَذْكُرْهُ ‏.‏

    The above extract is from Sahih Muslim 2804 a, b; in-book reference: book 52, hadith 35; USC-MSA web (English) reference: book 39, hadith 6731.
    If Muslims in historic Islamic nation hated polytheists the most even to the extent to kill them wherever they were, why should the phrase, Partnership is associated to..polytheism..He protects them and provides them sustenance, be mentioned here.  Instead, they should kill them and not to protect them if historic Islamic nation at the time when Prophet Mohammad was around could not tolerate the existence of polytheists in his nation.
    As the above hadiths do not force polytheists to give zakat or to demand Muslims to kill them, it implies that the reason why in some occasion that Muslims were called to kill polytheists should be due to the violent act of polytheists in the past to try to annihilate Muslims and that caused them to be alert.  However, if they should repent from violence, establish prayer, and give zakah...
    Quran 4:90 mentions Muslims should leave them instead of killing them if they do not fight with them.  The following is the extract:
    Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.
    (سورة النساء, An-Nisaa, Chapter #4, Verse #90)
    The above is the extract from Mohsin Khan translation.  For instance, if Quran would demand polytheists to pay zakat if they cease battle with Muslims, why should the phrase, if they withdraw from you..and fight not against you..Allah has opened no way for you agains them, to be mentioned here.  Instead, the phrase, if they withdraw from you..and fight not against you..then Allah will demand you to get zakat from them, be mentioned here if Quran demands all polytheists to pay zakat if they cease battle.  
    As modern polytheists do not battle with Muslims, there is no reason for Muslims to impose zakat to them, since Quran 4:90 mentions Allah has opened no way for you against them instead of demanding Muslims to get zakat from them.
    Thus, it is obvious that the possible reason why polytheists were forced to pay zakat after they ceased fire was to recover the loses they might incur in war if they battled with them.  However, if polytheists do not fight with Muslims, no way Muslims should impose zakat to them, since Quran 4:90, "(mentions) Allah has opened no way for you against them.", yet modern muslim extremists try to be against them to get zakat from them even though they do not fight with them.  They indeed have acted contrarily what is mentioned in Quran.

    By zuma - 8/24/2019 4:13:00 PM

    And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah,,............
    By Sanjay narain saigal - 8/24/2019 8:30:52 AM

  • To Azeem 
    From Muslim point of view See first your The Us vs them was narrated by Quran and fakery of Hadees.
    Volumes and volumes of Hadees are written US vs Them, 
    It's just Karma returns back now.
    Victim hood practise of Muslims are exposed munch now.

    By Aayina - 8/23/2019 3:00:47 PM

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