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Thread: Islamophobia

  1. #21
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    Report: Islamophobia is a multimillion-dollar industry

    More than $200m spent on promoting fear and hatred of Muslims in US by various groups between 2008 and 2013.

    More than $200m was spent towards promoting "fear and hatred" of Muslims in the United States by various organisations between 2008 and 2013, according to a fresh joint report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley.

    Released on Monday, the report identifies 74 groups, including feminist, Christian, Zionist and prominent news organisations, which either funded or fostered Islamophobia.

    "It is an entire industry of itself. There are people making millions of dollars per year from promoting Islamophobia. They often present themselves as experts on Islamic affairs when they are not," Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for CAIR, told Al Jazeera.

    "They have fuelled an environment of distrust among the American public by claiming that Muslims do not belong to the American community and that they could never be loyal citizens."

    Ruiz said that Islamophobia has posed two main dangers: a rise in hate crimes and anti-Islamic legislation.

    "For example, in the last year alone in Florida, there has been a 500 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims. Mosques have been vandalised and there have been a number of bomb threats towards Islamic groups.

    "And Florida's government is even trying to ban school books from making any references to Islam in history."

    Since 2013, the country has seen a rise in the number of bills or amendments - about 81 - designed to "vilify Islamic religious practices", 80 of which were introduced to state legislatures by Republicans, the report notes.

    It cited Florida Senator Alan Hayes as once distributing literature that said: "Our religious, political, and peaceful way of life is under attack by Islam and Sharia Law. Save my generation from this ideology that is invading our country and masquerading as a 'religion'. Itís sedition: They are determined to overthrow our State and our Country."

    Meira Neggaz, the executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) - a US-based think-tank, told Al Jazeera a poll published in March showed that one out of every five American Muslims had experienced discrimination on a regular basis, while more than half of them had faced some discrimination.

    "The other faith group you would think would suffer from some discrimination are Jews. They do, but far lower - only about 5 percent," she said.

    She also noted that the rise in anti-Islamic sentiment was more tied to political rhetoric than terrorist events.
    "2008 and 2012 - the years of election campaigns - saw spikes in Islamophobia that had nothing to do with terror. And we are now seeing similar trends in this election cycle.

    "It is part of a broader backlash against minorities. Lawmakers who are legislating against Muslims are also against other minority groups.

    "At least 32 states have introduced and debated anti-sharia or anti-foreign law bills. And, according to our research, 80 percent of legislators who sponsor this type of legislation also sponsor bills restricting the rights of other minorities and vulnerable groups."

    Neggaz emphasised that Islamophobia is a threat to US democracy and affects all of the country's residents.
    "Religious discrimination is illegal. There has to be legal procedures that can address that."


  2. #22
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    Israel’s Hand in the Short History of Islamophobia.

    You know you have reached peak Islamophobia when semi-literate, ex-cons who have never studied Islam or terrorism, can’t read Arabic, have never visited the Middle East, and don’t have a single Muslim friend publish a book about Islam and its alleged (non-existent) relationship to violence.

    Well, that’s exactly what Tommy Robinson, the high profiled leader of drunken football hooligans (aka English Defense League) who hate Muslims has done. It would appear his two stints in prison (12 months in prison for assaulting a police officer in 2003, and another 18 months in jail in 2012 for mortgage fraud) has bestowed Robinson all the credentials he needs to publicly comment on a complex religious faith — one that is followed and practiced by a great many diverse cultures and ethnicities.

    Yes, that guy has written a book on Islam, which is kind of like writing a book on cardiothoracic surgery because you once watched a season of General Hospital. But this is where we are today. If you have neither a job nor qualifications, a career in peddling anti-Muslim hate awaits.
    In a recent Australian televised panel debate on Islam and terrorism, the moderator asked Mehdi Hasan, a British Muslim television journalist, where exactly Islamophoba comes from. “The fear comes from many places,” replied Hasan. “Partly, of course, it comes from the fear terrorism provokes…but a lot it, unfortunately, comes from media and social media these days.”

    Since al Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001, Islamophobia has been a rags-to-riches story and a career builder for any number of opportunistic cons, politicians and book peddlers. It has put the likes of Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Sam Harris on best selling book lists; has launched or re-launched the political careers of Geert Wilders (The Netherlands), Marine Le Pen (France), and Pauline Hanson (Australia), and helped put Donald Trump into the White House.

    All of who portray Islam as uniquely violent, hostile to Western democratic values, and tied to terrorism, despite the fact none of the aforementioned has attained a single academic credential in either Islamic or security studies.

    Behind them is a cadre of anti-Muslim organizations and networks, many funded by a cohort of groups that could be described as loosely affiliated with the pro-Israel lobby. In 2014, this column identified the pro-Israel millionaires who fund what has become widely known as the “Islamophobia industry.”

    Their conspiracy theories about Muslims — ones that accuse Muslims in the West of plotting to implement Sharia and those that portray Muslims as a demographic time bomb — and their unrelenting efforts to tie Islam to acts of political violence make their way into mainstream media and then later into actual official government policy.

    But while this account of Islamophobia in the post -9/11 West is well known and documented, the Israeli origins of the Western discourse on terrorism are more opaque, and it’s from here that most of the erroneous anti-Muslim narratives were born.

    Professor Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, says the effort to tie Islam to terrorism in public discourse started at a neo-con, Zionist funded conference on international terrorism in 1979. Notable attendees included George H. Bush and Likud party founder Menachem Begin.

    If the conference had one goal, it was to reach an agreement that right wing parties in Israel and the United States should adopt rhetoric that paints Palestinian struggle for self-determination and independence as “terrorism.” Kumar notes that while the conference aimed to “serve as the new beginning of a new process — the process of rallying the democracies of the world to struggle against terrorism and the dangers it represents,” it did not emphasize any ties between terrorism and Islam.

    This changed five years later, however, at the second International Conference on Terrorism held in Washington DC. It was here that US neo-cons and the Israeli far right rooted modern terrorism to Islamic and Arab radicalism, notes Kumar. At this conference, Bernard Lewis became the first public intellectual to overtly link terrorism to Islam by arguing “Islam is a political religion,” and thus because terrorism is an act of political violence, the term “Islamic terrorism” applies, while the descriptor Jewish terrorism or Christian terrorism does not.

    From this point forward, both US neocons and Zionists worked together to convince Western policy makers that “Islamic terrorism” would replace Communism as the West’s next great threat. By tying Islam to terrorism, neocons would gain political cover for their imperialistic ambitions in the Middle East, and Zionists would benefit from garnering Western sympathies for their struggle against Palestinian “terrorism.”

    Dr. Remi Brulin, a research fellow at New York University, observes that the term “terrorism” was largely absent from American discourse until the Reagan administration began adopting a “very specific, narrow, and ideologically driven understanding of ‘terrorism” — one adopted from those tied to the respective neoconservative and Zionist movements.

    “The discourse on ‘terrorism” is thus full of contradictions, and inconsistencies,” notes Brulin. “It is, at heart, the result of a deeply political and ideological process of meaning production, one in which specific political actors, from American neoconservative political operatives to Israeli officials to…the mainstream media, played a central role. Since it burst onto the American political scene three decades ago, this discourse’s central aim has been to de-humanize, de-politicize and de-legitimize the ‘enemy of the day,’ while legitimizing any and all uses of political violence against it. It is, in its contemporary expression, a dangerous, a-historical and anti-intellectual discourse, which should be deconstructed and, ultimately, discarded.”

    It is thus from these pro-Israeli and US neoconservative think tanks that anti-Muslim conspiracies, tropes, and negative stereotypes emerge. It is from this discourse that the likes of Trump and all those associated with the Islamophobia industry, including Tommy Robinson, borrow their Islamophobic notions that posit Islam as dangerous, violent, and a threat to Western civilization itself.

    And right there is your short history on Islamophobia in the West, and Israel’s hand behind it.


  3. #23
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    Trump politics, media bias triggers Islamophobia in US

    On Aug. 5, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, a small mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, was targeted with an "improvised explosive device" at around 5 a.m., at a time when the congregation was inside getting ready for their morning prayer. Fortunately, no one was injured during the attack, which caused material damage to the property and was termed as a "terrible, dastardly, cowardly, terrible" crime by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. "The destruction done to this sacred site is just unthinkable, unforgivable," Dayton was quoted as saying by The Star Tribune during his press conference on the same day.

    The latest incident was a new dark stain in the U.S. record of anti-Muslim tendencies, which have significantly increased in the past couple of years. According to experts, in addition to other factors, the election of Donald Trump as president and his discriminative political rhetoric, as well as the media bias against Muslims and Islam has been a contributing factor to the recent escalation violence against Muslims in the United States.

    Although racial discrimination is not a hidden story in American history and politics, and continues to haunt the daily lives of many in the U.S., a new alarming trend, particularly against Muslims and or those with perceived Muslim backgrounds, has been observed.

    Documenting the anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S., a recent report published by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) suggests that "the number of hate crimes in the first half of 2017 spiked 91 percent compared to the same period in 2016," which was the worst year since 2013, the year CAIR began to document incidents in a new system.

    According to the report, "the number of bias incidents in 2017 also increased by 24 percent compared to the first half of 2016."

    "The most prevalent trigger of anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017 remains the victim's ethnicity or national origin, accounting for 32 percent of the total. Twenty percent of incidents occurred because of an individual being perceived as Muslim. A Muslim woman's headscarf was a trigger in 15 percent of incidents," the report also indicates.

    'Trump effect' triggers anti-Muslim acts

    Todd Green, an associate professor of religion at Luther College, who writes and speaks on topics pertaining to Islamophobia in Europe and the United States, and is a former advisor at the U.S. State Department, says the recent attacks should be a "wake-up call for the U.S. and its leaders."

    "The use of an explosive device clearly indicates the intent to harm or kill," Professor Green told Daily Sabah. He added that the rising violence and attacks against Muslims is a result of the "Trump effect."

    "There's no doubt in my mind that this is the 'Trump effect.' True, the overt anti-Islamic rhetoric [used by Trump] has decreased, but we must take seriously the long-term effects of the rhetoric from his presidential campaign. Trump flirted with a registration system and ID cards for Muslims. At one point, he stated flatly that 'Islam hates us.' Most significantly, he called for 'a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country.' Trump repeatedly signaled to his supporters and the nation at large that Muslims were not one of us, that they posed a significant security threat to the U.S."

    According to another CAIR report, titled "Civil Rights Report 2017: The Empowerment of Hate," between 2014 and 2016 there was a nearly 600 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims.

    "In 2016, CAIR recorded a 57 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents over 2015. This was accompanied by a 44 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period. From 2014 to 2016, anti-Muslim bias incidents jumped 65 percent. In that two-year period, CAIR finds that hate crimes targeting Muslims surged 584 percent," the CAIR report highlighted in its key findings.

    Green also highlights that, President Trump, known for being very active on social media, has refrained from tweeting on acts against Muslims, while he is very quick to show his stance when the victims are non-Muslims.

    "It's been over three days since the attack on the Dar Al-Farooq Mosque, and Trump has not uttered one word in response to the bombing. He's made no tweets condemning the attack and no official statements expressing solidarity with Muslims in Bloomington, MN. This is a pattern," Green said. "His silence sends a clear signal that Muslim lives do not really matter, that Muslims are not worth his time and effort."

    Craig Considine, a sociology professor at Rice University and an author, told Daily Sabah that the rise in anti-Muslim tendencies are "inextricably linked to the rise of Trumpism [white Christian nationalism]. Arsonists who attack mosques feel emboldened by a president who they perceive to be anti-Muslim himself."

    Media coverage biased against Muslims

    Another triggering dimension of anti-Islamic tendencies is the media's portrayal of Muslims as well as the bias against Muslims in covering attacks against them, the experts also say.

    "The word terrorism itself is hardly ever used when Muslims are the victims, only when they are the perpetrators," Professor Considine says.

    Todd Green claims that the word terrorism is now a "racialized" term and "It's applied almost exclusively to Muslims or people with a Muslim background."

    "Media outlets are hesitant to apply the word when Muslims are the target of attacks or when perpetrators are clearly not Muslim," Green says, adding that the media also describes some attacks as terrorism and others as not "based primarily on whether or not the perpetrator is a Muslim."

    According to a report released in 2016 by a Toronto-based consulting firm, the western mainstream media portrays a negative and biased perception of Islam and Muslims in their headlines. The report, titled "Are Muslims Collectively Responsible? A Sentiment Analysis of the New York Times," has used The New York Times as a case study, making comparisons between the usage of the words Islam/Muslims and other words, such as alcohol, cancer, Yankees, Christianity, and Republican.

    The report was prepared by using data from The New York Times from 1990 to 2014. It compared the headlines to "Identify the specific terms associated with Islam and Muslim, while simultaneously categorizing them as positive, negative or neutral." The report was prepared by making a comparative analysis with other key words, including Alcohol, Christianity, Cancer, Democrat, Republican and the New York Yankees.

    According to the findings of the report, 57 percent of the headlines using the words Islam/Muslim had negative meanings attached to them, while only 8 percent of the headlines were positive.

    'Americans do not know Muslims'

    In addition to political rhetoric against Muslims by Trump-like politicians and the media's biased coverage, Professor Considine argues that among the foundational reasons behind the escalation in anti-Muslim sentiment is that there is a lack of interaction with Muslims on a regular basis among non-Muslim Americans and the "lack of exposure to Muslims themselves is an obvious contributor to the increase in anti-Muslim sentiments." He also added that the "ignorance of Islam and American Muslims contributes to increasing Islamophobia."

    Professor Green, on the other hand, claims that Muslims are the new scapegoats, utilized by anti-Islamic proposals seeking far-right votes.

    "In the post 9/11 West, election cycles always lead to spikes in anti-Muslim prejudice and hatred as opportunistic politicians try to galvanize the electorate by proposing policies that target Muslim minority communities," Green said.

    "The political motive for generating anti-Muslim hostility cannot be underestimated. It's been quite effective, as we've seen with Trump's victory and the increasing influence of the far-right in Europe."

    Both Professor Green and Professor Considine share that interaction between communities based on understanding and education about each other will contribute to tackling Islamophobia, and ultimately benefit civil society in the U.S. and the West in general.

    In addition, Green highlighted that "The best way to tackle Islamophobia is to speak out against it. Unfortunately, too many politicians are either silent in the face of Islamophobia or muted in their responses to overt anti-Muslim sentiment or discrimination. If news had broken last week of an explosive device that detonated in a white Christian church, Trump and politicians on both sides of the aisle would have bent over backwards to condemn the attack."



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