by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 7, Shawwal, 1432)
It would be reasonable to assume that most normal people would overcome their anger after a decade. Not so the Americans, and now the Europeans as well. Since the attacks of 9/11, the world has been turned upside down.
It would be reasonable to assume that most normal people would overcome their anger after a decade. Not so the Americans, and now the Europeans as well. Since the attacks of 9/11, the world has been turned upside down. Far from growing up, the level of vitriol and hatred against Muslims has increased alarmingly.
Washington unleashed wars on several Muslim countries and continues to threaten to extend the mayhem to others. It is only constrained by its military defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq and the financial ruin it faces because of such policies. But that has not acted as a bar to branding Muslims as the “enemy within”. Masjids are routinely attacked and vandalized in the US; Muslims are profiled and subjected to intrusive checks at airports. And on the air, racist venom is spouted by rightwing fascists, many of them rabid Zionists, that would never be tolerated against any other group — racial or religious.
Far from speaking out against such bigotry, American politicians of all stripes have joined the campaign to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria. Some have launched campaigns to stop the “imposition of Shari‘ah” in the US, without the slightest clue about what Shari‘ah means or where it is being imposed. Twenty states have introduced legislation to ban Shari‘ah while three states have actually passed it. David Yerushalmi, a Zionist and staunchly pro-Israel New York lawyer, who has claimed that whites are genetically superior to blacks, has written most of the “model” anti-Shari‘ah legislation.
Unruly mobs, egged on by Islamophobes like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, John Hagee, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and politicians like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and others of their ilk as well as the rightwing media (Fox News and Zionist-owned publications) have declared that mosques do not belong in America. This poisonous propaganda is not confined to places like Florida or Texas, breeding grounds for racists and bigots; it has also seeped into such liberal bastions as Massachusetts, Connecticut and California. Earlier this year, even some Congress members joined a hate rally targeting Muslims that had gathered in Orange County to raise funds for a battered women’s shelter. ACT! for America, the Pensacola-based anti-Islamic hate group, is joined by Qur’an burning pastors in Florida. It is not uncommon to see right-wing Christians carrying placards and yelling, “Jesus hates Muslims.” The noble Prophet Jesus (pbuh) has been turned into an Islamophobe (nastaghfirullah).
More ominously, right-wing groups like Political Research Associates, infested with right-wing ideologues masquerading as counter-terrorism specialists and experts on the Muslim world have been indoctrinating thousands of police, intelligence and military personnel in countrywide seminars. Conducted by organizations such as Security Solutions International, The Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, and International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, these seminars embrace gross and distorted stereotypes and propagate wild conspiracy theories. And the spread of much of this poisonous propaganda and indoctrination within the US law enforcement community is funded under two grant programs for training — the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative — which made $1.67 billion available to states in 2010. The seminars’ message is outrageously anti-Muslim: Islam is projected as a false religion that supports terrorism, that an Islamic “fifth column” or “stealth jihad” is subverting the US from within, that mainstream American Muslims have ties to terrorist groups, that Muslims use American laws and the Constitution to advance their subversive agenda and that their goal is to replace the American Constitution with Shari‘ah. The allegations would be laughable were they not so serious but this nonsense passes off for expert opinion.
Fear and paranoia have become the new parameters for every policy. The attacks of 9/11 have been declared the most catastrophic event ever to occur in US history and every Muslim wherever he/she may be, is held responsible for them. How many Muslims must be killed — one million, ten million — before the US’s lust for revenge is satiated?
Europe has its own crop of racists and bigots. Islamophobes like Dutch politician Geert Wilders and English Defence League chief Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) are joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkle in spouting anti-Muslim venom. Islamophobia has gone mainstream. It is easier to target a vulnerable group than to stand up for principles. To this toxic brew we must also add munafiq Muslims of both genders that seek their five minutes of fame by barking at Muslims and denigrating Islam.
While Muslims are the immediate victims, America will ultimately pay the price for such racism and bigotry.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought