Islamophobia 101

Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims

On International Human Rights Day, December 10th 2013, the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) have released a major new report into the growing problem of online hate targeting the Muslim community. The full report, titled ‘Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims’, is available below as a free download.

The report examines anti-Muslim hate on Facebook and was produced by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, Australia’s only charity entirely dedicated to the growing problem of online hate. We thank the Islamic Council of Victoria, the peak body representing Victoria’s Muslim community, who we consulted regularly in the preparation of this report. The report follows previous major works by OHPI examining online hate against Indigenous Australians, the Jewish Community, and the ANZACs and Military Veterans. (more…)

The biblical prophet Isaiah talked about turning swords into plowshares. Leave it to a bunch of Idahoites to turn bullets into bullshit. In the online world of chickenhawkers of nonsense, you are now able to buy pork-laced ammunition. The theory (I hesitate to use this term for such a potato-head notion) is that if a Muslim jihadi is shot with one of these bullets he will, of course, go straight to hell. Here is the rationale on the “about us” of their website:

History of dealings with radical Islam from the days of Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates to actions of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in the early 1900’s in the Philippines gave clarity to a modern day market solution-Jihawg Ammo. Our preference is peace first but if a fight is to be had we are determined and resolved to win. Thus came the beginning of the truest form of defensive ammunition ever created in history.

A natural deterrent that prevents violence just by owning it but will strike fear into the hearts of those bent upon hate, violence and murder. Jihawg Ammo is certified “Haraam” or unclean. According to the belief system of the radical Islamist becoming “unclean” during Jihad will prevent their attaining entrance into heaven. Jihawg Ammo is a natural deterrent to radical and suicidal acts of violence.

Our Porcine Coating (Pattern Pending) is infused with the highest quality pork product made right here in America. Jihawg Ammo is produced in the great state of Idaho.

We at Jihawg Ammo hope you will stock up on Jihawg as a natural deterrent to the ever growing threat of radical Islam and Sharia Law. We, however, stress that the nullifying principle of our product is only effective if you are attacked by an Islamist in Jihad. Otherwise, our ammo functions just like any other ammunition so we obviously insist upon defensive use of our ammo only-not offensive.

I suppose it is a comfort that this ammo is only for defense, but then it is sad indeed that those folk who think Obama is a Muslim and the U.S. Supreme Court is about to institute shariah law are also convinced that the Moslems will soon be staging operations in their own backyard (now that the commies decided not to come and rape our women, after all). Perhaps in addition to gun control, we also need dumb-ass control.

The moral ambiguity of Homeland or Argo is a fitting tribute to the reality of US Middle East policy

by Rachel Shabi, The Guardian, Monday 14 January 2013

America’s Middle East policy has been enthusiastically endorsed. Not at the UN or Arab League, however, but by the powerbrokers of Hollywood. At the Golden Globes, there were gongs for a heroically bearded CIA spook saving hostages and American face in Iran (the film Argo); a heroically struggling agent tracking down Bin Laden (Zero Dark Thirty) and heroically flawed CIA operatives protecting America from mindless, perpetual terror (TV series Homeland).

The three winners have all been sold as complex, nuanced productions that don’t shy away from hard truths about US foreign policy. And liberal audiences can’t get enough of them. Perhaps it’s because, alongside the odd bit of self-criticism, they are all so reassuringly insistent that, in an increasingly complicated world, America just keeps on doing the right thing. And even when it does the wrong thing – such as, I don’t know, torture and drone strikes and deadly invasions – it is to combat far greater evil, and therefore OK.

When I saw Argo in London with a Turkish friend, we were the only ones not clapping at the end. Instead, we were wondering why every Iranian in this horribly superior film was so angry and shouty. It was a tense, meticulously styled depiction of America’s giant, perpetual, wailing question mark over the Middle East: “Why do they hate us?” Iranians are so irked by the historically flimsy retelling of the hostage crisis that their government has commissioned its own version in response.

Zero Dark Thirty, another blanked-out, glossed-up portrayal of US policy, seems to imply that America’s use of torture – sorry, “enhanced interrogation” – is legitimate because it led to the capture of Osama bin Laden (something that John McCain and others have pointed out is not even true). Adding insult to moral bankruptcy, the movie has been cast as a feminist film, because it has a smart female lead. This is cinematic fraud: a device used to extort our approval. (more…)

[Click here to download the recent publication of the Muslim Public Affairs Council exposing the lack of credentials of the [mis]leading Islam[ophobic] experts.]

For the benefit of national security and the American public at large, we must ensure that those people speaking about terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam are qualified. At a minimum, individuals who speak about Islam and its co-opting by violent extremists need to be properly informed and qualified.

To date, groundbreaking research into the anti-Muslim hate industry has been conducted by the Center for American Progress and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their research focuses primarily on anti-Muslim hate activists’ sources of funding and their possible connections to other forms of hate. No study that we know of has focused on the qualifications of the so-called experts on Islam and Muslim violent extremists.

This study seeks to fill in this research gap by focusing the academic qualifications of 25 individuals who comprise some of the most vocal voices and activists in the anti-Muslim circuit. We specifically focus on highly visible personalities who engage in anti-Islam rhetoric and who frequently and inaccurately speak not only about extremist Muslims, or even Muslims at large, but who also claim to be knowledgeable about the fundamental beliefs and tenets of the Islamic faith.

The study asks the question: Do these individuals have the formal academic credentials to back their explicit and implicit claims of expertise on Islam?

Poster from American Freedom Defense Initiative

Poster from Rabbis for Human Rights

[The following commentary has just appeared on Anthropology News in my blog there called “Middle East Muddle.: I provide the first paragraph, and the rest of the commentary can be read here.]

In the late 19th century there was little doubt about the gulf between “civilized man” and the “savage,” as anyone reading John Lubbock or Edward Tylor or Lewis Henry Morgan would readily note. Anthropology has come a long way since the cultural evolution scenarios that followed immediately upon the Darwinian revolution in biology. By the time Claude Lévi-Strauss penned Tristes Tropiques in 1955, the tables had turned, with so-called “civilized man” seen as acting the “savage.” Anyone reading Bartolemé de las Casas on the Spanish atrocities in the New World in the early 16th century could have come to the same conclusion. So it is quite un-anthropological today to encounter a poster in the New York subway system about the “war between the civilized man and the savage,” let alone to be urged to “support the civilized man.” Yet, this is the message paid for by the “American Freedom Defense Initiative.”

For the rest of this post, click here.

Since writing this, several groups are now running counter ads in the subways. For more on this, see the commentary by Omid Safi.

A few months ago, before Big Bird got his “laid off” notice from Mitt Romney, the state of Kansas passed a law “to prevent Kansas courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes.” This passed by 33-3 in the Kansas senate and 120-0 in the Kansas House. Despite the fact that there is no indication that anyone ever tried to use Islamic sharia or any other “foreign” legal system to thwart existing law in Kansas, the legislators thought it prudent just in case. Despite the fact that the U.S. legal system does not allow any other kind of legal jurisdiction to trump it, who knows how many Muslim clerics may be thinking about moving to Kansas and issuing fatwas. Although Kansas is not the only Republican-controlled state legislature to declare jihad on Islamic law, it does have a reputation for reacting to other great moral dangers in our country, like the teaching of scientific evolution rather than creation in science classrooms. When the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz blurted out ” I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*!”, who would have known how much like the Kansas legislators he was.

Perhaps the Kansas politicians think that after Iran’s Ahmadinejad spoke (and spooked, of course) at the United Nations in liberal New York City that he might turn himself into the Wicked Witch of the East and start chopping hands of thieves and stoning men and women who engage in adultery (which does not appear to have reached epidemic proportions yet in Kansas but could if more Democrats are elected). Of course, this is not about hating Islam (a religion that in some respects can look a like that of the God-fearing Mormons not far away in Utah), but to protect the women of Kansas. As Republican State Senator Susan Wagle expressed it,

“In this great country of ours and in the state of Kansas, women have equal rights,” Wagle said during the Senate’s debate. “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”

Apart from the fact that the vast majority of countries that use Islamic law do not in fact stone anyone for adultery, you never know who might cast the first stone in a state like Kansas. (more…)

An Egyptian protester tries to raise an Islamic flag at the U.S. embassy during a protest, in Cairo, Egypt on September 11, 2012. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA / September 13, 2012)

Violence in Egypt and Libya is more about local politics than Islam.

By Mimi Hanaoka, LA Times, September 13, 20121

The chaotic violence that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three American staffers in Libya, and that resulted in a mob storming the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, has been garbed in religious language and references. However, the religious rhetoric from all corners distracts from the real issues: serious domestic political fragmentation in Libya and Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and America’s place in the region.

Media attention has focused on a polemic 14-minute movie trailer for “Innocence of Muslims” posted on YouTube, which prompted protests in Benghazi and Cairo. The film was allegedly produced by Sam Bacile, who has identified himself as an Israeli Jew. In the Wall Street Journal, Bacile called Islam a “cancer” and claimed he raised $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors to fund the film, details that only intensify the film’s polemic power.

The trailer, translated into Arabic and viewed thousands of times in the Middle East, portrays the prophet Muhammad as, among other things, a child abuser. Florida pastor and provocateur Terry Jones, who burned the Koran in 2011, claims to have screened the film; a self-described Christian militant in California claims to have consulted on it. (more…)

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the tragic loss of life on 9/11, the ugly outcome of hate in which people who had personally done nothing to offend the perpetrators lost their lives. Today we awake to hear that the American ambassador to Libya is dead; the American flag at the U.S. embassy in Cairo is torn to shreds. This is the same American diplomat who aided the Libyan revolution against Qaddafi; this is the same flag that is synonymous with the political notion of democracy. In both cases yesterday it was not a response to anything the United States government did or authorized, nor to any military action. A hate film, and a very poorly done one at that, had been posted on the Internet in which Islam and the prophet Muhammad are portrayed in an extremely negative way. The film, an excerpt of which can be seen here, is pathetic both as cinema and for its almost comical portrayal of Muslims. But it has provided an excuse for militants to once again harp on the specter of the United States against the Muslim world.

Were this film from a religious nutcase like Terry Jones, I suspect it would not have garnered as much attention. But it appears that the maker of the film is an Israeli backed by Jewish donors and promoted by an anti-Muslim Copt in California. How perfect is that for a conspiracy plot. Hateful films do not have to be good cinema to fuel hateful responses. But this time it is the role of the Internet that fuels the fire. Anyone can post a malicious film on Youtube and have it circle the globe in an instant. The solution is not to ban the Internet, which is impossible, nor to justify the actions of those who turn their anger into a killing spree. It is not possible to stop a Terry Jones from burning the Quran or any cinematic venom from being posted (at least temporarily), so the onus falls back on our own ethics. We need to think beyond the politics of hate, which have not been unleashed with a fury, to the politics of restraint.

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