Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anti-Islamists small in number, but influential beyond US

A report on the Islamophobia network in the United States released by the Washington-based Center for American Progress (CAP) has highlighted that although the sources that spread anti-Islam sentiments based on false information in the country are but a handful of people, their influence on American politics and public opinion reach beyond the US borders and reach distant corners of the world as well as extremists, including the Norwegian assailant who murdered 76 people in a matter of hours to underscore his claim that Islam is a threat to the world.

The extensive research, titled “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” was published in August with collaborative efforts by prominent experts of the center on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, which traumatized not only the US but the whole world when planes hijacked by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization brought down the World Trade Center towers, a scene that still haunts the American psyche to this day.

The center noted in the study that the anniversary of the tragic events might be an opportunity for right-wing extremists in the US to manipulate and “to ratchet up the nonexistent threat of Shariah and warn of apocalyptic dangers stemming from Muslims living in America,” while it claimed that the groups espousing anti-Islamic rhetoric were “small but effective,” with a reaching and extending influence over right-wing extremists across the world.

Commenting on the ability of right-wing media outlets on cable TV and more abundantly on the Internet to disseminate ideas of hate and intolerance against Muslim with belief that the followers of the faith have been conspiring to control the US, the study drew attention to the rhetoric of right-wing officials elected at a state and national level, who “put these myths as facts and then craft political fundraising campaigns and get-out-the-vote strategies based on debunked information about Muslims and Islam.”

The study also cited the politicians, think tanks, organizations and blogs that they believe have been influential in the spread of unfounded fears of Shariah taking over legal institutions in the US in depth, citing examples from speeches where famous US politicians render the Islamic faith a threat, and pointing to Islamic terrorism as the source of all evil in the country while turning a blind eye to the violence caused by non-Muslim assailants. In fact, according to the study, the “majority of terrorist plots in America since Sept. 11 have been committed by non-Muslims, particularly right-wing extremists and white supremacists.”

Politicians who promote fear-mongering in the country against Islam base their ideas on and mimic the language of so-called experts, who manufacture facts as they have been funded by particular organizations with “more than $42 million over ten years,” according to the report.

One of the ways politicians integrate the “manufactured facts” into the mainstream was believed to be through legislative actions and electoral debates, many of which make the news in the US and reach millions of viewers all over the world.

Acknowledging that the promoters of anti-Shariah legislations to be passed all over the country to defy the risks of Islam taking over US legal institutions “have failed to demonstrate a single case of Shariah infiltrating a US court,” the study claimed that the motive of the anti-Islamic crusade was to “create a distracting, fear-based political atmosphere in which conservatives are brave patriots and strong on defense, while liberals are weak and politically correct.” Furthermore, the findings of the study also revealed that the discourse stemming from the anti-Islam experts, campaigners and politicians in the US spread throughout the world, as clearly indicated by the references in the manifesto of the Norwegian anti-Islamic terrorist, who cited the US sources mentioned by the study over 100 times in his 1,500-page work of anti-Islamic propaganda.

Gülen schools subject to Islamophobic campaign

The study said the Eagle Forum, a movement that is entwining itself with the Islamophobia network, has labeled schools inspired by Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen as a threat of radical Islam.

Noting that the Eagle Forum partners with Brigitte Gabriel's ACT! for America and Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy to push anti-Muslim issues, particularly anti-Shariah hysteria, the study explained: “At its 2011 Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis, Missouri, for example, Gabriel, Gaffney, and others in the network revealed a new supposed threat: Muslim Gülen schools, which they claim would educate children through the lens of Islam and teach them to ‘hate Americans'.”

“Worse, the speakers alleged that President [Barack] Obama's support for charter school reforms was a back-door strategy for using taxpayer money to fund the schools,” it added. “Of course, Gülen schools are nothing of the sort. They are the product of moderate Turkish Muslim educators who want ‘a blend of religious faith and largely Western curriculum',” the study, nevertheless, maintained.

»» Click here to access original source of the report by Center for American Progress

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