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2010 another hard year for American Muslims

By       Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali     Permalink
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- An Alabama restaurant sign says: No Muslims Inside.(1)
- Nebrasca councilman places a sign on his property reading
  "Never Trust a Man Named Mohamed" (2)
- Ohio Muslim woman attacked near the mosque.(3)
- Ohio mosque received anti-Muslim e-mail.(4)
- Muslim religious leader called 'camel jockey,' 'terrorist' during attack in New York. (5)
- Colorado Muslim Republican switches parties over GOP bigotry. (6)

These recent incidents symbolize the dilemma of the seven-million-strong American Muslim community more than nine years after the 9/11 tragedy. Such frequent episodes are the result of almost a decade old demonization of Islam and Muslims by increasingly aggressive far-right groups and government-stocked xenophobia about Muslims. Across America, right wing radio hosts and preachers of many stripes have been cranking up their virulent rhetoric spreading hatred of Muslims. The constant vilification of Islam and Muslims over the air on radio talk shows, in newspapers and the Internet is contributing to the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment across the country. At the same time bigotry has become a major tool of the conservative movement as seen during the midterm elections.

The Oklahoma anti-Islam measure

Islam-bashing for political gain was a chilling feature of this year's election campaign and demagogues misled Oklahomans to pass an anti-Muslim ballot measure. The Oklahoma anti-Islam measure is one of the best examples of politicians duping the public through fear mongering. It is demonizing the Muslims in order to mobilize votes. The voters of Oklahoma were badly misled by demagogues into passing a profoundly un-American measure.

Demagoguery is defined as: "the practice of a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace." Oklahoma Rep. Rex Duncan's proposed the anti-Islam ballot measure, known as SQ 755, is a great example of this practice. When it was proposed, Sen. Anthony Sykes, a co-author, dubbed it the "Save Our State," amendment saying, "Sharia law coming to the U.S. is a scary concept."

The anti-Muslim frenzy strengthened by a media blitz by Muslim-basher Act! For America in support of the measure brought the desired results. While, nearly 70 percent of voters in the state cast ballots approving the measure, it also helped in posting historic gains for the Republicans in Oklahoma House and Senate after several Democratic incumbents were knocked out of office . Perhaps every Republican now imagines to have discovered the winning formula to either get reelected or unseat their Democratic opponent in the coming elections.

Not surprisingly, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange on November 29, 2010 granted an injunction that bars certification of the anti-Islam state ballot measure (SQ 755) passed in the November 2 election. If certified, the ballot measure would have amended Oklahoma State's constitution to forbid judges from considering Islamic principles or international law when deciding a case.

Islamophobia

Since 9/11, there has been a steady rise in Islamophobia, however during mid-term election campaign there was an exponential rise of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry. Many Religious Right leaders and opportunist politicians asserted over and over that Islam is not a religion at all but a political cult, that Muslims cannot be good Americans and that mosques are fronts for extremist "jihadis.' There was a substantial increase in the number of political candidates using Islamophobic tactics in an effort to leverage votes, and use such tactics as a platform to enhance their political visibility.

A few examples: A Minnesota Republican congressional candidate, Lynne Torgerson, says that the religion of Islam cannot be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, one of three Republican candidates running for governor, says Islam may be called a "cult" instead of a religion. Ron McNeil, a Florida congressional candidate tells local high and middle class students that Islam is against everything America stands for. Another Florida Republican candidate for Congress, Dan Fanelli, runs television ads in which he points to a white man and asks, "Does this look like a terrorist?" and then turns to an Arab-looking man and asks, "Or this?" A Texas congressional hopeful, Canyon Clowdus, wants no more Muslim immigration to America. The American Family Association also wants a halt to the immigration of Muslims into the U.S. to "protect our national security and preserve our national identity, culture, ideals and values."

As Dr. Habib Siddiqui points out, Islamophobia is no longer an isolated issue that is thriving in some bigotry-ridden corner in Europe. Thanks to its evil promoters, the beast has become a global phenomenon today. One such promoter is the group called Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE). The group has its American equivalent in Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which was created by anti-Muslim bloggers, bigots and militants Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. SIOE's motto is, "Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense." (7)

Bigotry and inciting hatred of Islam and Muslims is the substance of Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA). The patent office rejected SIOA's attempt to patent its trademark because of its anti-Muslim nature: The applied-for mark refers to Muslims in a disparaging manner because by definition it implies that conversion or conformity to Islam is something that needs to be stopped or caused to cease. One may recall that in 2008, SIOA's co-founder Pamela Geller announced that Barack Hussein Obama is not, as previously reported, the son of Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., but rather the illegitimate son of Malcolm X. In a 2009 blog she called for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Ground Zero Mosque

On September 11, the SIOA observed the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy with   "Stop the Mosque at Ground Zero." Geert Wilders , leader of the Netherlands' anti-Islam Freedom Party came to New York for the sole purpose of showing at the rally that was largly ignored by the media.

The inflammatory rhetoric surrounding the Park51 project popularly known as the Ground Zero Mosque, actually a cultural center and already approved by the New York City Planning Commission, has stirred hatred toward Muslims in America. There has been so much fear-mongering and so much misinformation in the debate peddled by bigots and rightwing politicians. The hate speech and fear-mongering has resulted in hate crimes against Muslims and their prayer centers.

The feverish discourse and manufactured controversy over the Ground Zero mosque generated anti-Muslim and anti-Islam public sentiments. A poll on August 29 by the extreme right San Diego, California 760 KFMB AM talk radio station indicated that 70% of those polled are in favor of forced registration for American Muslims in a national database. The same day a poll conducted by Chris Matthews show at the MSNBC revealed that more than half of Republicans polled say they have a negative attitude toward Islam, this compared to only 27% of Democrats. A  PEW Institute poll result released on August 24 corroborated the findings of Chris Mathews show. By more than two-to-one (54% to 21%), Republicans expressed an unfavorable opinion of Islam and by more than four-to-one (74% to 17%), Republicans say they agree more with those who object to the building of the Ground Zero Mosque. By contrast, more Democrats agree with the center's supporters than its opponents (by 47% to 39%).

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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