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7990Islamophobia in America

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  • Zafar Khan
    Apr 8, 2007
      Islamophobia: A Call to Confronting a Creeping Disease
      First Published 2007-03-30


      The last time a world religion was considered a
      problem and a question was in late-nineteenth-century
      Europe. Then, the eJewish Questionf was widely
      debated by both the enlightened and bigots among
      European thinkers, says Louay Safi.

      President Bush reacting to the unearthing of the
      alleged bombing plot over the Atlantic August 10
      remarked: "This nation is at war with Islamic fascists
      who will use any means to destroy those of us who love
      freedom, to hurt our nation."

      On Aug. 7, during a press conference from his ranch in
      Texas, he said terrorists "try to spread their
      jihadist message - a message I call ... Islamic
      radicalism, Islamic fascism". A moment later, he said
      "Islamo-fascism" was an "ideology that is real and
      profound". White House spokesman Tony Snow told the
      gAtlanta Journal-Constitutionh Aug. 11 that the
      president will continue to use the phrase.

      This is not the first time that Bush and members of
      his Administration have used this deliberate coupling
      of Islam with evil ideologies or actions, such as
      fascism or terrorism. Bush referred to
      gIslamo-fascismh in his address to the National
      Endowment for Democracy, Oct. 6, 2005. Sen. Rick
      Santorum (R-PA) addressing Christians United for
      Israel (CUFI) held their first Washington-Israel
      Summit in Washington D.C., July 2006, declaring
      gIslamic fascism is a mosaicch

      Media baron Rupert Murdoch pontificated in Sydney,
      Australia June 26, 2006: "You have to be careful about
      Muslims who have a very strong, in many ways a fine,
      but very strong religion which supercedes any sense of
      nationalism wherever they go."

      The term is coined, and was initially used, by radical
      Zionist pundits and their allies in the Far Right, and
      is intended to drive a wedge between Western and
      Muslim communities. The fact that it is already being
      used by President Bush and his top lieutenant
      underscore the extent to which Islamophobia is
      gradually creeping into public discourse.

      Blaming Islam and Muslims for the rise of terrorism
      that threatens the U.S. and the West is at the heart
      of the strategy developed by individuals and groups
      whose systemic attacks on Islam and Muslims, borne out
      of either ignorance or hatred, constitute the recent
      and painful reality : Islamophobia.

      Islamophobia reflects an attitude and a posture
      normally associated with the Far Right, but that has
      been creeping slowly to the center of political
      debate. Islam and Muslims are separated out from the
      citizenry and increasingly presented as a problem to
      be addressed and a question to be tackled. The last
      time a world religion was considered a problem and a
      question was in late-nineteenth-century Europe. Then,
      the gJewish Questionh was widely debated by both the
      enlightened and bigots among European thinkers.

      Islamophobia is a strategic weapon in the campaign to
      marginalize Muslim Americans by ideological extremists
      and paranoid bigots. On one level, Islamophobia stems
      from ignorance, deception, and misrepresentation. On a
      deeper level, however, it stems from a very basic
      human instinct to dominate, exploit, and abuse,
      combined with a scrupulous attitude that refuse to
      recognize moral principles and boundaries. While
      Islamophobia has existed since centuries, perhaps the
      term became public in Europe in the 1990s.

      The twentieth century witnessed great struggles all
      over the world to overcome bigotry and racism, and to
      create more open and inclusive societies in which
      different races, ethnicities, and religions live
      side-by-side and cooperate for the betterment of
      society. After many devastating tragedies and wars,
      including two world wars that wiped out more than 80
      million people, a holocaust, and a long civil rights
      struggle, chauvinism, racism, and bigotry were finally
      condemned, though not totally rejected. By the
      mid-twentieth century, the concept that individuals
      must be treated on the basis of their individual
      characters and actions, and that no individual or
      group should be targeted on the basis of religious,
      ethnic, racial, or national affiliations became widely

      Therefore, the recent efforts that aim at presenting
      Islam as a challenge and Muslims who practice their
      faith as a problem are both disheartening and
      disquieting. They represent a dangerous move to
      reverse human progress and return to the age of
      outright racism and intolerance. This renewed focus on
      Islam as a problem has been justified by invoking
      security concerns. Many voices, particularly within
      the U.S. policymaking community, either out of
      ignorance or prejudice, decided to place the blame for
      terrorism squarely at the door of Islam.

      The decision to ignore complex and painful realities
      that give rise to discord and tension between Western
      and Muslim countries, and to blame it all on a major
      world religion and its practitioners, will only
      exacerbate an already dire situation. This exercise in
      self-delusion can only distract us from confronting
      the real sources of the concerns on both sides and
      delay the efforts to bring forth a permanent and
      lasting solution. Meanwhile, tremendous resources are
      wasted, and the credibility and prestige of the United
      States are being undermined.

      The failure to understand the profound changes taking
      place in the Muslim world is not simply a matter of
      ignorance and lack of insight into Muslim cultures,
      but a reflection of the bewildering stubbornness of
      neoconservative analysts in the U.S. and Europe, and
      their comfort in employing the archaic Orientalist
      attitudes and tools to analyze relationships between
      the West and the Muslim world. Muslims are not awarded
      the dignity of equal human beings with intrinsic
      values and legitimate concerns, but are often
      presented as thoughtless and violent masses incapable
      of articulating their conditions and solving their
      problems. Consequently, no effort is made to initiate
      dialogue and exchange, and all energy is focused on
      devising strategies for the manipulation and control
      of the Muslim world.

      Many self-proclaimed experts on Islam continue to
      behave as if Islam and Muslims are a distant part of
      reality and an external problem to address, rather
      than partners for dealing with common problems and
      challenges. An increasing number of Muslims are proud
      Americans, serving American society as professors,
      businessmen, medical doctors, engineers, lawyers,
      sports stars, firefighters, police officers, and
      teachers. Many experts in Middle East and Islamic
      Studies departments have their ancestral roots in
      Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures. Many Muslim
      Americans are active in the debate on how best to
      bridge the divide, or at least change the perceptions
      of a divide, between the Muslim world and the West.

      Muslim Americans are well positioned to expose the
      deceptions of power hungry unilateralists, and bridge
      the divide between Muslim and Western countries. They
      equally reject the bigoted spirit of exclusivist
      ideologies that use religion in all its forms as a
      weapon for achieving political supremacy, and demonize
      and dehumanize political opponents. Muslim Americans
      should take a firm and resolute stance against
      individuals and groups that use violence and terror
      against civilians in the name of religion, and condemn
      all campaigns of terrorism by groups like al-Qaeda, as
      they do condemn those who justify violence and
      aggression against Muslims in the name of biblical
      prophecies and religious supremacy.

      The time has come for the world to undertake a
      profound shift in political thinking and practice,
      similar to the one achieved in Europe in modern times.
      A democratic and free Europe came to life when the
      feudal system that privileged a small class of
      European elites was rejected and replaced with a
      system based on political equality and the rule of
      law. A democratic and free world will be achieved when
      the current political structure that perpetuates
      political and economic disparity is replaced with one
      in which all are equally treated under international
      law, and have fairly equal access to international

      For two centuries, America has shown that it is
      capable of transcending its limitations and marching
      behind those who struggle to realize the ideals of
      freedom, justice, and equality. And throughout its
      history, America stood behind those who fought for
      equal rights and equal dignity against self-centered
      groups that wanted to preserve their privileges.
      American Muslims must take a firm stand against the
      militant Religious Right that is bent on denying them
      the equal dignity they deserve. As long as they uphold
      the values of freedom, justice, and equal dignity for
      all, and reach out to other fellow Americans who share
      with them deep commitment to these values, they are
      destined, with the grace of God, to defeat the
      unscrupulous and mean-spirited attacks led by hate
      mongers and religious bigots.

      Dr. Louay M. Safi writes and lectures on issues
      relating to Islam, American Muslims, democracy, and
      human rights, leadership, and world peace. His
      commentaries are available at his Blog: Insight.

      'Anti-Muslim rhetoric' cited after vandalism at mosque
      in UA area
      By Stephanie Innes
      Arizona Daily Star
      Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.05.2007


      Officials with the Islamic Center of Tucson say a
      recent rise in "anti-Muslim rhetoric" may have spurred
      vandalism at the University of Arizona-area mosque.

      Tucson Police Department detectives are investigating
      a Sunday-night break-in at the mosque during which
      someone smashed the lock on a side door, broke an
      office window, ransacked the office and wrote "Bush
      was here" in magic marker across a computer screen.
      Nothing was stolen, mosque officials said.

      Mosque spokesman Muhammad As'ad said officials don't
      know if Sunday's incident is related to the theft of
      $1,000 from the mosque two months ago. The money
      disappeared after funds collected during a Friday
      service weren't immediately deposited at the bank,
      As'ad said.
      He said it's possible Sunday's break-in was a hate
      "There's an increasing obsession with Islam that's
      been stirred up by a small cadre of people," he said.
      "The obsession is growing because of events overseas.
      We deplore the hate speech going on. After all,
      Muslims, like Christians, are encouraged to love their
      As'ad said an example of the "anti-Muslim rhetoric"
      was former CNN reporter Steven Emerson's December
      lecture at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Though
      he denied the accusations, local Muslims accused
      Emerson of being a disingenuous "fear-monger" who
      carelessly interchanges the words "Muslim" and
      Emerson spoke here as part of the UA's Shaol Pozez
      Memorial Lectureship Series, sponsored by the
      university's Center for Judaic Studies. The title of
      his speech was "The Grand Deception: Militant Islam,
      the Media and the West." Emerson contends that groups
      representing themselves as mainstream Muslims often
      have terrorist ties.
      As'ad said in addition to the Emerson talk, he's
      noticed anti-Muslim attitudes on local radio talk
      shows. He stressed that, in general, the Tucson
      community has been supportive of the local Muslim
      community following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist
      attacks, though there have been incidents of
      name-calling, particularly involving local women
      wearing head scarves, in which people told them to "go
      The Arizona Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic
      Relations wants the FBI to investigate the mosque
      break-in. FBI officials said they're aware of the
      incident and are in regular contact with the mosque,
      but there's no active investigation.
      œ Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or at

      Muslim Workers Leave Goldfn Plump Over Prayer Time
      Apr 04, 2007 -- 10:59 AM CDT
      Abdi Aynte


      For eight months, Issak Horor delayed his floating
      break time to say his dusk prayers. That was until
      Sunday, when his employer, Goldfn Plump, a St.
      Cloud-based chicken processing company, told him that
      he wasnft eligible to do that anymore.

      gI told them that God made me eligible to pray five
      times a day,h said Horor in a telephone interview
      from his home in Rochester.

      Horor, 25, is one of three workers who left the
      companyfs Arcadia, Wis., facility Monday over the
      prayer time dispute. At least two other workers quit
      in solidarity with their fellow Muslims.

      Horor said he feels he was forced out. gThey asked me
      to not delay my break time or to hand in my badge,h
      he said. gHaving bad and worse options, I chose the
      bad one: to hand in my badge.h

      Julie Berling, a spokeswoman for Goldfn Plump, said
      the company was able to accommodate most workers who
      needed to pray with a new floating schedule.

      gHowever, due to unavoidable production line
      limitations, a few employees were put on the waiting
      list for a floating break schedule,h Berling said in
      an e-mail message.

      Horor said his employer failed to understand that his
      strict prayer schedule canft be put on a waiting

      The case is the latest in a series of workplace and
      religion collisions involving pious Muslims. A cashier
      at Target recently refused to scan pork products for
      customers, and some cabbies at the airport were
      shunning passengers with alcohol. Islam bans the
      consumption of pork and alcohol.

      Horor and other workers who left the company worked
      the night shift -- the shift with the least prayer
      requirements in the Muslim faith. He said the only
      prayer he needed to say during his shift was the dusk
      prayer, but his scheduled break fell at 1 a.m. in the
      morning. Goldfn Plump allowed him and other Muslim
      workers to delay that break until 6 a.m., when the
      dusk prayer is due.

      On April 1, the company issued a new policy that
      continued that culture for most employees. Horor and a
      few others were left out. gThough we assured these
      few employees that we were committed to accommodating
      their needs, they were unwilling to give us the time
      necessary to accommodate them and voluntarily resigned
      from their positions,h Berling said.

      Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employers are
      required to provide a reasonable accommodation of
      their employees' religious observations, unless that
      creates an undue hardship to the business. Itfs not
      clear whether that law was violated in this case. Just
      last month, new legislation that would make it easier
      for employees to practice their faith in the workplace
      was introduced in the Congress.

      gI donft think itfs reasonable to ask employees to
      not pray for a while,h said Valerie Shirley,
      communications director for the Minnesota chapter of
      the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is
      handling the case. She said she is trying to speak
      with Goldfn Plump officials about the matter and to
      supply them with gAn Employer's Guide to Islamic
      Religious Practices," a booklet about Muslims in the

      Employee Dispute Leads To Complaint Against BMW
      Harassment Complaint Follows 'Religious' Dispute

      POSTED: 4:56 pm EDT April 3, 2007
      UPDATED: 3:23 pm EDT April 4, 2007


      GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A Muslim civil rights group says
      BMW ignored religious harassment between employees,
      but WYFF News 4 has learned that there is more to this

      News 4's Gordon Dill has been looking into the
      complaint -- a fight between an Israeli Christian and
      a Muslim. Both men were contract workers at BMW.

      The 65-year-old Muslim man told deputies he was
      washing his hands in the bathroom at BMW when the
      41-year-old Israeli man put a box cutter to his throat
      and threatened to kill him.

      The Muslim man then called the Council on
      American-Islamic Relations and said there was a
      pattern of harassment by BMW employees.

      According to a spokesman, the council had received
      reports of other incidents not only involving the
      Israeli man but other employees as well.

      But the Israeli man and his alleged victim may have
      known each other for years.

      The Muslim man's nephew and that same Israeli man were
      business partners in a Duncan restaurant and as far
      back as 1996, there was a police report alleging that
      one man punched the other.

      In its official statement, BMW alluded to that

      The statement said, "... It appears the two
      individuals have a long personal history, including
      being business partners in the past."

      WYFF News 4 tried contacting that alleged victim and
      his nephew, but they didn't return calls.

      Dill did find the Israeli man, who said he couldn't
      appear on camera or even reveal where he lives because
      he fears Muslims will "put a bomb on his porch."

      "This isn't about BMW. It's about religion," the man

      BMW said it has started its own investigation

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked
      the FBI to start its own hate crime investigation.

      Islamic group wants BMW plant incident investigated as
      hate crime
      The Associated Press


      GREER, S.C. --A Muslim man at the BMW plant in Greer
      told authorities a co-worker threatened to cut his
      throat, prompting a national Islamic group to ask the
      incident be investigated as a possible hate crime.

      Abdulwahab Ahmed, 65, said a man approached him in a
      restroom at the plant and held a box cutter to his
      throat, according to a Spartanburg County sheriff's

      The man, whose name was removed from the report, told
      Ahmed that he would kill him before making a slashing
      motion as he lifted the box cutter from Ahmed's neck,
      the report said.

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Ahmed
      also claims other plant employees repeatedly made
      anti-Muslim comments, including a statement that
      Muslims "should all be killed."

      "There have been a number of comments based on the
      alleged victims' religion," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim
      Hooper said. "We call on authorities and the FBI to
      investigate this disturbing incident as a possible
      hate crime."

      A message left for Ahmed at his home was not
      immediately returned Tuesday.

      Authorities are not calling the incident a hate crime
      at this point, but are investigating, sheriff's
      spokesman Maj. Dan Johnson said.

      FBI spokesman Tom O'Neill refused to say if federal
      agents are investigating.

      BMW said the two men involved in the bathroom incident
      were employees of a plant subcontractor, were business
      partners in the past and had a long personal history.

      "BMW security is cooperating with our subcontractor
      and the Sheriff's Department to ensure the continuing
      safe working environment of all personnel at the BMW
      plant," public relations manager Bobby Hitt said in a

      Mosque: Graffito may be hate crime
      Tucson Citizen


      Intruders targeted a Tucson mosque Sunday, the second
      time in less than two months, said mosque officials,
      who are starting to ask questions.
      "We are beginning to wonder if this is a hate crime,"
      said Muhammad As'ad, spokesman for the Islamic Center
      of Tucson, where the crimes took place.

      The latest incident at the center at 901 E. First St.,
      near the University of Arizona campus, was a
      ransacking of the mosque office, according to a news
      release Tuesday from the Arizona chapter of the
      Council on American-Islamic Relations.
      A message - "Bush was here" - was hand-written with a
      marker on a computer monitor, the release said.
      Tucson police confirmed the mosque reported a burglary
      Monday and the incident is under investigation.
      Two months ago, thieves broke into the mosque and
      stole about $1,000, the release said.
      The only TPD report that coincided with that date was
      an embezzlement reported Feb. 17, a TPD spokesman
      said. No information on that report was available
      CAIR-AZ civil rights director Mohammed AbuHannoud said
      the council has asked the FBI to assist in the TPD
      investigation, but the FBI has no record of the
      request, an FBI spokeswoman said.
      Deborah McCarley said the FBI had no record of
      CAIR-AZ's request, adding that just because "Bush was
      here" was scrawled on a computer monitor does not
      automatically classify the incident as a hate crime.
      "I don't know if that in and by itself would make it a
      hate crime," she said Tuesday. "I know of no
      investigation that we're involved in at this time.
      "It's unfortunate when any mosque or church is
      vandalized," McCarley added, "but it's not always a
      hate crime. Many are vandalized and broken into not
      necessarily as a hate crime but because you have
      vandals and thieves."
      The center was in the news at the end of last year
      when a former imam, Omar Shahin, and four other Muslim
      scholars were barred from a US Airways flight in
      Minneapolis after fellow passengers complained that
      the Muslims appeared suspicious because they had
      kneeled and said prayers before boarding.
      As'ad said the center may make changes, regardless of
      the crimes' classification.
      "We are in the process of discussing increased
      security," he said. "But this is a good community.
      Very tolerant, a very good community."

      Catholic church defaced with anti-Arab graffiti
      Jim Lynch / The Detroit News
      Wednesday, April 04, 2007


      WARREN -- At a time when nearly 200 families of St.
      Mary's -- Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of
      the East were preparing to celebrate the move into a
      new facility, church leaders and members are dealing
      with issues of hate and, perhaps, mistaken identity.

      Vandals defaced the outside of the congregation's new
      church, at 4320 14 Mile, by spraying anti-Arab threats
      onto the building. The church is scheduled to host its
      first Mass May 6 after nearly 20 years at its location
      on Toepfer Road.

      Construction crews discovered the vandalism Monday

      Among the messages left in blue and black paint were
      "1 God Jesus" and "Arabs Die." Most were left at the
      rear of the building.

      "It's not so much anger I feel but more a sense of
      disappointment," said Ashurina Mirza, a 21-year-old
      member of the congregation whose father helped build
      the original church two decades ago.

      "To know that the people in our church poured their
      hearts and souls into something and see someone try to
      destroy it it's disappointing."

      The religious undertones of the messages left on the
      church suggested perpetrators who are anti-Muslim. But
      church members, as the name suggests, are Catholics.

      And the number of crosses adorning the building,
      including a giant wooden cross over the western
      entrance, would seem to make it clear St. Mary's is a
      Christian church.

      Inside the church's entryway are writings that may
      appear Arabic, but they are actually Aramaic.

      The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is looking
      into the incident and plan to offer assistance to
      church members and the community at large.

      "These kinds of things are generally not based on
      people airing legitimate concerns," said Harold Core,
      a department spokesman.

      Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh issued a statement
      Tuesday: "This kind of vandalism sickens me. People of
      all religions have the right to worship without having
      to put up with this kind of hatred. "

      Warren Police Chief Jere Green said he will increase
      patrols around places of worship in the area. Anyone
      with information regarding the vandalism should call
      police at (586) 574-4776.
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