Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Consequences of Islamophobia

JOHN ESPOSITO: The Consequences of Islamophobia, in the U.S. and Abroad
John EspositoThe July 2011 massacre in Norway was a tragic signal of a metastasizing social cancer — Islamophobia. The Norwegian assassin, Anders Behring Breivik’s, 1500-page manifesto confirmed the dangerous consequences of hate speech that has been spread by American and European xenophobes and websites that are quoted hundreds of times in his fear-filled tract.

Because the small number of extremists responsible for 9/11 and terrorist attacks in Europe and the Muslim world legitimated their acts in the name of Islam, we have seen an exponential increase in the past ten years of hostility and intolerance towards fellow Muslim citizens. This hatred threatens the democratic fabric of American and European societies and impacts not only the safety and civil liberties of Muslims but also, as the attacks in Norway demonstrate, the safety of all citizens.

The broad spectrum of preachers of hate that include politicians, media commentators, Christian Zionist ministers, and biased media and internet sites exploit legitimate concerns about domestic security and engage in a fear-mongering that conflates Islam and the majority of Muslims with a small but deadly minority of militants. The Gallup World Poll revealed that 57% of Americans when asked what they admired about Islam said “nothing” or “I don’t know.” So. too, a Washington Post poll revealed that a shocking 49% of Americans view Islam unfavorably.

In the US, the 2008 presidential elections and the 2010 Congressional elections were marred by politicians like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle who grabbed headlines, using Muslims as convenient scapegoats. Gingrich created a reality that doesn’t exist by calling for a federal law barring US courts from considering Islamic Law as a replacement for U.S. law. Sharron Angle nearly topped him when she falsely suggested that Frankford, Tex., and Dearborn, Mich., were subject to a “Sharia” regime. Park 51 (the so-called “mosque at ground zero”) and anti-mosque and anti-Shariah hysteria across the country revealed the extent to which Islamophobia has gone mainstream in communities from New York to California. In the wake of this irrational emotion and fear, major polls by Time Magazine and The New York Times in August 2010 reported that 33% of those polled believed that Muslim Americans were more sympathetic to terrorists and, in general, 60% of those polled have negative feelings about Muslims.

Despite all the paranoia, what objectively do we know about Muslim Americans? What does empirical evidence tell us? In contrast to the charges that Muslims cannot integrate and cannot be loyal citizens, a major Pew Research Center study (2007) found that most Muslim Americans are “decidedly American” in income, education and attitudes, rejecting extremism by larger margins than Muslim minorities in Europe. Similarly, a 2009 Gallup report found that 70% of Muslim Americans have a job compared with 64% of the US population.

Muslim men have one of the highest employment rates of religious groups. After Jews, Muslims are the most educated religious community in the US. Muslim women are as likely as their male counterparts to have a college degree or higher. 40% of women have a college degree as compared to 29% of Americans overall. And how do these Muslims in their communities fight terrorism? Not only did tips from Muslim Americans provide information that helped authorities thwart terrorist plots, but also, as the Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security’s study noted, “Muslim Americans have been so concerned about extremists in their midst that they have turned in people who turned out to be undercover informants.” This study also found that the number of Muslim Americans who were arrested for perpetrating terrorist acts dropped from 47 in 2009 to 20 in 2010. (pdf)

Despite much evidence to the contrary, Congressman Peter King, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, held controversial hearings on “Radicalization of Muslim Americans,” using legitimate concerns about national security for political gain. King has been consistent in his undocumented claims. In a 2004 interview with Sean Hannity he charged that “no American Muslim leaders are cooperating in the war on terror,” and that “80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.” When challenged, he staunchly insisted, without providing any data or citing any government reports: “I’ll stand by that number of 85 percent. This is an enemy living amongst us”.King and others like him also ignore statements by key government officials like FBI Director Robert S Mueller III, US Attorney General Eric H Holder, and Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, who have all praised the Muslim American community for playing an instrumental role in assisting law enforcement agencies. As Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor to the President commented to Muslims in a speech framing the Obama administration’s strategy to successfully prevent violent extremism:

“You create jobs and opportunity as small business owners and executives of major corporations. You enrich our culture as athletes and entertainers. You lead us as elected officials and Members of Congress. And no one should ever forget that Muslim Americans help keep America safe every day as proud Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Indeed, some of these heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and now rest in our hallowed national cemeteries.”
Like other Americans, Muslims also were victims; they too lost loved ones and friends in the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, they have seen their religion vilified and many in the mainstream Muslim majority have been victims of serious abuses — racial profiling, overzealous and illegal arrests and detentions, surveillance, wiretapping and trials using “secret evidence”. A campaign of ethnic profiling followed 9/11. Five thousand Arab and Muslim foreign nationals detained, 8,000 sought out for FBI interviews, 82,000 called in for special registration, not because they were terrorists, but because they were foreigners from Arab or Muslim countries. And still today, the use of tactics such as aggressive informants to “manufacture” crimes in Muslim communities, wiretaps, surveillance and monitoring of mosques without probable cause also remain a source of intimidation and fear. Yet, despite these extreme measures, as the FBI and Homeland Security have stressed, the majority of Muslims remain an integrated part of the American mosaic. It is time to digest the real, verifiable facts, to stop wasting energies on the wrong “enemies” and to use our collective strength to focus, together, on solving the very real problems that America is facing in the 21st century.
John Esposito is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He is also the director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.