Pushing ‘Islamophobia’ at UCLA

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Should an academic lecture on Sharia (Islamic law) become a platform for promoting fear of “Islamophobia”? This is exactly what occurred on April 14, 2011, when the University of California, Los Angeles, held the third and final lecture from Khaled Abou El Fadl—Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law and chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA—in the series, “Sharia Watch: AView from the Inside.” The lecture was cosponsored by UCLA’s School of Law, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Journal for Islamic and Near Eastern Law, and Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program.

The receptive audience of approximately 30 people consisted mostly of members of the local Muslim community and graduate students from UCLA’s Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department.

In her introductory remarks, UCLA law professor Asli Bali explained that the aim of the series was, “to better understand Sharia, as there is a lot of misinformation on what it is in the West.” But, as in previous lectures, only 15 minutes of the hour-long lecture were actually devoted to Sharia; the bulk of the lecture focused on Islamophobia in America and the West.

Abou El Fadl claimed that the phenomenon of Islamophobia is due to racism and that it originated in medieval Europe where, as he put it, “Jews and Muslims were repeatedly constructed in European literature as ‘folkloric monsters.’” This is incorrect, for both race and ethnicity were alien ideas in medieval Europe. In fact, the terms “race” and “racism” appeared for the first time in European belle-letters in the eighteenth century.

Continuing the anti-Western diatribe, Abou El Fadl later added that, “the construction of the racial and ethnic alien stems from the West’s ethnocentrism.” Of Islamic supremacy, he had nothing to say.

He even blamed the West for the very concept he was espousing:

The term ‘Islamophobia’ is inadequate as it is limited. Discourse on Islam has a long history but the word itself, Islam, is problematic for it is constructed and reconstructed by the West.

Without citing a single piece of evidence—and in contradiction to FBI statistics on anti-religious hate crimes—Abou El Fadl alleged that in the U.S., “every single week there are new victims of Islamophobia.”

Employing a false correlation popular among those advocating the view of Muslims as victims, Abou El Fadl insisted that Islamophobia is similar to anti-Semitism:

Those crazy right wing nuts who keep on telling the public that Muslims want to impose Sharia on Americans have in common[sic] with anti-Semites who to this day propel the ideas of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Betraying the disingenuousness of this comparison, Abou El Fadl and Basli later circulated a December 2010 Huffington Post article by leftist journalist Max Blumenthal alleging an “Islamophobic crusade” on the part of, among others, “right wing ultra-Zionists” and the “pro-Israel lobby.” Such rhetoric, paradoxically, hearkens back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was, they asserted, “great literature.”

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  • John

    Yes, you do want to impose Sharia on the West. If you say you don't you're a liar. So fess up and stop playing your little taqquia game. I don't hate Muslims but I'm very wary of anything Islam because it's wrong on it's foundation, goes against the Bible, is pretty much the opposite of what the Bible, the prophets and Yeshua teaches and does in no way correct the mistakes as you claim your Koran does. In other words, you cannot convince the majority of us of your lie. If that makes me, in your opinion, Islamophobic or racist against Islam then get a T-shirt, write Islamophobic on it and take my picture and I'll proudly wear it.

    • OLJingoist

      Make that two T's

  • Ken

    Agrees with John whole-heartedly!!

    • Michael Elmore

      I care more that it goes against the principle of our Constitution and values of Western Civilization than anyone's religion..elmore

      • John

        I agree Michael, but where do many of the principals of the Constitution or our laws come from? Always back to the source for me.

        • Rami

          Michael, those ideas come from enlightenment and classical liberalism. Private property, individual freedom and vigilant people who keep wary eye on their government.

  • Shel_TR

    (cont'd)

    And, as far as the posters here, my sentiment is doubled! There is no need for Torah vs. Koran!! There is no need for a divisive approach at all. (As a matter of fact, it is a self-defeating approach. I'm referring to a previous poster's mentions of "Bible" and "Yeshua", which indicate Messianic Judaism, i.e. a Jew-For-Jesus. If you had thought beforehand about making this an "us" vs. "them" contest, you'd find that Jewish readers, assuredly a large portion of the readers here, would not regard themselves part of your "we" clique. So your divisive approach results in even more divisions than you realized!! Your approach is counter-productive — to itself, and indeed to all.)

    We (supporters of Israel) say it all the time — we need moderate Muslims to speak-up against Islamists. Now that we have such an example, we must make common cause with them, encourage them. Making peace is difficult! But that is what we must do. "Rodef, rodef, rodef shalom" (chase, chase, chase peace)!!

  • Shel_TR

    Okay, people, take a deep breath and get a G-R-I-P!!

    Why does support of Israel so often lead to out-of-proportion defensiveness? As I shall show, in this case especially, it only alienates an (apparently) moderate Muslim, the kind that we're always clamouring for.

    The author's points are quite facile. E.G.: There was no indication that El Fadl supports the imposition of Sharia (actually, it seems likely that El Fadl opposes it), and there was equally no indication that El Fadl mentioned anything remotely supportive of Islamism. So why shouldn't the discussion of Sharia also explore Islamophobia?? And why should that bother any supporters of Israel? There is no doubt that medieval Europe (which fought for hundreds of years against the Muslim conquest after it swept through the Middle East) had a legitimate fear of Muslims. And there can be little dispute that ignorance among the masses of European peasants would have mutated that fear into a religion-based hatred (i.e. racism). By making quarrel over these minutia, instead of promoting common cause with a potential anti-Islamist ally, the author creates a sense of alienation.

    (to-be-continued)

    • zsqpwxxeh

      Shel, you are right. But there are many commenters on Frontpage, rightly and forthrightly opposing the jihad, who fall easily into demonizing the entire religion. Some of them believe that Islam is "Sharia," a militant totalitarian thought system that is trying to destroy Western Civilization. They do not understand that most of Islam, the vast majority of its leaders, and the overwhelming majority of Muslim faithful are neither engaged nor interested in militant jihad. They may be afraid of the militants (with good reason!) and they largely refrain from speaking out, which enrages the armchair warriors here all the more.

      U.S. policy since 2001 has been, wisely, to separate the jihadis from the religion of Islam as a whole. These guys unwittingly fall right into the enemy's ideological trap by conflating the two. What's even worse is that they confirm the jihadis' central claim that the radicals alone represent True Islam.

      • John

        Mainly it's because those "nice" Muslims you appear to have so much faith in are working over time to destroy Israel, and have altered the civilized world in ways that are going to be very difficult to put back into a normal and peaceful state. You must not fly very often. That's for starters. Those nice Muslims will side with the terrorists long before they will side with the "infidel." (That's anyone not Muslim.)

    • fmobler

      Who is being facile? El Fadl wildly inflates the US Muslim population, misrepresents the facts about religiously-based crime, ignores the root causes of medieval European fears of Islam, tells us not to be concerned with a juridical tradition that is antithetical to the West's hard-won human rights tradition, and spends most of his time not talking about sharia itself, but only about our "irrational" response to it.

      I am not afraid of Islam. But I don't quite see the point is "making common cause" with a liar.

  • sedoanman

    I think we should admit that we fear Islam. Then the questions become, whose fault is it, and is there justification?

  • sedoanman

    Re: "It is foolishness to make enemies out of the billions of Muslims in the world."

    I think you have it backwards. THEY have made US their enemies. It's in their holy book.

    • Shel_TR

      Admittedly, there ARE Muslims (surely many!) who have made us their enemies, you are correct.

      But I'd point-out that the Koran, whose anti-infidel (and vile anti-Jewish) passages provide a religious basis for their hatred of us, it also classifies Jews ("Keepers Of The Book") above other non-Muslims. And conversely, Avraham Avinu (i.e. the Torah) didn't treat the father of Islam, Ishmael, well at all. Abraham banished Ishmael and Hagar, essentially an attempt to execute them, and they committed no act or sin to possibly warrant such a brutal decision.

      Ultimately, if there is ever to be peace, it will be because we have MADE peace. We have friends among Islam. Let's make common cause with them.

      • sedoanman

        There is no compromise with dualistic ethics.

      • jonmc

        "it also classifies Jews ("Keepers Of The Book") above other non-Muslims". Yes, that is true, but unfortunately under orthodox Islamic interpretation that cosy idea is abrogated by this verse:

        9:29. Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Hilali-Khan translation).

        So whilst the Jews may be permitted their lives and property under Sharia, it is only under a contract of dhimmitude. Typically this was of similar form to the prototypical "Pact of Umar". Granted the enforcement of this varied depending on time and place, but no matter how stringently or otherwise the dhimma was enforced, even the "superior" Jews were second-class citizens with few or no civil rights – especially viz-a-viz Muslims.

  • sedoanman

    ISLAMISM is the enemy sounds the same as ISLAM is the enemy.

  • Alfonz Shmedlap

    Th., 05/05/11 common era

    Sharis is a barbaric form of “justice” that must never be tolerated in the USA. The Moslem Brotherhood is behind this putsch, with additional funding from Holocaust survivor George Soros. Instead of holding interfaith candlelight vigils, start demonstrating publicly against the imposition of Sharia in the USA.
    “Islam Uber Alles” is the philosophy of Islamo-fascism.

  • http://www.crusaderknight.blogspot.com James Pawlak

    The term or suffix "phobia" is used too widely and much too incorrectly in such terms as "homophobia" and, as to this note, "islamophobia".

    As to the latter term, the following quote is applicable: "A phobia is defined in Webster's dictionary as an "inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of subjects or situation.". Fear of Islamic extremism and its potentially catastrophic consequences is not inexplicable or illogical. It is a rational reaction to dangerous, irrational people who would use weapons of mass destruction to bring about their apocalyptic vision." (From Joseph Klien's "Playing The Islamophobic Card", "Front Page Magazine"; March 5, 2007.)

    I suggest that we all now substitute (In our daily use, in magazine/newspaper "Style Books", political speeches, sermons, etc.) the term "ISLAMOFORIA", where the term "foria" derives from the Greek and denotes a state of being-on-guard—Which is the proper response to Islam and all Muslims (Based on their "religious duty" to destroy our culture, government, nation and civilization).

  • http://dachte.org Pat Gunn

    @James: I think you misread Islam, and would mistake some factions for the whole thing in the same way that Westboro Baptist might be mistaken for being normative for all Christianity.

    Still, there is a point in being wary of efforts to make Fiqh part of our legal system. Multiculturalism can only go so far. Sharia as a private set of customs for Muslims is relatively benign, like Halakah for Judaists. Sharia as something with legal status/protection is not something we should want.

    Note though that for many of us seculars, we’re wary of Christianity too, and people misguided enough about history to think that “in god we trust” and “christian nationalism” were there from the start are just as much a foe.

  • Maria

    Shel, Islamists apploud you. They are need such liberals living in illusion and delusions to prevent. "Islam prevent" they hold those posters in London, Paris, etc.
    With your help they will be able to conquer all the world as it is ordered by Quran.
    They say "peace" but use terror. They intimidate innocent people but whining that it is "islamofobia" if those one trying to reveal truth.Look what's going on in the world and in our own country. Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are muslims. Not all Germans were Nazis in 1933 but almost all became Nazis by 1940. Islam is political ideology to conquer the world but disguized under religion. American Muslim Mayor Hasan with shout "allah akbar" killed their own patients and military colleagues. This country gave him everything and his gratitute was murder. If you think you will be exception, you are dangerously naive. Kind of you people who thought that Hitler was Ok than were burned in the stoves. History is if not teach us, it punish us of forgetting its lessons.

  • Maria

    Q 2:216 "War is ordained by Allah, and all Muslim must be willing to fight, whether they like it or not".
    80% of Quran is such of hatred. We all must stand for Israel as Israel fate is our fate and all Western civilization fate. Arabs of Paleastine were not admited by Muslims states (its21 states) as they used them as hostages to destroy Israel. Under "Palestinians" historically all the world meant Jews. Arabs of Palestine name "Palestinians" was concocted by KGB after Israel won war againt 6 Muslim countries in 1967. They continue to overwrite history: instead Judea and Samaria they named it "West bank". So on, so on. Muslim had difficulties to creat but very skillful in distorsion, deception, treaturey, etc.
    Wake up if you want to be alive.

    • http://dachte.org Pat Gunn

      @Maria: If you want to quote holy texts, the christian bible is full of similarly hateful verses. There are christians with disgusting beliefs who can back up their beliefs in their holy texts. There are christians who are pretty nice people who also back up their beliefs in the same holy texts. Same with Muslims. Any muslim or atheist or christian or judaist who’s willing to be civilised should have a seat at our table. There will always be some of each of those groups who are unwilling to be civilised.

      @Michael: It doesn’t matter what that guy says. He’s wrong. Quoting him won’t make him any more accurate.

      Liberals are not trying to support Sharia as the law of the land. Nor do we approve of cutting off of hands or other such barbarity. We worry about religious extremism (Christians *and* Muslims). Still, it’s best dealt with by pulling people towards moderation. Islam is no more “the enemy” than Christianity is. Both are myths, but believers in both *can* be fine people.

  • Michael Elmore

    As Daniel Greenfield/Sultan Kinish wrote resently "The Muslims have done a much better job of dividing us, than we have of dividing them and But the differences between the two groups are tactical, not moral or religious, moderates vs extremists muslim." Anyone who doesn't think Islam is the enemy is just another Dimmie with their head in the Sand..elmore

  • http://ada.org Vlad K.

    Wow can't believe how ignorant all of you American fat f*cks are.

    Russia will always be with Islam!

  • vlad k

    Wow can't believe how ignorant most of you Americans are.

    Russia will always be with Islam!

  • Michael Hanni Morcos

    Actually, the lecture speaks for itself. By completely avoiding to justify Sharia laws, and completely derailing to Islamaphobia propaganda speaks volumes. I have been advocating for Sharia- free- zones world wide. The proof I have is in a case presently unfolding here in Canada's capital Ottawa – the Shafia family case – where a mother, and four teenage females, were killed by drowning. A plea of not guilty was offered by all three accused of first degree murder, the son, father and second wife. Under sharia laws it was an honor killing, that not only justifies their actions, but glorifies it as an honorable deed from a devout Muslim. So under Sharia laws Sanctity of Life does not exist, and more importantly Women's rights to live or die is completely in the hands of only male adherers. My point is that we cannot allow Sharia laws to take precedence over Canadian laws and end the Islamaphobia propaganda. If proven guilty, their lies would also be justified under Sharia laws.Point made! Thank you.

  • Giuliani

    Whether one likes it or not Islam is fast becoming a no. 1 religion in the world. There must be reason(s) for this. You mean more than 1 billion people (including 6 million Muslim in America) are stupid to embrace Islam. You must be kidding. Don’t be emotional about Islam and it’s major teaching, shariah. Pl read the many articles written by western non Muslims who have converted to Islam. There are thousands and thousands of them ranging from intellectuals to common folk. One day you may be one of them. To understand Islam, read the Quran. Tq