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“Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” from the Center for American Progress is just the latest in an ever-lengthening string of markedly similar “exposés” of so-called “Islamphobes.” Each purports to show that the anti-Sharia movement in America is a sinister cabal of well-funded, dishonest hacks stirring up hate against innocent Muslims in order to profit from it. Each has been highly distorted and markedly unfair, twisting the facts and cooking the data in order not to enlighten but to manipulate, not to educate but to propagandize.
Just in recent months there have been two other reports, both almost identical in substance to “Fear, Inc.”: the far-Left Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Jihad Against Islam” and the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations’ “Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States.” Each of these is lavishly produced, printed on glossy paper and full of colorful illustrations. With the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the midst of a full-scale, years-long campaign at the United Nations to compel the West to criminalize any honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to recruit and motivate terrorists, it would be useful to know who is funding these slickly produced reports; but, true to form, the mainstream media instead glosses over the radical and genuinely sinister ties of the organizations that produced them, and repeats their agitprop as if it were fact.
But it isn’t. In what follows I must, for reasons of time, limit myself largely to responding to the report’s attacks on me; however, the “Fear, Inc.” attacks on my colleagues and others doing similar work are no more substantive or less manipulative and propagandistic.
The misinformation starts on the first page, when the “Fear, Inc.” authors call me “one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report.” The term “anti-Muslim” is immediate evidence of the manipulative, propagandistic nature of this report: my work, and the work of the other scholars and activists demonized in “Fear, Inc.,” has never been against Muslims in the aggregate or any people as such, but rather against an ideology that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people. In fact, years ago at Jihad Watch I had an exchange with an English convert to Islam. I said: “I would like nothing better than a flowering, a renaissance, in the Muslim world, including full equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies: freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, equal employment opportunities, etc.” Is all that “anti-Muslim”? My correspondent thought so. He responded: “So, you would like to see us ditch much of our religion and, thereby, become non-Muslims.”
In other words, he saw a call for equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, including freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, and equal employment opportunities, as a challenge to his religion. To the extent that they are, these facts have to be confronted by both Muslims and non-Muslims. But it is not “anti-Muslim” to wish freedom of conscience and equality of rights on the Islamic world — quite the contrary.
The report also contains a – by now obligatory – lengthy excursus on Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik: “While these bloggers and pundits were not responsible for Breivik’s deadly attacks, their writings on Islam and multiculturalism appear to have helped create a world view, held by this lone Norwegian gunman, that sees Islam as at war with the West and the West needing to be defended.” While granting that we are not responsible for Breivik’s acts, the report also takes pains to point out that “Robert Spencer and his blog were cited 162 times in the nearly 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Breivik, the confessed Norway terrorist who claimed responsibility for killing 76 people, mostly youths.” Not surprisingly, it doesn’t mention that I have never sanctioned or justified violence, or that Breivik was plotting violence in the 1990s, before I had published anything about Islam, or that he complained that I was not recommending violence, or that he recommended making common cause with jihadists, which I would never do – indicating that his “manifesto” is actually ideologically incoherent, and not a legitimate counter-jihad document at all. These facts are not mentioned in “Fear, Inc.,” because they would interfere with its propagandistic agenda.
As for the claim that Breivik committed his murders because of the worldview we had created that “sees Islam at war with the West,” “Fear, Inc.” is also silent about the many Muslims who have declared that they are indeed at war with the West, in the name of Islam. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said: “Have no doubt… Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world.” CAIR cofounder and longtime Board chairman Omar Ahmad said in 1998: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” (He now denies saying this, but the original reporter sticks by her story.) The prominent American Muslim leader Siraj Wahhaj said in 2002: “If only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.” The most influential Islamic cleric in the world today, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has said: “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor, after being expelled from it twice.”
True to form for these “Islamophobia” reports, “Fear, Inc.” ignores such statements and many others like them, attempting to create the impression that the only ones responsible for the idea that Islam is “at war with the West” are the “Islamophobes.”
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