Celebrating Islam across North America

From Mississippi to Ontario, adults and children alike are being fed the most grotesque of lies.

It's happening all over North America – including places you might think were too remote to even conceive of such activities. Take Missoula, Montana, where the local newspaper, the Missoula Current, reported last April on a group called Standing Alongside America's Muslims (SALAM), formed a year earlier “to push back against a rising tide of Islamophobia.” The Current report on SALAM, as it happened, appeared two weeks to the day after the deadly suicide bombing in the St. Petersburg, Russia, Metro, by an affiliate of Al-Qaeda. (You already forgot that one, didn't you?) The Current also brought the news that the Missoula City Council, in an effort to address supposed “waves of anti-Muslim sentiment,” had designated April 24-30 as “Celebrate Religious Freedom Week” to coincide with SALAM’s own “Celebrate Islam Week.” 

What is SALAM all about? A tour of its Facebook page indicates that it's especially focused on the fount of evil that is Donald Trump and on his satanic attempt to establish a “Muslim ban.” The page contains graphs and charts illustrating how few Muslims live in the U.S. and how few Americans die from jihad terror compared to other causes. (There are no charts showing the recent surge in both the population and deadliness of European Muslims.) One evening in September, SALAM sponsored a quiz about Islamic culture, containing such questions as: “What spice do Syrians like in their coffee? How do you say 'delicious' in Arabic? What stringed instrument do Iraqis play?” (Presumably there were no questions about the several different types of female genital mutilation, the Islamic penalty for apostasy, the punishments for homosexuality prescribed by various Islamic theological traditions, or the age of Muhammed's wife Aisha at the time of their marriage.) 

While delicately avoiding any mention of jihadist attacks, moreover, SALAM's Facebook page does a great job of compiling stories about, for example, women who claim to have been called names for wearing hijab. It has also reprinted such garbage as a Foreign Policy article whitewashing Jonathan Brown, the head of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, who has defended Muslim slavery, child rape, and execution of gays.  

As it turns out, promoters of Islam have also been busily at work in Jackson, Mississippi. In a recent issue of Affinity, a magazine for teenage girls, you can read about how on March 22, 2016, Jackson's city fathers proclaimed that every year henceforth April will be celebrated as Islamic Heritage Month. As in Missoula, this decision was motivated by a supposed climate of “backlash and Islamophobia” under the tyrannical heel of Donald Trump. Note, by the way, that both of these cities are located in solid-red states. 

Last month, north of the border, the Canadian province of Ontario celebrated “Islamic Heritage Month.” In Toronto, a city considerably larger and more left-wing than Missoula or Jackson, the school board issued a 170-page “resource guidebook for educators” explaining what the city's teachers should do to ensure their students' full involvement in the celebration. One introductory bullet point is that, even if no Muslim kids are enrolled in your school, you should take part, so that “all students” can “reflect, celebrate, and learn about IHM and contributions by Muslims to our society.” 

Included in the guidebook is a “primer” about Islam, Muhammed, the Koran, and so forth. It was a masterpiece of sugarcoating. On hijab, for example: “Women who choose to cover their heads are not exclusive to Islam; some Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, and Rastafarian women also wear a form of head covering as part of their religious or cultural practices....Female Muslim students may or may not wear the hijab, based on individual choice.” To its credit, the guidebook does note in passing that some girls wear hijab owing to “parental pressure,” but there's no mention of grown women who are also pressured to cover themselves, and no hint that the garment is a symbol of sexual submission. 

Similarly, the division of congregations in mosques into men and women is explained as “a way for men and women to feel comfortable in their own space and not feel self-conscious.” The guidebook dismisses the idea that it has anything to do with “gender superiority/inferiority” and asserts, with breathtaking dishonesty, on the centrality to Islam of “gender equality.” We're told that “Muslim women have had the right to vote since the beginning of Islam in the 7th century” but there's no reference whatsoever to the extraordinary power over women that Islam has granted to men ever since its founding. 

From bow to stern, the Toronto guidebook is a splendid piece of PR for Islam: “the concept of a university degree comes from Fez, Morocco”; Ibn al-Haytham “formulated the scientific method and has been referred to as 'the world's first true scientist'”; Jabir Ibn Hayyan was “the founder of modern- day chemistry.” Any kid taught out of this guidebook would surely be prepared to believe that it's Muslims, not Jews, who have won a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes – and would be shocked to learn that in the year 2017 there doesn't exist a single decent university in the entire Muslim world.  (And that this has everything to do with Islam itself.)

Much of the guidebook consists of a massive bibliography of books, films, and other materials about Islam that are directed at young people. The titles and descriptions suggest that they paint every bit as appealing a picture of Islam as this guidebook does. I was staggered by the sheer amount of such material that's out there. While the rest of us have been looking elsewhere, mischievous characters who work in children's publishing and related fields have apparently been doing a bang-up job of promoting a beautiful fantasy version of Islam to North American children and teenagers. 

One thing in the guidebook did occasion an official complaint. Its definition of “Islamophobia” originally read as follows: “Islamophobia refers to fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture.” B'nai Brith Canada objected, noting that enforcement of this definition “could lead to punishment for students or teachers who display 'dislike' towards the persecution of LGBTQ people in the Islamic Republic of Iran, harsh restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, and Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, all of which are examples of 'Islamic politics.'” Many Toronto students, noted B'nai Brith, had “come to Canada fleeing persecution from countries like Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia – and now the TDSB [Toronto District School Board] is telling them to stay silent about what they’ve suffered.” 

In response, the TDSB took out the word “politics.” The rest of the “Islamophobia” definition remained. And Islamic Heritage Month went on as scheduled, filling heaven knows how many impressionable children's heads with the purest, prettiest nonsense about the most treacherous force on the planet today.

 

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