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July 15, 2015

The Islamophobia Industry

Scott Stockdale

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Unlike the hatred that at various times peaked against minorities such as Jews, black people or Catholics, those promulgating Islamophobia are better organized and funded; and they have the internet to influence a much wider audience much more quickly than ever before, according to Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry.

On page 13 he defines Islamophobia:

“Whether classified as social anxiety of psychological trauma, brought on by a certain set of experience, Islamophobia is, in its most simple terms, fear of Islam and Muslims. It is that fear that then leads to hatred, hostility and discrimination- characteristics that the Runnymede Trust used to describe Islamophobia in a 1997 report.”

While many trace the rise in Islamophobia to 9/11, Mr. Lean said Pew Research Polls from 2001 show that 59 per cent of Americans had a favourable opinion of Muslims just two months after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Subsequently, a 2002 annual report released by the FBI showed that hate crimes against Muslims had increased by 1600 per cent; 28 incidents were reported in 2000 and 481 were reported two years later.

However, Islamophobia in America would continue to increase.  Mr. Lean said that “by 2005 nearly six in ten Americans thought Islam was a religion prone to violence; half of respondents held Muslims in low regard. In five years the numbers had completely flipped - the same percentage of Americans who once viewed Islam in a positive light now held the opposite view.”

Citing a number of more recent polls, Mr. Lean asked: “Why is it that 10 years after September 11, 2011, fear, mistrust and hatred of Muslims were at there highest levels ever?”

Moreover, he indicated that there doesn't appear to be any evidence-based reason for this level of hatred toward Muslims.

“A study conducted by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in February 2011 found that since 9/11 eleven Muslim Americans had successfully executed terrorist attacks in the United States. In the span of more than nine years they had killed 33 people. By comparison, the country had witnessed approximately 150,000 murders in the same amount of time.”

Mr. Lean said the decade-long spasm of Islamophobia that spread through the American public is the product of a tight-knit and interconnected confederation of right-wing fear merchants. They have laboured since the days the planes hit the Twin Towers to convince their compatriots that Muslims are gaining a dangerous influence in the west.

“Bigoted bloggers, racist politicians and fundamentalist religious leaders, Fox News pundits and religious Zionists, theirs is an industry of hate: James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the 'The intensity of Islamophobia has not abated and remains a vein that's very near the surface, ready to be tapped at any moment.' ”

Meanwhile, in the case of American blogger Robert Spencer, for example, the writing of anti-Islamic diatribe on internet posts has become quite lucrative.

Mr. Spencer pens daily blog posts for Jihad Watch, an arm of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and writes regularly for FrontPage Magazine, an online political journal, also operated by Mr. Horowitz. Together they form what Mr. Horowitz calls “a small but evidently effective family.”

Mr. Lean said that behind individuals like David Horowitz and Robert Spencer are far more nebulous and ideological figures who see the promotion of anti-Muslim sentiment as a necessary method for gaining the upper hand in a cosmic war playing out thousands of miles away in the West Bank.

“Hardline supporters of Israeli quest to extend its reach into Palestinian territories are often major backers of the pseudo-intellectual pugilism that the Islamophobia industry deploys. For them, emphasizing what they believe as the threat of Islam and Muslims creates an atmosphere of less resistance for their policies against the Palestinians. Their money – and lots of it – has subsidized massive propaganda campaigns against Islam and bankrolled the work of anti-Muslim naysayers.”

The message these well-funded messengers for the Islamophobia industry are feeding the American public is so effective that “despite efforts by President George W. Bush, President Obama and various members of Congress, and American Muslim organizations to distinguish between violent acts of individual Muslims and the quintessential nature of their Muslim faith, such endeavours have often been overpowered by a counter narrative that exploits realistic fears and represents Islam as a violent threat, not only to American values, but the future of America itself,” Mr. Lean said.

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