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(This is Part Two of a Four Part Essay exploring the Norway Terror Attacks and our response to Islamophobia: Part One here: What Norway's Terror Teaches us about Islamophobia and Online Hate: as I said at the end of Part One)

The internet didn’t create extremism. It might have amplified it on some occasions. But there are other examples of new media - from the Murdoch scandal to the Arab Spring - where online activism has served more liberal ends. The net is basically a neutral space to share opinions. And when it comes to the recent phenomenon of Islamophobia, those opinions predate Twitter or Comment is Free.

I'm just back from Sarajevo where the scars of the siege are still visible fifteen years later: the sniper bullet-holes in the buildings, the  horrible dragon's claw mark of a mortar shell, not to mention the look in the eyes of men my age.  The cataclysmic Twentieth Century was effectively launched by a bullet fired in Sarajevo in 1914 - the assassination by a Serb Nationalist of Archduke Ferdinand - and it's hard not to hear the echo of that shot in the way the century ended: the crump of a shell in the Old Town marketplace, followed finally by the first ever NATO bombs dropped in anger, as planes took out the Bosnian Serb positions around the besieged city.

Just as modern Jihadism in the form of Al Qaeda came out of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, so too I believe Modern Islamophobia was born from the end of the Cold War (for its older incarnation check out Edward Said's Orientalism).

Out of the Cold War

The same year the Cold War ended was the same year that Ayatollah Khomeni issued his fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his Satanic Verses - 1989. For many liberal intellectuals, this was a sobering moment. Just as the Berlin Wall was coming down, another was erecting itself in people’s minds. Instead of Communism, perhaps religion - particularly fundamentalist religion - was emerging as the new enemy. Many thinkers turned their eyes from the dissidents fighting  totalitarian repression in the Warsaw pact, and to the autocratic Arab states in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, though hidden under the rock of Communism for decades, nationalist and xenophobic feelings emerged intact in much of Central and Eastern Europe. By now we all know about the tragedy of the former Yugoslavia, and the ultimate direction of the nationalist rhetoric of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Though he played on fears of the Croatian Catholic Ustashe, his initial line in the sand in Kosovo was against the 'Turks'. In his famous address on the 'Battlefield of the Blackbirds' Milosevic invoked the historic role of Serbs as the defenders of Europe against the Islamic horde. This toxic religious nationalism culminated in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and the final horror of Srebenica, when 8,000 men and boys were massacred and buried in mass graves merely because they were designated 'Muslim'.

We're less familiar however, with Islamophobia in the former republics of the USSR. Apart from countless terror attacks in Russia itself, there have been two wars in Chechyna, and other ethnically-based conflicts in other former Soviet Republics, including that of my grandfather's homeland - Armenia - which was engaged in brutal conflict with Azerbaijan over Ngorno Karabakh. Meanwhile, anyone from the Caucasus (whatever their religious denomination) still faces danger in Russia itself. When I was in Yerevan three years ago I met a sculptor - barely darker than I am - who had fled St Petersburg because a friend had been stabbed to death for being too Islamic looking.

The Racist Component

It's impossible - or at least very difficult - to remove the racial component from Islamophobia. Though no one would recognise my Bosniak or Kosovar friends as Muslim when they walk down the street, the truth is, for most of Europe, Muslims are recognisable by their colour as much as what they wear or what beards they sport.

So there's an underlying racist component to Islamophobia, and groups like the English Defence League (despite having a Sikh among their leadership) exploit this to the full. They say they're not racists.  What they object to is fundamentalist religion - and who can object to that? But as anyone who has shared a bus with EDL supporters will attest, this racialist disclaimer is a lie. They're the same old hooligans, Paki-bashers and Nazi bully boys I recall from the 70s and 80s. But intellectually, they draw some cover from surprising sources.

Clash of Civilisations

I remember Senior Tories, while debating why Britain shouldn't do anything in Bosnia, explaining how Islam would be the next major global struggle after defeating Communism. In this they were merely reiterating what Sam Huntingdon described in his Clash of Civilisations: a new conflict, a New World Order, pitting liberal values against against the intolerance of an unreformed Islam. Unfortunately, this kind of apologia was also echoed on the New Left who mourned the death of non-aligned Socialism, and saw the West 'manufacturing consensus' for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. They also doubted the camps in Omarska and wondered whether Srebrenica was really an act of genocide and not 'exaggerated'. Some of them formed a Committee in Defence of Milosevic. Islamisation was, to some, the secret plan of Western capitalism to destroy actually existing socialism.

Add to this already toxic mix the slow-burning Intifadas in Israel's occupied territories, Hamas suicide bombers, Likudite obstructionism after the assassination of Rabin, and a perfect storm was brewing....

Then 9/11 came along.

The Impact of 9/11

After the mind-shattering attacks on the World Trade Centre all nuance was lost. The enemy was blindingly clear: the death-loving, mass-murdering, medieval fundamentalism of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In hindsight this traumatic over-reaction was probably inevitable. Gone was the characterisation of Islam as a multifaceted religion of 1.6 billion adherents, with its own major schisms between Sunni and Shia, or Alawites, Ismailis or Sufis. Everyone - TV pundits, newspaper columnists, novelists, playwrights - became experts on the extreme doctrine of Salafist Wahabis. The backlash was set....

For different motives, some of them almost honourable, modern Islamophobia grew out of a strange confluence of four very different currents;

1. Old fashioned xenophobic racism

2. Atheist anti-clericalism

3. Socialist nostalgia

4. A Neo-con belief in reshaping the Middle East

When future historians ponder the fiasco of the Iraq War, the horrors of Abu Ghraib, or indeed the over reach of the initial policing operation in Afghanistan, I'm sure conclude they will conclude that for several years Osama Bin Laden achieved his objectives. After all, that's what the 9/11 attacks were meant to provoke: a massive over-reaction by the West which would lead to more polarisation, more Muslims being driven into Al Qaeda's arms when the realised the tolerance of western liberal democracy was fake, and we are all Covert Crusaders.

We almost played straight into his hands. But not quite. And that's why the battle against Islamophobia is as crucial to our own security as the battle against Salafist Jihadism.

Part Three of this essay 'Is Multiculturalism to Blame' published tomorrow

Originally posted to Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Muslims at Daily Kos, July 22nd, Street Prophets , Moose On The Loose, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Real events , Real revulsion. Not phobia. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I wonder if this has anything to do with so called "Islamophobia"

      This month, a group of men spotted the couple riding together in a car, yanked them into the road and began to interrogate the boy and girl. Why were they together? What right had they? An angry crowd of 300 surged around them, calling them adulterers and demanding that they be stoned to death or hanged.
      Ms. Mohammedi’s uncle
       visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family, and promised that they would kill her once she was released. Her father, an illiterate laborer who works in Iran, sorrowfully concurred. He cried during two visits to the jail, saying almost nothing to his daughter. Blood, he said, was perhaps the only way out.

      What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them,” said the father, Kher Mohammed.

      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

      by bobtmn on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:36:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No suttee in Hinduism, no homophobia in Christianity, no female circumcision in tribal societies, no Baruch Goldstein or Aum Shinkryo or Timothy McVeigh

        The selective myopia is pure Islamophobia

        "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

        by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 06:40:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forgive the atrocities? (0+ / 0-)

          So we are supposed to forgive the atrocities committed under the influence of Islam because others do som bad things too?

          All religions contain the capacity to inspire violence and bloodlust.    Some are better at it than others.

          See my signature.

          Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

          by bobtmn on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:40:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who said anything about 'forgiving atrocities'? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'd say, given it's history of colonisation, slavery, conquest and genocide, Christianity would beat Islam in terms of numbers, but somehow you failed to mention that.

            As for your sig line - I agree. I'm just more ecumenical than you with my dislike for evil things done in God's name.

            "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

            by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:45:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Historic comparison is irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

              It doesn't matter how many people did what to whom in the last 500 years.   I am fully aware that I would have been burned at the stake in europe if I had lived then and had the views I have today.

              Today, the christians won't do it to me.  You have to fight the battles in your own time, not from the past.  In our time, there is only one religious group that threatens and commits violence all over the world because their beliefs have been offended.

              You know who it is, and to condemn it is not "phobia".

              Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

              by bobtmn on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 06:03:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for these essays (10+ / 0-)

    they are very insightful.  

    A culture that exalts its own moral certitude and engages in uncritical self-worship at the expense of conscience commits moral and finally physical suicide--Chris Hedges

    by Tchrldy on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:14:01 AM PDT

  •  Everyone needs an enemy (9+ / 0-)

    So when the Berlin wall came down, there was a need to find a new one..

    And if you want to mobilise people, then the easiest way is to find a common enemy.

    So, with these circumstances, Bin Laden and Bush were made for each other.

    I sometimes wonder what the world would look like if Clinton had a third term, or Gore was given his rightful victory.

    "Lethality is the prime function of a firearm why pretend otherwise?" 2dimeshift!

    by senilebiker on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:40:09 AM PDT

    •  I suppose that depends on your concept (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sandbox, Marie

      of how much Iraq has affected nations outside of Iraq and the US.

      I don't think they have much, personally...I don't see the Arab awakening being related, and relations with Iran weren't peachy before.

      Seeing as Obama has kept up the fight in Afghanistan and no serious Dem candidate has said they would do things differently, hard to say if Clinton/Gore were in office during 9/11 and after, things would be different there today.

      "However, I don't think that critiquing one precludes praising the other" - The Troubador

      by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:05:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clinton's Iraq policy was (0+ / 0-)

      the same as GWB's.  Difference is that the generals would have balked had Clinton ordered them into that battle.

      •  I don't agree - Afghanistan sure (0+ / 0-)

        but  I don't see Clinton going into Iraq.

        And thast would have meant that sufficient resources were devoted to Afghanistan, and we would probably be pretty much out of there by now.

        Only an idiot opens up a war on two fronts - Ask Hitler.

        "Lethality is the prime function of a firearm why pretend otherwise?" 2dimeshift!

        by senilebiker on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 03:05:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for saying this. (6+ / 0-)

    At NN11, there was a panel on Islamophobia, and the only comment about its origins I remember was that the election of Obama provoked it.

    I didn't say anything, but if I had I would have blamed it on 9/11.

    Thanks for bringing up Milosevich. I'd forgotten all about Bosnia.

    For relevant sci-fi and fantasy, go to

    by Kimball Cross on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:56:26 AM PDT

  •  The World Trade Center is almost back. (13+ / 0-)


    This is what it looked like about two weeks ago.

    I hope - and this is maybe hope over experience - that when that gaping physical hole is finally filled, maybe we can go back to where we used to be; open, tolerant, not afraid of our own shadows or the scary other who might want to do us harm. It's been almost ten years, and that chapter needs to be closed.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 05:11:12 AM PDT

  •  thanks for the diaries (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, JDsg, a gilas girl, dizzydean, princss6

    to look for a catalyst consider the conversion in the Western mind of Chechen rebels from freedom fighters to terrorists as Russia rolled over the rebellious province.  Afghan camps run by al Qaeda provided some of the fighters but slowly the dialogue in the West turned from the nationalistic aspect of the revolt to the religious aspect and the West became entranced with the connections to al Qaeda and oblivious to the history of the region.

    Such examples of myopia are scattered throughout the pages of the 20th Century  

  •  Republished to Muslims at Daily Kos (8+ / 0-)

    Excellent series, Brit.  Thank you for providing such insight into this massive problem.

    Terror has no religion.

    by downsouth on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 06:36:40 AM PDT

  •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

    Actually, I think you have to go back to 732AD if you want to really know what it's all about.

  •  Brit you've been rescued (11+ / 0-)

    If this place wasn't obsessed with one issue, I'd warrant that this would have gone to the rec list but at least it will see the light of day in the CS box!

    Thanks and keep writing, you have a great perspective on this!

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:37:44 AM PDT

  •  Excellent (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the analysis.  I missed the first of these, but I will make certain not to miss the rest.

    When shit happens, you get fertilized.

    by ramara on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:39:31 AM PDT

  •  The only thing I'd add / edit on your list (10+ / 0-)

    of 'currents' is the soft-power form of colonialism (as distinct from the hard-power form represented by neoconservatism) embodied in neoliberal economic institutions.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:01:44 AM PDT

  •  Hi Brit..I have a lot to add here (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this post--as usual, you do a wonderful job clearly articulating the issues.

    The Islamophobia is one of those issues, like anti-Semitism, that historians have been split on--was it endemic in Europe from the beginnings or should we take each case individually within the cultural/political/historical situation within which it occurs?  It's a difficult question, because for every Song of Roland or forced conversion, there's a Frederick II who was tolerant.  

    With regards to Bosnia and Sarajevo, I would strongly suggest reading Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon--the section on Bosnia is very good--she portrays the complexities of the situation there (who were the worse oppressors, the Turks or the Austrians?) very well.

    Regarding the Clash of Civilizations, what is often missed in the discussions of it is that bin Laden himself promoted the idea--he WANTED any conflict involving the Middle East to be framed as a clash between Islam and the West:

    What is your opinion about what is being said concerning your analogies and the “Clash of Civilizations”?  Your constant use and repetition of the word “Crusade” and “Crusader” shows that you uphold this saying, “Clash of Civilizations”.

    OBL:  I say that there is no doubt about this.  This [Clash of Civilizations] is a very clear matter, proven in the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet, and any true believer who claims to be faithful shouldn’t doubt these truths, no matter what anybody says about them.  What goes for us is whatever is found in the Book of God and the hadith of the Prophet.  But the Jews and America have come up with a fairytale that they transmit to the Muslims, and they’ve unfortunately been followed by the local rulers [of the Muslims] and a lot of people who are close to them, by using “world peace” as an excuse.  That is a fairytale that has no substance whatsoever!


    “The peace that they foist on Muslims is in order to ready and prepare them to be slaughtered, and still the killing goes on.  So, if we try to defend ourselves, they call us “terrorists”, and still the slaughter goes on….
    Interview on Al-Jazeera, Oct. 21, 2001

    Finally, looking at Islamophobia in America, I would suggest looking at Akbar Ahmed's Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.  One of the key points he makes is that there are various strands of thought in the US in terms of identity, and that the one which focuses on American exceptionalism is the most likely (which he frames around attitudes regarding the Mayflower story) to create conflict.

    In the end, it comes down to understanding and empathy--things which Americans are traditionally lacking.  We, as a nation, are woefully ignorant of the rest of the world, yet in a globalized realm of complicated relationships, the necessity to understand others is greater than it ever has been.  As Robert McNamara and James Blight wrote in Wilson's Ghost, that after 9-11, the West must seek to increase its understanding of the history, culture, religion, motives and attitudes of those who have declared themselves to be its adversaries.  By doing this we can have empathy, that is, understanding of them, so that we can eliminate threats to peace.  

    McNamara argues that we had empathy with the Soviets and were thus able to avoid nuclear conflict during the Cuban Missile Crisis, yet lacked this when becoming engaged in the Vietnam War.  

    Now, we must do a better job of this with the Middle East and Islam, or else we will be doomed to blunder into continued conflicts.

    Sorry for the length of this, but it's one of those issues that I'm passionate about...

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little." FDR

    by dizzydean on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:13:25 AM PDT

    •  No a great comment (5+ / 0-)

      First off: I was kind of adverting to the salafist desire to polarise between Kaffirs and the Ummah in the last two paras, but your citation just makes that more concrete. Thanks.

      The third part of the essay - about Multiculturalism - will look at exactly those issues of intergration and identity you talk about. However, because of Breivik and his relation to the English Defence League, it might be more European focused than you'd like.

      Perhaps you should write an American addendum to this subject!

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:51:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I can scrape together the time, I just might (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brit, JDsg, capelza, Wee Mama
        Perhaps you should write an American addendum to this subject!

        I'll have to track down some books I have laying about...speaking of which, I have Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West sitting on my "to read' shelves...looks rather anti-immigrant, but the dynamic in Europe is different from the US--as Caldwell says in his intro (just skimming), can you still have Europe with different peoples?

        Not to steal from your forthcoming essay, but the answer ought to be "yes", IMHO....

        "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little." FDR

        by dizzydean on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:20:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think there are two roots you are missing here (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, JDsg, capelza, Wee Mama, Marie

    particularly regarding American Islamophobia:

    1. The Iran Hostage Crisis - a moment of great national humiliation, and

    2. America's intense relationship with Israel, and the effect that Palestinian suicide bombers in the '80s and '90s targeting civilians had on the American public.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:38:42 AM PDT

    •  Yes, the US side.... (6+ / 0-) a bit under-represented here as these essays are mainly about the rise of Anti Islamic European parties, and of course Breivik's atrocity on July 20th.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:47:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My sense is that Muslim immigrants to the US (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg, Brit, dibsa, Wee Mama

        are treated a lot better than Muslim immigrants to Christian Europe. But my sense is only anecdotal. Any thoughts?

        •  Absolutely (7+ / 0-)

          Oddly enough a poll just out confirms that US Muslims feel more positive about their prospects there than any other major American faithgroup

          Also, by bizarre coincidence, my uncle taught Mohammed Atta architecture in Hamburg. If you look at the initial 9/11 attackers, the ring leaders were Muslims disaffected by their experience of Europe

          Meanwhile, as my first essay explains, the rise of anti Islamic Parties in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland etc. is very much a European phenomenon

          "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

          by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:29:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I can't say better or worse... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDsg, capelza, Wee Mama

          not living in Europe BUT I know from what I see from family members in a really tolerant city for Muslims.  It is ugly and it is shame and it shouldn't happen in America.

          I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

          by princss6 on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:31:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  European Muslims = US Hispanics (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brit, JDsg

          That's probably a reasonable first approximation.

          In Britain, the "mill and mosque towns" of Lancashire and Yorkshire are a particular problem.  Muslims were encouraged to immigrate in order to provide cheap labor for the textile mills, but those mills ended up closing down anyway, as no worker in Britain (even a Pakistani or Bengali immigrant) could compete on price with a Chinese in China or an Indian in India.

  •  The Serb-Muslim conflict (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, GCarty, Wee Mama, Marie, ricky57

    in the 1990s had a lot to do with what happened in World War II.

    The Nazis brutalized the people of Serbia more than any non-Jewish people. The Nazis set up a puppet fascist state in Croatia, which immediately proceded to brutalize Serbs to the point that even the SS was shocked. And a lot of the Yugoslav Muslims sided with the Croats.

    Incredibly, the same man who was responsible for the rise of Arab terror towards Jews -- in Palestine and Iraq --  also rallied Muslims to terrorize Serbs, recruiting a Waffen SS unit:

    None of this justifies Serbia's actions during the 1990s.

  •  I live in a county with a lot of Muslim immigrants (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, dizzydean, slksfca, dibsa, Wee Mama

    I live in the Bronx.

    There is a large group from Eastern Europe, mostly Albania. (There are also numerous Albanian Christians and at least one Albanian Jewish family; as in the Old Country the various religions seem to get along.) You can't tell them apart from Italians except for the language. (A lot of Italian-Americans in the Bronx still speak Italian.)

    There is also a large group from Bangladesh. You can't tell them apart from other immigrants from the subcontinent.

    There is a third large group from West Africa. They are the only ones I've ever seen whose women wear the full veil. There have been news reports that they are having difficulty assimilating because of their very conservative social norms -- modest dress, no premarital sex, etc. Given the huge teen pregnancy rate in the Bronx I would suggest that we might want to consider that they might have something to contribute to us.

    Here is a link to a statement by Mohammed Solaiman Ali the founder of one of the mosques in the Bronx, on the death of Osama bin Laden:

    We are very proud of America. We were also afraid you know? We did not want another attack here or in another country. As a Muslim, I feel very proud. Obama is a good president…and today we will pray for our country. Bin Laden is an enemy of Islam we are against what he did. Today we are happy, this is great news. There is nothing in the Quran (or the Holy Book) that says to kill. Islam does not tolerate terrorists. I am very happy to hear this news.

    I can also show you a narrow residential street in the Bronx where a mosque is directly across the street from an orthodox synagogue. My friends at the synagogue report no issues.

    •  Thanks for that... (5+ / 0-)

      ....some real insight from someone who sees reality, rather than the lurid spectres painted in the press.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:06:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      charliehall2, slksfca, Wee Mama
      There have been news reports that they are having difficulty assimilating because of their very conservative social norms -- modest dress, no premarital sex, etc. Given the huge teen pregnancy rate in the Bronx I would suggest that we might want to consider that they might have something to contribute to us.

      ...especially to the second sentence.  The thing that strikes me about this perceived "lack of assimilation" is that often the nature of assimilation conflicts with Islamic beliefs/practices.  For example, an internet friend asked the other day about the problem of British culture and the alcohol-centric nature of British non-Muslims' social lives.  The same can be said for the two social norms you mentioned above, modest dress and no premarital sex.  This "lack of assimilation" really seems, from a Muslim perspective, to be a case of sour grapes on the part of non-Muslims, who don't like that Muslims won't practice the same vices.  If doing so means to assimilate, better then that Muslims should avoid following the same path.

      Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

      by JDsg on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:30:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That "internet friend" was me (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, Brit, JDsg

        I think that Muslim rejection of alcohol would be a greater obstacle to integration than chastity or modesty in dress.  After all, the rejection of the latter two virtues in the West is a 20th century phenomenon, while Anglo cultures have a history of heavy drinking going at least as far back as the Norse invasions.

        Incidentally I read that in some parts of Europe, the wearing of headscarves by women only seriously declined post-WWII, as women wanted to bare their heads to show that they weren't shaved.  (Patriots in many European countries had shaved the heads of women who had slept with Nazi soldiers...)

  •  Thanks for this series (7+ / 0-)

    and thanks to Diary Rescue for putting it in the Community Spotlight or I would have missed it.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:11:38 AM PDT

  •  Right wing Israeli rabbi opposes Jewish terrorism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, JDsg, Wee Mama, Noisy Democrat

    There has been a lot of publicity about the "Price Tag" campaign in which some Jewish vigilantes have been carrying out terrorist attacks against Arab targets in the West Bank, including some mosques. A few liberal rabbis have made a point of condemning this, but I want to bring to your attention one very prominent right wing settler rabbi who condemns this in no uncertain terms. he is Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who heads a yeshiva in Jerusalem and lives in the WB. He is famous for responding to brief questions via SMS text messaging. Here are three examples that he has put on his web site,  translated into English:

    "Death to Arabs"
    Q: Why is it forbidden to say "Death to Arabs"?
    A: Because it is not true. Only murderers and those who aid them are deserving of death.
    Q: What is the source?
    A: Do not murder.

    Price Tag
    Q: Should individuals take revenge against the terrorists by attacking the Arabs?
    A: No. We should not attack Arab B. for an offense committed by Arab A. And even Arab A. should only be dealt with by Tzahal, who has permission from the Nation to wage war.

    (Note: Tzahal is the Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Defense Forces. Rabbi Aviner is opposing vigilantism against even known terrorists.)

    Disparaging Arabs
    Q: I have seen young religious men singing "Death to Arabs." In my opinion this is a desecration of Hashem's Name. I therefore request that you object to this.
    A: I have written about this many times, but seems from your comment that perhaps I should cease from doing so. Despite tens of articles and many objections on the radio, my message has not reached you. This is a sign that I am exerting effort in vain.

    And a longer essay with more details:

    Most commenters here would vehemently disagree with Rabbi Aviner's politics. He opposes a two state solution and seems to prefer Israeli annexation of the entire West Bank. But there is a difference between wanting Israel to include the Palestinians of the West Bank as Israelis and supporting terrorism against Arabs or Islamophobia. The latter is beyond the pale of Judaism -- so says the rabbi.

  •  Agreed... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, poco, Tchrldy, Wee Mama
    We almost played straight into his hands. But not quite. And that's why the battle against Islamophobia is as crucial to our own security as the battle against Salafist Jihadism.

    Skeptical as to western society has the ability to take a nuanced view.  I'm not sure I've ever seen any nuance as it relates to the "Other" while much nuance is employed as it relates to the in-group.  Sigh.

    If I'm understanding you correctly,  you are positing that socialistic thought is anti-religion and thus the religiousity of Muslims in socialist states made them a target.  Is that what you were saying?

    I can't identify with that because in my lifetime, the boogeyman (among many) has moved from one Islamic Country to another.  

    I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

    by princss6 on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:26:05 AM PDT

    •  My last essay will be about this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, JDsg

      But when it comes to nationalist and religious bigotry in former Communist states (I know Poland, Lithuania and Bosnia quite well, and have visited Romania, Hungary etc.) I think the evidence post 1989 is quite clear.

      Those feelings went underground. Communism did little to solve them, mainly because of censorship and generalised repression. When the lid was removed, as in Bosnia or Ngorno Karabakh) the sentiments returned with full violent force.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:34:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep them coming! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Brit

    These have been very informative, thank you for these well polished words.

    "Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance" -Will Durant

    by Blue Dream on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 10:32:25 AM PDT

  •  I thought that the Cold War ended in 1991 (0+ / 0-)

    with the collapse of the Soviet Union...

  •  Oil oil oil oil!!!! Common! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Unfortunately the writer is missing the main reason we are talking about Islamophobia at all, and not, say, racism towards the Japanese.

        Oil revenues in the Arab world have been used for propagation of ideals that are not originally main stream Muslim. Those ideas are bad for Muslims and bad for the world.

        Bin Laden is a rich spoiled brat, son of corrupt money, as was clearly seen from his life style up to his death. He would have been as dangerous in a Japan that found oil and revived Kamikaze traditions.  

       If not for the huge amounts of available money, those most extreme branches of Islam wouldn't thrive and we would look upon Islam on equal footing with Hinduism - like we did before the 1960s!!!

    Assume, for a moment, that Christian cult leader Jim Jones would have found trillions of dollars worth of oil in the Jonestown, Guyana compound, and that with that money instead of committing suicide his followers would start promoting their crazy cult. Some would be even worse than their leader and promote their ideas worldwide resulting in many deaths world wide, outside the Christian world. We would be talking about Christianophobia instead.

    •  Good points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      However most the populous Islamic Nations are not Arab: only 40 percent of Muslms live in the Maghreb or Mashriq

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 02:04:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but most Americans can't tell the difference (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brit, zenox, Marie

        Even more so: 17 of the 19  9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates, home to less than 30 Million out of the 300 Million Arabs.

        ... And even within Saudi society it is usually a fraction of the rich spoiled brats that don't have to work for a living that form the hard core of Wahabi zealots, and that's how they have time to engage in terrorism.


  •  Short version: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    -Munich Olympics
    -Leon Klinghoffer
    -USS Cole
    -Black Hawk Down
    -Daniel Pearl's televised beheading
    -Dragging dead US soldiers through the streets of Iraq by the heels.
    -The ability to see even more on Al Jazeera on a daily basis.

    Before the Internet, and international TV, many people never even knowingly saw a Muslim, because our Muslim neighbors look and act a lot like everybody else.  The only ones they get to see now are the ones that cable news sensationalize for ratings.  

    Fear of the unknown.  That's all it is.  

    Jesus didn't need the input of focus groups to make up his mind to do the right thing.

    by SpamNunn on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 01:36:55 PM PDT

  •  I liked your reference to fundamentalism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, poco, Marie, JDsg

    I live in GA, a Wiccan surrounded by rabid fundamentalist Dominionist Christians. They scare the bejeebus out of me because they're the ones who have been guilty of hate crimes against Wiccans--mostly vandalism and death threats to business owners--and they're the onesbehind murder of abortion providers and bombs at clinics.  But we don't hear about them.  Which pretty much hgints at the racial element as behind Islamaphpobia. OUR  violent fudnies aren't terrorists, just THEIR violent fundies.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 02:46:18 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary series. Quick formatting Q: (0+ / 0-)

    (if u don't mind)

    How do you make the nice orange-colored section headings? They make the diary so much more readable!


    •  You have to put in a header reference (0+ / 0-)

      I'll do it with both with () brackets aswell as <>  brackets because I don't know if that HTML is enabled in comments

      (hr2)This would be the Heading(/h2)(br)(hr)

      This would be the Heading

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:49:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali -- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, JDsg

    experienced racism and Islamophobia in the US way back i the mid 1960s.  Once the "scary" African-American Muslim "threat" was killed off and neutralized, Islamophobia was transferred wholesale to Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, etc. and was made synonymous with terrorist.  Single women over a certain age were told that they had a better chance of being attacked by a terrorist than getting married (one of the great statistical lies).  Muslims were suspected in the OKC bombing.  Decades of fear stoked by TV, movies, and politicians and yet, until 9/11, I can't remember a single Muslim terrorist attack in this country.  

    •  Ah, yes, the Wally Fard cult!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Wally Fard and Elijia Poole were indeed scary. They were more racist than the KKK, what with their Black supremicist bullshit.

      Fard and Poole were con men, and they did lots of damage, which Malcolm Little uncovered and that's what got him killed.

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