I was the first Muslim ever elected to US Congress — and what I see happening in the UK scares me

(Note:  this article was published prior to the El Paso and Dayton massacres.  The observations and proscriptions it contains are even more pertinent now.)

by Keith Ellison         

trump-farageI’ve seen personally what hate looks like. Back in the 1990s, as a young criminal defense attorney, I represented young men in two different cases who were eventually acquitted after being charged for defending themselves against white supremacists.

Ever since then, I’ve closely followed how the far right’s language and images have leached into society; how it tries to justify its existence while concealing its violence; and how it’s become a globally connected movement.

Recently, we’ve seen white supremacist violence escalate dramatically around the world, from the Pittsburgh and San Diego synagogue shootings to the murder at the anti-racist Charlottesville rally in the US; from the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand to last month’s surgical assassination of liberal German politician Walter Lübcke. 

Not only did these killers share an ideology, but they drew inspiration from and celebrated each other. Despite this, under Donald Trump’s leadership, the FBI and Department of Justice have deprioritised investigating far-right violence.

These seemingly disconnected events are part and parcel of an emerging, global far-right movement whose core ideology is anathema to democracy. It uses nationalism as its cover, but make no mistake: its basic value is white supremacy. 

 

The Media Is Missing the Real Story of Trump’s Racism

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Hampton

In August 2017, three men from rural Illinois—members of one of our country’s numerous heavily armed and rather poorly regulated “militias”—drove to Bloomington, Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis, to plant an IED in the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center. Following their arrest, two of the men admitted their guilt. They had set out from Illinois, they said, determined to scare Muslims into leaving the United States.

“Why,” he asked, “don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came?”

As the fact-checkers noted in their analyses of Trump’s newest “New Low,” only Omar was born in another country. For once, the president took the Pinocchios to heart: He homed in on Omar in a diatribe at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, a few days later, running through a litany of generically Islamophobic claims until the enthused crowd began chanting, for 13 uninterrupted seconds, “send her back.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEW REPUBLIC 

Washington State Muslims Fight Islamophobia with Personal Stories

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July 30, 2019

TACOMA, Wash. — Muslims in Washington state are building bridges with their neighbors in a new series launching today in Tacoma. Muslim organizations, alongside the Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County, hold the first “Sharing Our Stories – Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” event at Skyline Presbyterian Church.

Head of the American Muslim Empowerment Network at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound Aneelah Afzali said the goal is to find common ground with people through personal stories. She’s seen this kind of relationship building work as an antidote to Islamophobia in the past. Last year, Afzali spoke with two women at a Longview event who never had met a Muslim.

“They actually cried to me. They admitted that they had hatred in their heart, that they had fear in their heart and that that two hours really removed that and they gave me a hug,” Afzali said. “I mean, they brought me to tears. It was a profound and powerful moment and it just reminds me of the power that personal stories and those personal relationships have.”

Afzali said the goal is to bring this series to more rural and conservative parts of the state. A Seattle-based public relations firm created videos of three Muslim individuals for the event. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion and then a chance for people to speak with folks of different faiths directly.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Afzali said she finds this type of event necessary as political divisiveness and Islamophobia ramp up around the country. Along with an increase in attacks, an investigation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found anti-Muslim organizations are making big money. The report “Hijacked by Hate” said mainstream philanthropic institutions funneled at least $1.5 billion to a network of 39 anti-Muslim groups between 2014 and 2016.

Afzali said that amount of money, combined with a misunderstanding of the religion, is a recipe for disaster.

“So when this is happening and people don’t have the personal connections with people who they know, it allows for fear and hatred and even violence to grow,” she said. “And we’re seeing the consequences of that all around us.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL

These copycat bills on sharia law and terrorism have no effect. Why do states keep passing them?

b0c3b8d6-75d6-4328-8369-b1e46146032c-AP_17032732466766 A far-right think tank pushed model bills on sharia law and terrorism in dozens of states. Civil rights groups say the goal was to stoke fear.
Updated 2:20 p.m. CDT July 21, 2019

A lawmaker in Idaho introduces legislation to prevent traditional Islamic law from infiltrating U.S. courts.

In Florida, a legislator proposes striking at the foundations of terrorism with a bill bolstering victims’ ability to sue its supporters.

The lawmakers’ efforts are seemingly unrelated, their statehouses almost 2,000 miles apart.

But both get their ideas, and the actual text of their bills, from the same representative of the same right-wing think tank.

And when they introduce the bills, the same activist group dispatches supporters to press for passage.

Eric Redman of Idaho and Mike Hill of Florida are among dozens of legislators who have sponsored copycat bills written and pushed by a network of far-right think tanks and activists.

The legislation was developed by the Center for Security Policy, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, who pushes conspiracy theories alleging radical Muslims have infiltrated the government. Once the copycat bills are introduced, local chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based ACT for America, which describes itself as the “NRA of national security,” encourage their supporters to show up at legislative hearings and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and phone lines in support of the bills. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has claimed that up to a quarter of all Muslims support the destruction of Western civilization.

Facebook’s anti-Islam algorithm [Getty]

479Right-wing evangelical Christians have created an array of Islamophobic Facebook pages

A newly published Snopes investigation provides a deeper understanding of how small groups of right-wing extremists are manipulating Facebook to portray anti-Muslim views as representative of a much broader swath of the general public.

The authors of the investigation reveal how a small group of right-wing evangelical Christians have created an array of Islamophobic Facebook pages in conjunction with establishing Political Action Committees (PACs) to build “a coordinated, pro-Trump network that spreads hate and conspiracy theories” about Islam and Muslims.

For instance, the Facebook pages titled, “Blacks for Trump” and “Jews for America,” among others, are financially tied to Christian evangelical activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg, who is neither black nor Jewish, but founder and president of The America Conservancy, a group that claims to do “justice” to the “American story”, and “to explore those roots and fruit of thriving culture possible in relation to a life-giving God who brings dying things back to life.”

Well, that’s what “the Kullberg group” claims to be all about, but in reality their motives are far more sinister. These include the manipulation of Facebook to promote US President Donald Trump by stirring up further fear and hatred of Muslims, at a time when the United States is dealing with a domestic white nationalist terrorism crisis, one that produced more than 500 hate crimes against Muslims in the first five months of 2019.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL ARABY (UK) 

Islamophobia: from crusaders, to colonialists, to cartoonists

libro-de-las-cruzadasAnti-Muslim discourse has plagued the European horizon, but never has it taken on so many dimensions.

Islamophobia remains a hot topic across the West and minority communities are feeling the pinch of the prejudice in their daily lives more than ever before.

To these minorities, their marginalisation is the result of misconceptions about Muslims and Islam.

Is Islamophobia the cause or the result of terrorism? There is no clear answer to that question. But if one thing is for sure, it is that xenophobia has become widespread and has increasingly more complex ramifications on the lives of Muslims living in the West.

This has implications for Western human rights standards, as well. Islamophobia can be defined as the unjustified fear of all things Muslim based on preconceived notions that define it as a religion of violence.

While many think this form of racism bears an inextricable correlation with modern-day terrorism, many Western thinkers say anti-Islam sentiment goes back more than a century, way before the media started creating and perpetuating stereotypes, especially after the September 11 attacks.

The advent of the colonial mindset

The term “Islamophobia” was first coined during the French colonisation of several Muslim countries at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the year 1910 when French thinker Alain Quellien published a book entitled “Muslim politics in French west Africa”.

In it, the writer says Islamophobia is based on preconceived prejudice that is specific to the Christian world.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TRTWORLD.COM

Anti-Muslim prejudice puts secular societies in a bind

http___com.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-eu.s3.amazonawsThe Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were a stark reminder that we live in a world defined increasingly by ethnic and religious hatred. The terrorists who slaughtered at least 250 innocent people in churches and luxury hotels were deliberately targeting Christians. Whether or not the local jihadi group explicitly wished to replace the caliphate lost by Isis, there is no doubt that this was an attack on Judeo-Christian values. Secular governments are often irritated and bewildered by the resurfacing of old prejudices. But they must grapple with them. According to the charity Open Doors, 245m Christians worldwide face persecution. In India, the ultranationalist Hindu message of Narendra Modi’s government suggests that both Muslims and Christians are, at best, second-class citizens. In the UK, nine MPs resigned from the Labour party this year partly over concerns at the growing tide of anti-Semitism in its ranks. The Conservative party ran a London mayoral campaign in 2016 with unpleasant overtones against the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim.

The first time a moderate, educated Muslim woman told me about the hatred she felt from fellow bus passengers, I was shocked. Since then, I’ve heard many similar stories. Ugly prejudice is on the rise. The UK is also struggling with growing sectarianism, illustrated by religiously motivated murders such as that of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, by a Sunni Muslim taxi driver. Hand-wringing will not solve this. But I am troubled by the recent drive to persuade the British government to introduce a legally binding definition of “Islamophobia”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES