I Am Not Your Muslim

muslimIf Islam were a skin color, there would be a sliding scale along which you could determine just how Muslim you are. On the extremely Muslim end, there would be classic identifiers — hijab or niqab for women, a beard and skullcap for men. On the light Muslim end, there would be those whose identity can only be determined because of a name or provenance, those who usually “pass” in public and are not immediately identifiable. Let’s call this the Identity Matrix.

In order to predict how likely it is that a Muslim will be discriminated against, another measurement needs to be overlaid over visibility — The Privilege Scale. Jobs, wealth, education and other markers of status interplay with the degree of perceived Muslimness that can confer or deny immunity. This is pretty much how identifiers are leavened with social status (or lack thereof) across minority groups in most parts of the world.

Certain attributes and accoutrements offer some Muslims a “pass.” Sara Yasin, a Palestinian American journalist, remarked on how comparatively easy her passage through life in the United States is due to her pale skin, hazel eyes and neutral first name. A pass almost always depends on the ease with which an individual can blend into the affluent dominant culture. It sounds dramatic, and it is.

The ways Muslims have been fingered, pathologized and persecuted mean that the Muslim identity is being calibrated and re-calibrated in order to settle upon one dominant narrative. During the presidential election, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims,” immediately casting suspicion upon any Muslim as a potential threat. He also suggested that Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parent who appeared alongside her husband to support Hillary Clinton, was “not allowed to speak,” because she was Muslim.

These broad strokes are not only the preserve of the political right. Liberals such as Bill Maher have been at it for years. On terrorism, Maher suggested that, “if Muslim men could get laid more, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

This drive to otherize and dehumanize Muslims is grotesque, and the speed and uncoordinated efficiency of it seems almost like a natural phenomenon. But it isn’t. It’s a confluence of unnatural, dynamic and calculated narrow interests that dictate who gets to be “mainstream.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR 

Ghavri: What is Islam, Anyway?

A self-proclaimed “angry brown man” rants about Islam.

by Anmol Ghavri | 4/27/17 12:45am

timthumbIslam is whatever a practicing Muslim says it is for them. Period.

If you are a religious layman and your journalism diet consists of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, then your only interaction with Muslims is when an anchor is narrating coverage of a terrorist attack in Paris or London. Panic, brown bodies and explosions are the only thoughts a majority of Americans associate with Islam. As far as they are concerned, there is no difference between a “radical moose-lamb” terrorist and any other Muslim. Islam is Islam; Christianity is Christianity. Done deal. No-go zones in British cities and the oppression of women! “They” are incompatible with “us.” “They” hate democracy and are jealous of how wealthy and powerful “we” are. And that is that.

Unfortunately, this is not a fringe belief. Powerful people in Western governments hold these views. The religious and cultural illiteracy around the world and especially in halls of power is shocking. Politicians like Rep. Steve King, R-IA, President Donald Trump and his chief strategist Stephen Bannon view the world in black and white. Good and evil. Christianity and Islam.

Religions are first and foremost social and cultural phenomena. They are not top-down monolithic entities but are inseparable from class, race and gender. In Muslim majority countries, socioeconomic status and the urban-rural divide are far more predictive of social and cultural views than simply “being” a Muslim. Indeed, there exists no singular form of Islam, just as there exists no singular form of Christianity. The issue of the veil? Cosmopolitan or upper-middle class female Muslims often do not wear a hijab, and if they do, many choose to do so under their own volition.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DARTMOUTH 

‘Our response to hate’: Muslim and Christians’ moving reaction after Britain First stormed bookshop accused of promoting jihad

uk shopDozens have spoken out in support of a bookshop invaded by members of far-right group Britain First, who accused the store of selling literature that promotes Islamic Jihad to children.

Footage published by Britain First showed leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen alongside ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson storming into the store.

They confront a volunteer working at the shop and accuse him of selling extremist literature, which he forcibly denies, Birmingham Mail reports.

The son of the owner of the store, who did not wish to be named, told the Mirror the ‘invasion’ by Britain First was due to an isolated incident where a book, Bringing Up Children in Islam – which was said to encourage parents to “keep alive in the children the spirit of jihad” – had been sent to the store as a sample and appeared for sale in error.

He said the book had been picked up and put on the shelves by accident,and was not meant to be put on sale. He insisted there were no other books like this in the store.

Christians and Muslims have spoken out in support of the store in Alum Rock, Birmingham, after seeing the footage posted online by Britain First when they confronted staff.

Britain First call themselves a Christian organisation – but their actions drew the ire of the community.

Posting on Twitter, councillor Mariam Khan wrote: “Amazing Easter Sunday spent visiting Islamic bookshops on Alum Rock Rd with Christian neighbours from local Church. Our response to hate.”

And social commentator Waheed Saleem said the West Midlands Police van was visible on the road after an “unwelcome visit” by Britain First.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIRROR (UK)

It’s Not Enough to Dismiss Islamophobia

lead_960A new book argues that conversations about Muslims in America and Europe are about more than rights and freedoms.

Controversies over Islam take somewhat different shapes in Europe and the United States. While France attempts to ban  burkinis, or full-body bathing suits worn by some Muslim women, U.S. state legislatures attempt to ban the use of sharia law in American courts.

And yet, argues Nadia Marzouki in her new book, Islam: An American Religion, anti-Islam arguments in the West have become “surprisingly standardized.” It’s “no longer possible to discuss Islam’s place in Western societies without systematically invoking a series of normative oppositions: good/bad, moderate/radical, faith/law, West/Muslim, modernity/tradition, and so on,” she writes. “For a majority of Americans and Europeans, Islam remains an opaque object that one is unable to think of in any way other than as a problem, threat, or retrograde legal code.”

 

It’s not enough to understand this simply as Islamophobia, argues Marzouki, who is a research fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. She believes Islam has become a cipher in Western societies for the tough questions of secular, liberal democracies: how much to champion liberty over equality, for example, and whether legal rights should entitle Muslims to fully express their faith in public. As much as Europe and the U.S. have different histories and legal traditions, she claims, anti-Muslim groups in both places share their discomfort with these challenges.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Inside the anti-Muslim organization that has ties to the White House

ctl-islam-trump-cair-act-muslim-20170217-001Roy White wants to inform as many Americans as possible about the terrorists he sees in their midst.

The lean, 62-year-old Air Force veteran strode into the Texas State Capitol in late January wearing a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit and an American flag tie, with the mission of warning all 181 lawmakers about a Muslim group sponsoring a gathering of Texas Muslims at the Capitol the following day. Although the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) works to promote Muslim civil rights across America, White wanted to convince lawmakers that it is actually working to infiltrate the U.S. government and destroy American society from within.

“They’re jihadists wearing suits,” White said of CAIR and other Muslim organizations. “That’s a tough thing for us to wrap our heads around because we don’t feel threatened.”

White is the San Antonio chapter president of ACT for America, an organization that brands itself as “the nation’s largest grass-roots national security advocacy organization” and attacks what it sees as the creeping threat of sharia, or Islamic law, in the form of Muslim organizations, mosques, refugees and sympathetic politicians.

The group has found allies among a coterie of anti-Muslim organizations, speakers and Christian fundamentalists, as well as with some state lawmakers. Bill Zedler, a Texas Republican state representative, said during a recent forum supported by ACT that he fears political correctness is masking the real problem: “Regardless of whether it’s al-Qaida, or CAIR, or the Islamic State, they just have different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 

Steve Bannon’s Islamophobic film script just one example of anti-Muslim views

The emergence this week of a script for an Islamophobic film written a decade ago by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has drawn new attention to Bannon’s past statements about Islam, and to his view that “the Judeo-Christian west” is engaged in a “global war” against “jihadist Islamic fascism”.

Here is a selection from the script published by the Post, and previous statements Bannon has made about Islam.

‘Loss of the will to win’

The road to the establishment of an Islamic Republic in the United States starts slowly and subtly with the loss of the will to win. The road to this unique hell on earth is paved with the best intentions from our major institutions. This political/accommodation/appeasement approach is not simply a function of any one individual’s actions but lies at the heart of our most important cultural and political institutions.

– from Destroying the Great Satan, a 2007 film script by Stephen Bannon.

FULL FRIGHTENING ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN 

How Trump changed Americans’ view of Islam – for the better

imrsPresident Trump is expected to announce a ban on Muslim immigrants into the United States. However, polls conducted in the last year show that, despite his electoral success, Trump’s views on Islam and Muslims do not have wide support among the American public.

Americans’ opposition to accepting refugees from Middle East conflicts have been highly exaggerated. As I noted last June, “even in the middle of a U.S. presidential campaign that has been breathtaking in its exaggerations and racism, with devastating terrorism providing fuel, 59 percent of Americans say they are ready to accept Middle East conflict refugees” assuming they are screened for security. As usual, Americans were deeply divided along partisan lines on this issue.

Four polls during the election year revealed extraordinary, progressive and unexpected shifts that cannot be explained by events during that year. Attitudes toward “Muslim people” became progressively more favorable from 53 percent in November 2015 to 70 percent in October 2016.

figure1

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST