Friday, September 14, 2012

American Terror

A Renewed Wave Of Islamophobia Sweeps The United States

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has been accompanied by an upswing in attacks on American mosques. Houses of worship across the United States have been vandalised or attacked in a string of incidents over the last two weeks. The attacks also come in the wake of a shooting at a Sikh temple by a man with links to white supremacist groups. 

Muslim activists blame right-wing political rhetoric for creating a climate of hate, but few politicians of any stripe seem willing to embrace the Muslim community or denounce their attackers. 

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to Suhail Khan (@Suhail_A_Khan), Chairman of the Conservative Inclusion Coalition and Naunihal Singh (@naunihalpublic), Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Members of The Stream community also join us in a Google+ hangout. 

Above, activists in San Francisco label an advertisement from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) as hate speech. The ad asks viewers to "support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad." The AFDI is an umbrella organization that backs campaigns like "Stop Islamization of America" and "Campaign Offensive: Stop the 9/11 Mosque!"
Many activists see the rhetoric of these movements as indicative of larger Islamophobic and xenophobic trend in the United States, even a call-to-action. In the past month, a Sikh gurdwara congregation in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was targeted on two separate occasions. In the past seventeen days, eight Muslim sites - including schools, grave sites, and places of worship - were also attacked. 

Below, Chuck Goudie, a reporter for the Chicago ABC News affiliate, tweets out pictures of the most recent assault on a grave site in Chicago. 

WARNING: the following image contains harsh language.

Several Muslim graves in #Chicago south suburb of Evergreen Park hit with anti-Islam hate graffiti:

  1. The August 16 grave defacement follows a pellet rifle shooting at a mosque in Morton Grove, Illinois, and a homemade bomb assault at an Islamic school in Lombard, Illinois. A Rhode Island mosque was vandalised, the Grand Mosque in Oklahoma city was hit by paintballs. Worshipers in Hayward, California, were struck with eggs and oranges; a woman hurled pig parts at worshipers in Ontario, California. The Islamic Society of Joplin, Missouri, also faced two attacks in little over one month. On August 6, the mosque was completely destroyed in a fire, suspected to be arson. The attack came after a confirmed arson on July 4 that is still under investigation.
The attacks on Muslims are often mentioned alongside the July 20 shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, was a white supremacist and former US military member. In the video below, young American Sikhs share their experience with racism and mistaken identity in response to the Oak Creek shooting.

  1. These incidents are not confined to the last few weeks. The Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 attacks since September 11, 2001 and attacks targeting Muslims rose an estimated 50 per cent from 2009 to 2010.
    In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, Yousef Munayyer labels these incedents as domestic terrorism:
  2. Make no mistake, this is terrorism. What else can we call this pattern of violence targeting and intimidating civilians, leaving them afraid of practicing their most basic right, their freedom to worship?
  3. Munayyer argues that the disproportionate focus on Muslims as perpetrators of terror attacks, coupled with a crack-down on these communities in counter-terrorism efforts, creates a double bind that makes the US less safe, not more:
  4. It is easy to curtail the civil liberties of a minority group but far more difficult to curtail the civil liberties of larger groups. That's why it is commonplace to see Muslim witch hunts advocated in the wake of an extremely rare domestic terrorist act. Yet, after far more common mass shootings, which seem very common these days, there is no political appetite to further regulate the Second Amendment.

  1. Twitter response to the Wisconsin #templeshooting echoed many of Minhaj's concerns:
  2. Rachelle_Fox
    Another day, another killing spree in the #US. When will the madness end? #templeshooting
  3. PWeiskel08
    I guess mass shootings of people who aren't white aren't important enough to interrupt the #olympics#templeshooting
  4. Many have extended this social critique to the response of US politicians, saying that their actions on Oak Creek were not adequate in comparison to the official US response in the wake of other tragedies.

    1. Recently, this difference has been underscored with a slew of anti-Islamic political rhetoric and legislation. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life mapped documented opposition to mosques and Islamic centers across the US, from 2009-2011. Of the 37 mosques that were challenged, 17 cases openly cited concerns over Islam, ties to terrorism, or 'funding sources' as their reasons for opposing the mosques.

    2. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
    3. Research has shown that domestic terror attacks are just as likely to come from right-wing attackers as they are from Muslim's:
      1. Still, signs such as this one in New York City, are funded and posted in the US, claiming that the fear is realistic. The sign below, paid for by the AFDI, reads, "19,250 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11/01. It's not Islamophobia, it's Islamorealism."

      2. SyedaTasnu
        #Islamophobic ads=even worse when they're not even clever. Spotted at #MetroNorth station.#Islamorealism? Really?

  1. Still, netizens are sceptical of the idea that an influx of immigrants is inherently threatening:
  2. robocop245
    @jensalan @AJStream To what extent is Islam just a constructed enemy? US has always needed enemies 2 legitimise. Islam is the new communism.
  3. Recently, Representative Michelle Bachmann, a former presidential candidate, called for an investigation into high-ranking Muslim members of government. Additionally, Congressman Joe Walsh claimed that Muslims in specific Chicago area neighbourhoods were "trying to kill Americans".

    Despite heavy criticism from their colleagues and the public, these politicians held their ground.

Via: "Al-Jazeera"

No comments: