Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Mentality Of Demonising Muslims Is Thriving



More than 10 years ago, the 9/11 terrorist attacks left a gaping hole in New York - and across the US as a whole.

This open wound continues to divide communities to this day.

In this two-part documentary, Al Jazeera follows the stories of some of those caught up in the anti-terrorist crackdown that followed 9/11 as they speak out about the injustices they have endured and their fears of a rising Islamophobia in the US.

I was astounded then by a 2010 ABC News/ Washington Post poll that showed that 46 per cent of Americans said they held unfavourable attitudes towards Islam - compared with 24 per cent in January 2002 - and that more than half of the American population believes there are more violent extremists within Islam than in any other religion.

Alia Malek’s book, Patriotic Acts : Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustices , showed how thousands of individuals in the US have been needlessly swept up in the 'war on terror' and subjected to human and civil rights abuses, from rendition and torture to workplace discrimination, FBI surveillance and harassment. The personal stories in this book made me realise that Islamophobia is a wide phenomenon permeating American society. And this is what I attempt to show in my film.

A report by the Center for American Progress called Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America shows how a small group of self-proclaimed experts, backed by a host of donors, is spreading fear and hostility toward Muslims in the US.

These so-called experts market Islamophobia in books, reports, websites, blogs and carefully crafted anti-Islam propaganda. They talk to the media and advise Congress. The group has links with the extreme right-wing of Europe (Stop Islamisation of Europe) and has created a sister organisation in the US (Stop Islamization of America).
Norwegian murderer Anders Behring Breivik cited these "experts" in his "Manifesto" more than 200 times.

Making this film has brought me into contact with Americans who have been discriminated against because of their religion, but it has also brought me into contact with Americans who are fighting for justice and who want their country to live up to the ideals of their forefathers in which people of all religions, all colours and all ethnicities can live together in a melting pot where each will live with dignity and where human rights are respected.

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