James Bloodworth makes a convincing case against the word ‘Islamophobia’. Its potential to distort is perhaps reflected in this account of Asma Jahangir’s record* when serving as a UNHRC expert on religious freedom:
Ms. Jahangir had ignored detailed petitions sent over 18 months concerning state-sponsored, hate-filled Saudi and Egyptian schoolbooks. By contrast, she had criticized the Danish government for being insufficiently quick to condemn a newspaper’s one-time publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. (UN Watch mailing)
However if someone uses ‘Islamophobia’ where ‘anti-Muslim Bigotry’ would have worked just as well – i.e. they are not trying to close down debate or free speech – then I don’t have a problem with that. And in fact I thought this piece by Sheila Musaji, ‘Robert Spencer & Pamela Geller use 4th of July to spread Islamophobia’ was pretty good. Perhaps she spent too long agonising over some of Spencer’s examples of alleged dodgy quotes and views – after all, her case does not rest upon *all* Muslims being paragons. For me, it would be quite enough to say, as she said elsewhere of one particular document of uncertain authenticity:
I don’t know if this document is legitimate or a fake like the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”. If it is legitimate, then I am ashamed of those who wrote it, if they call themselves American Muslims. I pray that it will be investigated and shown to be a fake. I, like Tarek Masoud, would like to find out if there is some information there that some folks like me don’t have? It is a product either of the Muslim lunatic fringe, or of the Islamophobic lunatic fringe. Either way, it has done its damage.
She writes eloquently about how she resents being held responsible for problems associated with other Muslims, or Muslim countries, and asserts her own full support for secularism. (Here she quotes from one of her own earlier posts):
It is often stated by bigots that American Muslims are some sort of a fifth column in this country just waiting to implement Shariah law and destroy the Constitution. Actually most American Muslims are only too aware of the freedoms they have in America. I am sure that there may be some such deranged Muslims who would like to see the wall of separation [between Church and State] come down, and they should either go back where they came from if they are immigrants, or if they were born here, they should make hijra (emigrate) to a predominantly Muslim country.
She concludes with a long list of (mostly Christian) Americans who don’t seem to share Musaji’s enthusiasm for the separation between religion and state. Here’s a typical quote:
Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition who said “What Christians have got to do is to take back this country, one precinct at a time, one neighborhood at a time and one state at a time … I honestly believe that in my lifetime we will see a country once again governed by Christians … and Christian values.”
Finally here’s another firm statement, from a post she wrote about apostasy, in which she acknowledges that while bigotry (whether you call it Islamophobia or AMB) is real enough, there are also problems within Muslim communities which ordinary Muslims need to address:
If we are going to be able to deal with these very real issues facing Muslim communities, then we will need to deal with them within our communities. We need for ordinary Muslims to be much more aware and demanding of their scholars and leaders. We need dialogue within our communities, and we need to struggle for the soul of Islam.
* (Jahangir is one of the team who has just been appointed to investigate Israeli settlements by the UNHRC.)
Lucy Lips adds:
The document of ‘uncertain authenticity’ is “An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America”.
As Sheila Musaji does not link directly to it as far as I can see, you can read it here.
It is very good that Musaji opposes the document – but I am surprised that she doubts its authenticity. I am also a little surprised that Musaji doesn’t tell her readers who the author, Mohammed Akram, is. She could have found out by looking at Wikipedia.
The memorandum was written in 1991 by Mohamed Akram, a senior Hamas leader in the U.S., a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America
The Muslim Brotherhood, and its US affiliate organisations, have not denied its authenticity. I have seen, from time to time, some suggestion that this piece wasn’t a policy document that was implemented, but rather some blue sky thinking. The problem is, however, that the piece describes the creation of a series of front organisations posing as cultural, civil rights and religious institutions, which would work together to the end described above. The Muslim Brotherhood did then establish such institutions.
So, I wish that Musaji had looked at the document and the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood network, and considered the significance of the Holy Land Foundation trial – which resulted in substantial criminal convictions for the Muslim Brotherhood’s senior activists – and come to a conclusion as to whether the document was ‘authentic’ or not. She could then have gone on to express proper concern at the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in her community and country.
How does this tie into anti-Muslim bigotry?
Musaji is right when she says that she knows substantial numbers of Muslims who are opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s politics. She could have made the point that the Muslim Brotherhood is a dangerous and vicious organisation, but that it only ‘represents’ Muslims who share its politics. She could have gone on to explain that Muslims who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and anti-Muslim bigots have precisely the same view of the nature of Islam, and that by opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, she is opposing both “the Muslim lunatic fringe, or of the Islamophobic lunatic fringe”.
The problem, however, is that Muslim Brotherhood institutions dominate Muslim politics in the United States, and such a declaration would then oblige her to oppose these organisations, and to raise concerns about their activities. In doing so, she would not be bolstering the Muslim haters’ narrative, but undermining and opposing it, of course. But, as we’ve found, she would probably be attacked for saying so.
Nevertheless, this is a sensible first step.
Sarah adds: As so many commenters were opposed to the thrust of this post, it seems reasonable to represent something of that difference above the line. So here are some thoughts from Adrian Morgan:
It is, however, very disappointing that Sheila Muhaji does not in her website seem to mention in her website any of the people involved in the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC). Most importantly amongst these figures, she could be mentioning the Canadian, Tarek Fatah of both AILC and his group Canadian Muslim Progress, but a search for his name on her website produces nothing. Manda Zand Ervin, or Hasan Mehud, who are both Muslims who are in AILC, but who are opposed to Islamism, get no mention in her website.
This is strange as Musaji likes to wrap herself up in the US flag and claim to be proud to be American and Muslim. That is exactly what the AILC state:
As American Muslim leaders, we come together to defend the US Constitution, uphold religious pluralism, protect American security and cherish genuine diversity in the practice of our faith of Islam.
However, M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim who is also someone proud to have served in the US military, and is also a member of AILC, does feature. She writes about Jasser:
Jasser was opposed to the Park51/Cordoba House project ** (see video of Jasser & Reza Aslan on Cordoba House here. More on Cordoba House here) and is vehemently opposed to CAIR ** and MPAC and ISNA and CSID ** and every Muslim organization except his own, and calls them “Islamist”.
Actually, I have never heard him say anything positive about any existing American Muslim organization or any individual member of their leadership. All of his public statements absolutely ignore any positive contributions of the American Muslim community, and certainly ignore all of the statements against extremism and terrorism. You can find these here
So – she condemns Jasser because he does not respect the Muslim “leadership” of groups in America such as CAIR, MPAC and ISNA.
These are all Muslim Brotherhood front groups. What Musaji is stating here is that these Hamas-supporting groups are the “leadership” of American Muslims.
I may have been wrong when I suggested that she may possibly have been a paid-up card-carrying Ikhwanista, but Sheila Muhaji is certainly an apologist for the Islamists of the American Muslim Brotherhood.