The effects of the tragedy that struck New York and Washington five years ago has now spread into almost every home, especially those of Muslims in America and all over the world. The reprehensible act of terror committed by a few has been turned into a propaganda campaign against Muslims and Islam. Muslims have been put on the defensive all over the world and new terms such as radical Islam, Islamo-fascism, and violent Islam, are in vogue.
Needless to say, the Muslim community has become a scapegoat for the failures of the FBI and CIA to monitor violent groups around the world and to prevent their nefarious acts. Every time an act of violence is committed, or a conspiracy is discovered, Muslims are demanded to prove their patriotism, their loyalty and their commitment to civility. This despite the fact that not one American Muslim was ever implicated in 9/11 terrorism, and despite the fact that law enforcement agencies have failed to find any link of any kind between the alleged 9/11 hijackers and the Muslim American community.
There are several questions that we must ask to understand why some constantly accuse Islam of being a religion of violence. Three groups are visibly distinct in their polemics against Islam and Muslims. They control the airwaves, they spread hatred and mistrust against Islam and Muslims, and they also reap the benefit of the ongoing propaganda against Islam.
Right-wing Christians top the list. They are no longer an insignificant minority. They have the support of the Bush administration and many in the Pentagon, White House, and Congress; other branches of government share their perspectives on Islam and Muslims. During the last five years, leaders and individuals associated with these groups have appeared on more 20,000 talk shows, have written some 15,000 articles, have delivered sermons in more than 200,000 churches reaching an audience of some 50 million people, and have organized several research studies and seminars on the subject of Islam and terrorism.
Their perspective on Islam emerges from their own basic (and very exclusive) religious conviction that only born-again Christians or that only those who accept Jesus as their only savior will be saved from rotting in hell. Some believe that Muslims constitute the forces of the antichrist (even though some such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are on record saying that the antichrist is a Jew).
They consider America a new promised land and believe that through the power of America, they can impose their ideals and ideas on the world. During the last 100 years, they saw the growth of Islam among African, Asian, Caucasian and Latin origin Americans. They view Islam as a challenge to their growth and ideology. Vibrant Islam they see as a threat to their designs in America, so they feel they must confront Islam. So they are in the forefront of the campaign to malign Islam and Muslims. They have called Islam a religion of terror and other slanders too terrible to repeat. Since 9/11, they are the ones who have used all possible channels to spread venomous hatred against Islam and Muslims.
The second group are political Zionists, extremists who see Muslims as a threat to their designs in Israel. Their voices speak from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), the Jewish Federation and other similar outfits. They have adopted a three-prong approach to discredit Muslims and Islam.
On the one hand, they rely on support from sympathetic media, academicians, and think tanks; on the other hand, they have tried to ally with the right-wing Christian to add more fuel to the fire against Islam. Their third approach is to prepare and identify a few Muslims here and there who speak their language and champion their cause.
During the last 5 years, these groups have invited in their gatherings several such Muslims to define Islam and attack Muslims. Needless to say that many of these Muslims rely on the ineffectual input of political Zionists for making an argument against Islam and Muslims.
Seventy percent of the articles opposing Islam that appeared in major dailies in the country come from extreme political Zionists. On the television network they outnumber others 100 to 2. They believe the existence of the state of Israel will ultimately lead to the coming of their Messiah who will enable Jews to establish a world government based on Talmudic laws. They find Muslims (especially those in America) a hurdle in their way.
They donâ€™t want to share American democracy with anyone who is opposed to their world view. They want to stifle every single voice of opposition to Israel. They have coined terms like radical Islam, Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism, and now Islamic fascism.
The third group comprises greedy businesses and their zealous supporters in politics. They have found an enormous business opportunity in â€œhomeland security.â€ They include security agencies, public relations groups, and defense contractors.
They have earned business worth billions in the past five years. They employ scientists, academicians, politicians and journalists to speak their language and mind. They call themselves experts and warn people of the dangers of Islamo-fascism and radical Islam or similar groups. The more they spread fear, the more they earn through business.
Of course there are two specific groups of Muslims who are playing in the hands of the three groups unconsciously. First, those who believe that Islam promotes violence to achieve its objective. Second, those â€œdo nothing but say everythingâ€ peopleâ€”ignorant and unaware of true religious dimensions, they try to pick up verbal fights with anyone who appears to be appreciating anything Western. For them, democracy and human rights are facadesâ€”totally incompatible with Islam. Even though their number is not large, they make enough noise to attract the attention of the above three groups who use their statements to justify their politics and strategy to counter Islam.
Muslims are, in response, very defensive. Muslim groups in general have tried to communicate with the three groups to win some favors. Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes still dominate the psychology of many Muslim groups and organizations. Some American Muslim groups even have gone further, trying to develop stronger relations with FBI without realizing that in a democracy, it is the people that matter and not her bureaucracies. Not many Muslim groups in America are serious in developing any grassroots campaign to make Muslims an effective part of American pluralism. Muslims might weather the three antagonistic groups, but it would be hard to deal with the own apathy and indifference to their plight.