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Bankrupt in Ideas, US Republican Contenders Demonize Islam for Political Gain

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 4, 2011

Welcome to the Shari'ah Conspiracy Theory Industry

How the American right demonizes Islam for political gain.  

At February’s Conservative Political Action Conference, a student from the group Youth for Western Civilization at Liberty University asked members of a panel titled “The Shari'ah Challenge to the West”: “Are we going to see a rise of Islamic Europe, and America just sits there on its own... are we actually going to win?” Another audience member asked, “what recourse does America have as a country... to deal with that problem with a completely won Islamist population? What recourse do we have at home and abroad?”

That these questions were treated as legitimate lines of inquiry at a conference that serves as a dog and pony show for Republican presidential candidates demonstrates the success of a cottage industry of anti-Muslim fearmongers (politicians, religious groups, ministers, self-styled national security experts, former government officials, retired military officers, pundits, and writers) who have cultivated a wide-ranging conspiracy theory that totalitarian Islamic radicals are bent on infiltrating America, displacing the Constitution, and subverting Western-style democracy in the U.S. and around the globe. 

Also see:  

The Fear-Mongers: GOP Presidential Contenders Stoke Up Islamophobia in Bid for Tea Party Votes

Islamophobia has exploded onto the political scene as anti-Muslim pundits and activists gain traction in the conservative mainstream.  

Once relegated to the right-wing fringe, Islamophobia has exploded onto the political scene as anti-Muslim pundits and activists gain traction in the conservative mainstream. Lawmakers and activists are now targeting anything affiliated with Muslims -- be it a charity, a teacher, or a mosque. GOP politicians like former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich are fear-mongering over perceived dangers within the American Muslim community to pander to the conservative extremes. But this weekend at the Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain introduced an unprecedented level of bigotry into the GOP platform by declaring he would never appoint a Muslim to his administration.  

Exposure: A Muslim Woman's Unlawful Humiliation by Law Enforcement  

Imagine the uproar if women were forced to remove their shirts and bras for booking photos in police stations or jails. The feelings of vulnerability, degradation and trauma such a practice would generate would quickly put an end to it. For a Muslim woman, wearing a hijab (headscarf) is not only a symbol of her faith, but a way for her to control the parts of her body people see. Being forced to remove the hijab is humiliating, no different from being compelled to strip in front of others. Yet that's exactly what happened to Nashville, Tennessee, mother and educator Leyla Isaaq* several weeks ago, at the hands of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. After being cited for a minor traffic-related charge Leyla reported to the jail for booking, where she was told she must remove her hijab to be photographed. She tried for hours to explain to officers that, according to her religious beliefs, she must remain covered at all times in public and especially in the presence of men. The sheriff's office told her that if she did not remove it, she would be subject to arrest, despite the fact that her hijab in no way obscured her face and she was able to wear itin the photograph on her driver's license. To add insult to injury, the booking photo was then posted in a database accessible not only to law enforcement, but to the general public via Tennessee's Open Records law. 

Questioned at the Border: Aun Hasan Ali  

Over the past several years, at ports, land border crossings, and international airports across the country, U.S. citizens and lawful residents who are Muslim or who are perceived to be Muslim have been targeted by CBP officers for questioning about deeply personal beliefs, associations and religious practices protected by the First Amendment.  

Brit Hume Stunned Muslims Could be Outraged by Something as 'Trivial and Minor' as Koran Burnings  

Fox News Sunday pundit Brit Hume just can't understand how Afghan Muslims could be so upset by something as "trivial and minor" as Pastor Terry Jones' nasty little stunt of burning Korans, despite being asked by the State Department months ago not to, out of fear of inflaming anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. In Hume's mind, because Terry Jones is the head of such an insignificant following (Mara Liasson's estimation of two dozen followers may be generous), it's not that big a deal that he desecrated the holy book for 1 billion Muslims worldwide. Right, and Fred Phelps and his church comprised of 18 family members shouldn't bother the families of fallen servicemen when they demonstrate at military funerals. There's nothing that can justify the irrational lost of life of those NATO workers. But likewise, this kind of violence was predictable and avoidable. I doubt very much that Brit and Co. would be as sanguine if some imam burned a stack of Bibles and a crucifix as a statement of the evils of Christianity. In fact, conservatives have been less than tolerant of what they view as condemnations of Christianity, from Jesse Helms and Alfonse D'Amato demanding Serrano's Piss Christ be removed from exhibition, to Boehner and Cantor demanding the National Portrait Gallery remove Wojnarowicz’ “A Fire In My Belly,” to Maine Gov. Robert LePage not wanting to be reminded of the labor movement in a mural in the state building. Over and over again, they demand that their intolerance be respected above all else. But when the shoe is on the other foot...  

Radical Pastor Terry Jones Says He’s Considering ‘A Trial On The Life Of Mohammed’  

Violent protests in Afghanistan have now spread as far south as Kandahar. However, Jones feels no sense of responsibility. “We do not feel responsible,” he said on Friday. “We feel more that the Muslims and radical Islam uses that as an excuse.” Now, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Jones says he might also put the prophet Mohammad on trial:  Terry Jones, the radical pastor who oversaw the burning of a Koran in his Florida church last month after a mock court hearing, may put the Islamic prophet Mohammed on trial in his next ‘day of judgement’, he told The Sunday Telegraph.  

Right-wing Islamophobes: Petraeus' comments about dangers of Koran-burning a "recipe for surrender"  

We've previously pointed out that a nationwide climate of Islamophobia has followed the right-wing media's ugly, inflammatory, anti-Islam response to the planned Park51 Islamic cultural center. In addition to Jones' proposal, this anti-Muslim wave has included protests across the country in opposition to local mosques and Islamic community centers, vandalism of existing mosques, and rallies against Park51 that have echoed the right-wing media's disturbing rhetoric. Now Gen. Petraeus is making the completely obvious point that viciously anti-Islam protests undermine our anti-terrorism efforts and could lead to a violent backlash against our troops. How have the stokers of those fires responded? By attacking Petraeus, of course.   

Guantanamo is an evolutionary experiment

US detention centre can remain open as long as the "war on terror" continues, with no end in sight.  

Guantanamo is the most visible piece of a bigger legal mess that the Obama administration inherited from its predecessor. Many military law experts regard the entire post-9/11 legal edifice as flimsy. In 2001, Bush administration officials reinterpreted the laws of war in order to assert that people's status as captured constitutes the basis for the president's right to declare them "unlawful enemy combatants" and detain them, despite that many who ended up in Guantanamo were arrested far from any battlefield and were not combatants by any conventional understanding of the law. Obama, acknowledging this particular problem, made a semantic modification by changing the term to "unprivileged enemy belligerent". But this had no practical effect of mending this legal fabrication. On the contrary, the EO for indefinite detention indicates that the problem has been reinforced. The government also invented new war crimes in order to create a new right to charge and prosecute people in military commissions. Any alleged criminal activity committed by a person with the status of being in US custody at Guantanamo was redefined as a war crime.  





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