An investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has revealed that a small networked group of misinformation experts are guiding the rising wave of Islamophobia in the US through effective use of advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing.
Due to the efforts of this network, Islam is now the most negatively viewed religion in America.
According to a poll conducted jointly by ABC News/Washington Post in 2010, only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Islam which is the lowest favorability rating since 2001.
A 2010 Time magazine poll showed that 28 percent of Americans do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the US Supreme Court and nearly one third of the country thinks followers of Islam should be barred from running for president.
On July 22, a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian man named Anders Breivik planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway's Utoya Island.
During his trial, Breivik told the court that violence was “necessary” to save Europe from Marxism and “Muslimization.”
Breivik presented the court with a 1,500-page manifesto, in which he advocated “brutal and breathtaking operations which will result in casualties” to fight the alleged “ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.”
Breivik's manifesto contains numerous footnotes and citations to the aforementioned group of misinformation experts, quoting them as experts on Islam's “war against the West.”
This is a small example of the group's influence in shaping the national and international political debate. Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States and other countries. Leading Figures
Five major figures, who lead five key think tanks, are orchestrating the majority of misinformation about Islam and Muslims in America today. This small network produces talking points and messages relied upon and repeated by every segment of this interconnected network of money, grassroots leaders, media talking heads, and elected officials.
· Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
· David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
· Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
· Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
· Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism
This group of radical ideologues has fought to define Sharia as a “totalitarian ideology” and “legal-political-military doctrine” committed to destroying Western civilization. Frank Gaffney
is one of the lead engineers of the “anti-Sharia” movement sweeping the nation. His think tank released the 2010 report “Shariah: The Threat to America,”
which reframed Sharia, or Islamic religious law followed by any practicing Muslim, as a “totalitarian ideology” and “legal-political-military doctrine.”
Gaffney also founded the Center for Security Policy
in 1988, which, among other anti-Islam activities, launched a campaign against mosques to introduce them as “Trojan horses” used by Muslims to promote “sedition” in the US.
The controversy in 2010 surrounding the Park51 community center in lower Manhattan reveals how these experts perpetuate the notion that mosques are no longer houses of worship but “Trojan horses” harboring and disseminating radical Islamic theology.
On June 30, 2010, Gaffney wrote, “The Ground Zero mosque is designed to be a permanent, in-our-face beachhead for Shariah, a platform for inspiring the triumphalist ambitions of the faithful.
The CSP then created and funded stop911mosque.com; the official website of the Coalition to Honor Ground Zero and a who's who of radical right-wing leaders, organizations, and notable anti-Muslim advocates
These allies working through stop911mosque.com were responsible for manufacturing the 2010 hysteria around the construction of the Park51 community center.
Gaffney is also promoting a conspiracy theory that Muslim American civil liberties organizations are proxies for the Muslim Brotherhood and pave the way for radical Islam.
According to Gaffney “it is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.” David Yerushalmi
founded of the Society of Americans for National Existence which first proposed legislation in 2007 to make adherence to Sharia “a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.
Yerushalmi is the general counsel for the Center for Security Policy and the co-author of CSP's “Shariah: The Threat to America” report.
He also serves as legal counsel for the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America
, led by Robert Spencer, and Pamela Geller who writes an influential blog named Atlas Shrugs
Yerushalmi also serves as general counsel for Stop the Madrassa: A Community Coalition
, a New York City-based anti-Muslim right-wing grassroots organization that in 2007 attacked a New York City secular public school as a religious madrassa and Islamist front simply for teaching Arabic and the Arab culture. Stop Islamization of America
was recently listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Yerushalmi's most useful contribution to the Islamophobia network was writing the model “anti-Sharia” legislation introduced in more than a dozen states, which introduced Islamic religious law as a totalitarian threat infiltrating America.
Yerushalmi's obsession with Sharia law dates back to 2007 when his organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence, created the “Mapping Shari'a in America: Knowing the Enemy” campaign to determine what type of Sharia was practiced in every single mosque and advocated by Muslim American religious institutions.
In the same year, Yerushalmi began developing the template for the current anti-Sharia legislation movement American Laws for American Courts at the behest of the American Public Policy Alliance.
The American Public Policy Alliance is a right-wing group that claims “one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties today” comes from “foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines,” including “Islamic Shari'ah law.”
In 2011, Yerushalmi turned his attention to raising the threat of Sharia in American mosques to strengthen the legislative efforts of the Islamophobia network at the state level.
In June he released “Shari'a and Violence in American Mosques,” which speciously claims that more than 80 percent of US mosques feature texts that promote or support violence. Daniel Pipes
founded the Middle East Forum in 1990 which publishes the Middle East Quarterly and sponsors Campus Watch, Islamist Watch, the Legal Project, and the Washington Project.
Anders Breivik cited Pipes and the Middle East Forum 18 times in his manifesto.
In 2002, Pipes launched Campus Watch
to monitor professors and academics that deviate from Pipes' political ideologies.
In 2006, he established Islamist Watch
, which “combats the ideas and institutions of lawful Islamism in the United States and throughout the West.
His Islamophobia took a further turn when in 2008 he recommended increased racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs to cope with this impending exaggerated threat.
Pipes also writes on his site, www.danielpipes.org
, where he echoes the Islamophobia network's alarmist rhetoric about the creeping Sharia threat posed by radical Islam.
Pipes is also willing to use his alarmist rhetoric when it serves the purpose of promoting Islamophobia. In 2008, for example, Pipes admitted to misleading the public by using the word “madrassa” referring to a New York City public school to “get attention.”
Because the “Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition” wanted to shut down a secular New York City public school that taught Arabic and Arab culture. He told The New York Times that using the word “madrassa,” which could mean a secular school or religious Islamic school in Arabic, was “a bit of stretch.”
Pipes was critical of the school based upon his odd and bigoted belief that “Arabic instruction is inevitably laden with Pan-Arabist and Islamist language.”
Pipes posted an article on his website contending that “Arabized students show decidedly greater support for the Islamist movement and greater mistrust of the West” to justify his unsavory actions. Robert Spencer
, a prolific blogger, author, and commentator, is the co-founder of Stop Islamization of America and director of Jihad Watch.
Jihad Watch is a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Jihad Watch's primary purpose is to “track the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture.”
Robert Spencer and his blog were cited 162 times in the nearly 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Breivik.
Spencer has written 10 books, including the New York Times bestseller The Truth About Muhammad
. Daniel Pipes praised Stealth Jihad as “a pioneering survey of the 'stealth jihad' whose ambition and subtlety threaten the continuity of Western civilization.
His next book, Did Muhammad Exist?
, is scheduled to be published by ISI Books in spring 2012. Steven Emerson
, founded and runs the Investigative Project on Terrorism
which is dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamist infiltration in America gleaned through investigative journalism.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism
claims to be “one of the world's largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.”
Emerson frames Islam as an inherently violent and antagonistic religion. “The level of vitriol against Jews and Christianity within contemporary Islam, unfortunately, is something that we are not totally cognizant of, or that we don't want to accept,” says Emerson. Emerson was twice cited in Anders Breivik's manifesto. The Validators
The right-wing media and anti-Muslim politicians often turn to a select group of individuals who claim inside knowledge about the realities of radical Islam to support the extreme views of Islamophobia misinformation experts such as Gaffney, Yerushalmi, Spencer, Pipes, and Emerson.
Most of these individuals are neither experts nor Muslim, but rather of Middle Eastern descent. Nonetheless, they help validate and authenticate manufactured myths about Muslims and Islam, contributing to the small echo chamber of men and women committed to promoting Islamophobia in the United States. Some of the prominent validators are: Zuhdi Jasser
has emerged as the Muslim validator for Islamophobia propaganda.
Jasser, a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
in Phoenix, has been an adviser on Islamic affairs to the US Embassy in the Netherlands.
He, however, not only lacks any policy or academic expertise but also promotes conspiratorial claims that America is infiltrated by radical Muslims.
“America is at war with theocratic Muslim despots who seek the imposition of sharia and don't believe in the equality of all before the law, blind to faith. They detest the association of religious freedom with liberty,” he says.
Jasser also dangerously and incorrectly labels mainstream Muslim American organizations as subversive, disloyal proponents of a radical-Islam takeover. He claims their “patriotism involves taking the American flag and adding a little crescent-and, of course, turning America into an Islamic state.”
Jasser also appears frequently in fear-mongering documentaries portraying Islam and Muslims as potential threats. He appears in Newt Gingrich's 2010 documentary “America At Risk: The War With No Name,” warning of the impending threat of radical Islam and enforcement of Sharia in America.
Along with Frank Gaffney and Daniel Pipes, Jasser sits on the advisory board for the anti-Muslim organization Clarion Fund, which releases inflammatory documentaries warning of radical Islam. Walid Shoebat
boasts of himself as an expert on Muslim terrorism and is a self-described “former Islamic terrorist,” even though there is hardly any credible evidence to support his sensational tale of “Palestinian 'terrorist' turned Zionist,” as the The Jerusalem Post
Shoebat was cited more than 15 times in Norway terrorist Anders Breivik's manifesto.
He is also one of the many prominent “experts” from the Islamophobia industry featured in the Clarion Fund's anti-Muslim documentary film “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.”
According to “Top Secret America,” a two-year investigation by The Washington Post
exposing America's intelligence apparatus post-9/11, Shoebat is still being paid for his “expertise,” despite being labeled as one of the “self-described experts.
Although the FBI and others in the intelligence community consider his extremist views as inaccurate and harmful, and whose training of law enforcement officers and published views about Islam are considered “inaccurate and counterproductive” by government terrorism experts. Walid Phares
A former militiaman and foreign affairs spokesman for the Christian Lebanese Front, which was responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Muslims during the September 1982 Lebanese Civil War.
Walid Phares is currently a senior fellow and the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.
He also acts as an “expert” lecturer on “Islamist Jihadism” for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. Nonie Darwish
An Egyptian raised in the Gaza Strip who immigrated to the United States in 1976 and in 2009 started the group Former Muslims United
Darwish is also affiliated with the group Arabs for Israel, which describes itself as “an organization of Arabs and Muslims who respect and support the State of Israel and welcome a peaceful and diverse Middle East.
Darwish's famously predicted that Islam “will destroy itself because it's not a true religion.” She validates this view through her own books, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror
, and Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law
On April 8, 2011, she appeared alongside Frank Gaffney to testify on the sub-issue of the “culture of Jihad” at the New York Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs hearing titled “Reviewing our Preparedness: An Examination of New York's Public Protection Ten Years after September 11,” led by Sen. Greg Ball.
In her testimony, Darwish said “the education of Arab children is to make killing of certain groups of people not only good, it's holy.
Nonie Darwish and Walid Phares are both members of the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, which “posits radical Islam as a new global ideological menace on the order of the old communist threat from the Soviet Union.” Funding
These organizations and individuals are sustained by funding from a group of key foundations, which have a deep understanding of how to influence US politics by promoting highly alarming threats to its national security.
These conservative and philanthropic foundations and wealthy donors have poured USD 42.6 million into the Islamophobia network in the US between 2001 and 2009.
· Donors Capital Fund
· Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
· Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
· Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
· Russell Berrie Foundation
· Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund
· Fairbrook Foundation
Richard Mellon Scaife foundations comprises of the Sarah Scaife, the Carthage, and the Allegheny.
Between 2001 and 2009, Richard Mellon Scaife's foundations contributed $7,875,000 to Islamophobic groups. Among the recipients were the Center for Security Policy ($2,900,000), the Counterterrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation ($1,575,000), and the David Horowitz Freedom Center ($3,400,000). Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
provided $5,370,000 in funding to the Islamophobia network from 2001 to 2009. These funds went to the Middle East Forum ($305,000), the Center for Security Policy ($815,000), and the David Horowitz Freedom Center ($4,250,000). Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker Foundation
, Newton and Rochelle Becker Family Foundation
, and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust
contributed $1,136,000 to Islamophobic organizations between 2001 and 2009. Russell Berrie Foundation
which funds a large number of mainstream Jewish and Israeli charities, provided anti-Islam groups with $3,109,016 between 2001 and 2009.
The contribution of Anchorage Charitable Fund
and William Rosenwald Family Fund
to islamophobic groups between 2001 to 2008 amounts to $2,818,229.
The William Rosenwald Family Fund also contributed to the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which is headed by Zuhdi Jasser.
The Fairbrook Foundation
donated $1,498,450 to Islamophobic organizations, including ACT! For America, receiving $125,000; the Center for Security Policy ($66,700); the David Horowitz Freedom Center ($618,500); the Investigative Project on Terrorism, ($25,000); Jihad Watch ($253,250); and the Middle East Forum ($410,000). The Grassroots Organizations And The Religious Right
If not for the grassroots organizations and validators, however, the efforts of the misinformation experts and their think tanks and all that funding would not have been so successful.
These “muscles” of Islamophobic network promote anti-Muslim hate on the society level.
These dedicated grassroots organizers have built lists and established local citizens groups they later rely on to turn out at rallies, make phone calls, testify on behalf of legislation, and donate money.
These grassroots organizations include religious-right groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum, and anti-Muslim organizations such as Stop Islamization of America, which increasingly lead massive public information campaigns with myths and misinformation about Islam and Muslims.
State-based, local, and Tea Party organizations, including the Tennessee Freedom Coalition, the North Orange County (California) Conservative Coalition, the Patriot Action Network, and the First Coast Tea Party in Florida are another examples of the muscles of Islamophobia network. ACT! for America
, one of the largest grassroots group dedicated to targeting Muslims, was founded by Brigitte Gabriel in 2007 as a citizen action network to “inform, educate, and mobilize Americans regarding the multiple threats of radical Islam.
ACT! pursues a multipronged strategy for building its activist base. The organization hosts a series of meetings to bring interested activists together and train them with best practices.
But ACT!'s less visible but perhaps more important effort is its focus on local seminars. The group conducts roving training meetings, called “Citizen in Action training conferences,” for its grassroots members to learn the best way to communicate persuasive anti-Muslim messages, root out “suspicious activity in your community,” and “expose political correctness in your local media.”
Training meetings have occurred in Columbia, South Carolina; Bakersfield, Texas; Delray Beach, Florida; Denver, Colorado; and other locations since 2009.
ACT!'s most successful effort to date is the 2009 launch of its Stop Sharia Now
project to increase public awareness of the manufactured threat of creeping Sharia into America. Since then, ACT! introduced David Yerushalmi's “anti-Sharia” bill to elected officials in several states. Stop Islamization of America
was founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer to fight radical Islam.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, however, the SOIA “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy 'American' values.”
In the summer of 2010, SIOA led protests against the Park51 community center in New York City, which Geller and the industry deliberately mislabeled the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
In February 2011, SIOA released the film “The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 911 Attacks,” which chronicles the protest movements against the “mosque” and features Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and radical conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart. The Religious Right
The religious right's relationship with the Islamophobia network grows increasingly tighter.
Well established groups, among them the American Family Association and Eagle Forum, have broadened organizing efforts from traditional social values hot button issues such as gay marriage and abortion to include spreading conspiracy theories about Muslims.
Here we will introduce four prominent leaders on the religious right. John Hagee
is the founder of Christians United for Israel, the CEO of Global Evangelism Television and the also founder of a mega-church called Cornerstone.
Hagee perpetuates several myths about Islam and American Muslims:
· “America is at war with radical Islam…. Jihad has come to America. If we lose the war to Islamic fascism, it will change the world as we know it.”
· “They are trained from the breast of their mother to hate us. Radical Islam is a doctrine of death. It is their desire, it is their hope, it is their ambition, it is their highest honor to die in a war against infidels. And you are 'infidels' and there is nothing you can do to accommodate them. That's what makes them so dangerous.”
· “Radical sects, which include about 200 million Islamics, believe they have a command from God to kill Christians and Jews.” Pat Robertson
is the founder of Christian Broadcasting Network. He also established the American Center for Law and Justice
which filed a lawsuit to block the construction of the Park51 community center in New York City. Ralph Reed
founded the Faith and Freedom Coalition. In its recent annual conference, the Faith and Freedom Coalition featured CSP's Frank Gaffney, who gave a talk on “Defeating Terrorism and Jihad.”
At the conference, Gaffney suggested, “It is certainly possible we'd have a Muslim flag flying over the White House,” and hoped FFC would “take up the fight against shari'ah.” Franklin Graham
is an American Christian evangelist and the President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization.
Franklin Graham called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion” in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.
Graham says the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration and is shaping US foreign policy.
On April 22, 2010, the Pentagon rescinded his invitation to speak at the National Day of Prayer event in response to his anti-Islam, fear-mongering comments.
American Family Association, Eagle Forum, and Tennessee Freedom Coalition joined forces with ACT! for American and Center for Security Policy to push anti-Muslim issues.
Across the country, many grassroots conservative organizations have championed causes pushed by the Islamophobia network.
These groups harness paranoia and hate spread in society by a multitude of other actors in the anti-Muslim sphere.
They couldn't exist, however, without a propaganda machine that provides constant ammunition for these captains of hate to spur networks of activists into action alongside willing media enablers. The Right-Wing Media Enablers Of Anti-Islam Propaganda
The think tank misinformation experts and grassroots and religious-right organizations boast a symbiotic relationship with a loosely aligned, ideologically-akin group of blogs, magazines, radio stations, newspapers, and television news shows to spread their anti-Islam messages and myths.
These right-wing media outlets play a major role in pushing out a playlist of nonexistent Sharia threats, Islamic takeovers of the world, extremist Muslim infiltration into society and government, and more.
Chief among the media partners are the Fox News
empire, the influential conservative magazine National Review and its website, a host of right-wing radio hosts, The Washington Times newspaper and website, and the Christian Broadcasting Network and website. The Websites
A network of right-wing websites and blogs are the primary movers of anti-Muslim messages and myths. The two most influential are:
1. David Horowitz Freedom Center websites and online magazines, including FrontPage Magazine, Jihad Watch, NewsReal Blog, and its various conferences
2. Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs blog
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, founded in 1988 by Horowitz, is a well-funded key player in amplifying the alleged threats of Muslim extremism. It was among anti-Muslim US players which Norway terrorist Anders Breivik cited in his manifesto.
Horowitz Center has two online magazines, FrontPage Magazine
and Jihad Watch
, directed by Robert Spencer through which the ideas of fellow anti-Muslim bigots such as Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer are amplified.
For instance, they used FrontPage Magazine to promote their Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition
, which aimed to shut down a New York City public school simply because it taught Arabic language and culture.
Pamela Geller uses her blog, Atlas Shrugs, to promote a slew of conspiratorial claims. They include: President Obama is a Muslim; Arabic is not just a language but actually a spearhead for anti-Americanism; radical Islam has infiltrated our government, which is being run by Islamic supremacists; and Muslims are engaged in stealth cultural jihad by wearing their head scarves at Disneyland.
Anders Breivik cited Geller 12 times in his manifesto. Although Geller defended herself against any connection, she then condemned the Norwegian Labour Party summer youth camp, whose children had been attacked by Breivik.
Geller called the camp part of an anti-Israel “indoctrination training center.”
She further claimed that the children and young people who were killed by Breivik would have grown up to become “leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole.” Hate Radio
Anti-Muslim websites cooperate with popular radio talk-show hosts who repeat and amplify the alarmist threats and conspiracy theories promoted by the blogs and their supporters. The Rush Limbaugh Show
, carried by more than 600 radio stations nationwide, is the most popular radio talk show in America and is broadcast to more than 15 million listeners a week.
Limbaugh joins Pamela Geller and others as a vociferous critic of the Park51 community center in New York City.
During the protests last summer, he charged that the community center was a “recruiting tool for foreign extremists.” The Sean Hannity Show
as the nation's second most popular talk show has nearly 14 million listeners every week, and repeats the same talking points and conspiracy theories that can be heard on Limbaugh, Fox News, and other places. The Savage Nation
. More than 350 radio stations broadcast his show to nearly 9 million weekly listeners. Savage is known for his angry diatribes against minorities, including Muslims.
On April 17, 2006, for example, he told listeners that Americans should “kill 100 million” Muslims. In October 2007 he suggested that American Muslims be deported. The Glenn Beck Program
is broadcast by more than 400 stations and syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks.
Beck conjures fears equating Muslims with terrorists and brings religion into the mix. Last December, he speculated on his show about the number of American Muslims who might be terrorists, saying: “Let's say it's half a percent of the U.S. population. That's being generous. What's that number? What is the number of Islamic terrorists, 1 percent? I think it's closer to 10 percent.” The Right-Wing Mainstream News Enablers of Islamophobia Fox News
has one of the biggest and most influential megaphones in TV news, and uses this megaphone to amplify anti-Muslim alarmist threats and conspiracy theories on a regular basis.
Virtually all the leading Islamophobia players have made recurring appearances on popular Fox News programs, and repeat the same threats they warned about on radio shows and in blogs, newspapers, online magazines, and more.
Their staple threats include: Muslims imposing Sharia in America, Muslims establishing a global caliphate, Muslims engaging in homegrown jihad, and Muslims infiltrating President Obama's administration to promote dangerous Islamist agendas.
According to a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, there is a strong correlation between holding erroneous views about Muslims and Islam and watching Fox News.
· Americans who most trust Fox News are more likely to believe that Muslims want to establish Sharia law, have not done enough to oppose extremism, and believe investigating Muslim extremism is a good idea.
· Nearly twice as many Republicans as Democrats believe that Muslims want to establish Sharia law in America, 31 percent to 15 percent. One third of white evangelical Christians believe this compared to 20 percent of white protestants and 22 percent of white Catholics. The Christian Broadcasting Network
CBN, founded by Pat Robertson in 1961, has less national influence than Fox News, but great influence among conservative religious viewers.
On his “700 Club” TV show, Robertson compared Muslims to Nazis and called Islam “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination.” National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine, founded in 1955, which publishes Andrew McCarthy, the author of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. It also publishes pieces by Daniel Pipes. The Washington Times
Despite its small readership, The Washington Times wields a considerable influence in the national media because many of the views it raises and voices it carries are picked up by media outlets with powerful megaphones, like Fox News and talk-radio shows, helping spread anti-Muslim messages into the larger public sphere
The Washington Times, for example, helped promote a flawed study about US mosques written by David Yerushalmi. The newspaper's editorial page added to attacks against Park51 in August of 2010. And columnists from The Washington Times have contributed to the myth that President Obama is a Muslim. The Clarion Fund
It was founded by Canadian-Israeli film producer and Rabbi Raphael Shore. The organization contributed to the production and dissemination of the inflammatory anti-Muslim movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam's War on the West.”
The film “reveals an 'insider's view' of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination.” The film was also cited in Breivik's manifesto.
The Clarion Fund also produced a documentary, “The Third Jihad,” narrated by Zudhi Jasser which was briefly used to train NYPD officers on counterterrorism. The Political Players
The success of the Islamophobia network in tarring Islam and all Muslims with calculated misinformation would not be possible without the individuals and their organizations mentioned earlier.
Messages can spread far and wide because of the small but effective groups of funders and think tanks, right-wing grassroots and religious groups, and their right-wing media enablers on cable TV, radio, and the Internet.
But the ability of this tightly knit network to drench the public with misinformation is greatly enhanced by elected officials at the state and national level-politicians who push these myths as “facts” and then craft political fundraising campaigns and get out-the-vote strategies based on debunked information about Muslims and Islam.
For example Rep. Peter King (R-NY) held congressional hearings this spring on the alleged threat of Muslim extremism in the United States, parroting the debunked claim that 80 percent of mosques in America are radical.
Rep. King is a hero to many anti-Muslim bigots. In 2010 he received the annual American for National Security Patriot Award from Brigitte Gabriel's activist group, ACT! for America. Accepting the award, Rep. King expressed gratitude for
the group's support, saying, “We are engaged in a brutal war with a brutal enemy, the enemy of Islamic terrorism.”
Across the country, anti-Muslim grassroots groups and individuals promote elected
officials like King. This select group of officials, in turn, relies on a familiar handful of “experts”-and employs three basic strategies that harness the power of the political pulpit to shift public opinion:
· Elected officials and political leaders promote anti-Muslim messages through legislative actions, legislative oversight hearings, and electoral debates. Many of these efforts make the news.
· They launch fundraising appeals and campaign commercials based on the misconceptions and myths about Islam.
· They appear on like-minded media outlets and at conferences to repeat their talking points and argue their case.
Key players, men and women who are misdirecting the public debate about Islam in Congress and in State Houses across the country, are:
· Rep. Peter King (Republican-NY)
· Rep. Sue Myrick (Republican -NC)
· Rep. Paul Broun (Republican -GA)
· Rep. Allen West (Republican -FL)
· Rep. Renee Ellmers (Republican -NC)
· Rep. Michele Bachmann (Republican -MN) Rep. Peter King
The chairman of the Select Committee on Homeland Security in the House of Representatives who has become known for casting suspicion on entire Muslim American communities.
In a 2007 interview with Politico he said, “There are too many mosques in this country. There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them.”
In March, he held congressional hearings titled “Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response.”
During the hearing he relied on Steven Emerson for many of his outlandish claims. Using Emerson as his source, Rep. King insisted that “80 to 85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists. I'll stand by that number of 85 percent. This is an enemy living amongst us.”
One of the most influential witnesses at Rep. King's hearings was Zuhdi Jasser, the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who was introduced earlier in the report.
The claim that 80 percent of mosques in American are radicalized was debunked during the King hearings. Anti-Muslim bigots, however, continued to pump life into it. For instance, David Yerushalmi released a study on June 17 that repeated the claim.
The study was published by Middle East Forum Quarterly, a journal on Middle Eastern affairs founded by Daniel Pipes and released through his think tank, the Middle East Forum. Rep. Sue Myrick
In January 2007, Rep. Myrick claimed to be concerned that President George W. Bush and other officials were not taking the threat of “Islamofacism infiltration” seriously enough-and so she founded the Anti-Terrorism Caucus.
Today, she is a leading opponent of Muslims and Islam on the Hill, and now chairs the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence.
In April she held her own hearings on the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood and their influence and ties with Muslim American organizations.
Rep. Myrick even launched a YouTube video series to warn the American public of Muslim extremists among us who “are now in positions in our government. Rep. Paul Broun
A fourth-term representative from Georgia's 10th congressional district, he joined Rep. Myrick and other colleagues at a press conference in 2009 to amplify the claim of Muslim Mafia that interns from the Council on American-Islamic Relations were “running influence operations or planting spies in key national security-related” congressional offices.” Rep. Allen West
In the spring of 2004, then US Army Lieutenant Colonel West retired after being given administrative punishment and fined $5,000 for performing a mock execution on an Iraqi detainee.
In his campaign for Congress, candidate West declared “Islam” the enemy and claimed it is not a religion but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology.”
In fact, Rep. West has recommended that Congress focus on the “infiltration of the shari'ah practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization.”
In a briefing called “Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Culminating of the Muslim Brotherhood's 50-year History of Infiltrating America” in July, West he promised to reveal a list containing thousands of names of individuals and organizations of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers and members.
Despite his promises, Rep. West did not unveil the list at the briefing. Rep. Renee Ellmers
In her electoral campaign, Ellmers made an issue of the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York which was stridently anti-Muslim. Rep. Michele Bachmann
Bachmann is the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus and one of the radical right's most consistent anti-Muslim voices.
Recently, she conflated Sharia with terrorism in responding to Osama bin Laden's death, writing “may this be the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”
Her biased views of Muslims and Islam should not be surprising, considering the company she keeps. For instance, she gave the 2010 keynote address at David Horowitz's Restoration Weekend, an annual, elite conference in Palm Beach, Florida. Other participants included Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Pamela Geller. The influence of Islamophobic Members of Congress
Twenty-three states have considered bills banning Sharia, though only a few have passed. Raising fears about Sharia helps whip up public fear about national security issues. Anti-Sharia initiatives could be a way to mobilize anti-Muslim sentiment and increase conservative voter turnout.
There were similar efforts in 2004 with anti-same sex marriage ballot initiatives that aimed to increase voter turnout among the religious right.
In 2012, however, anti-gay ballot initiatives and rhetoric are less effective in driving the conservative base to open its wallets and get to the polls.
David Yerushalmi, the drafter of the model legislation, is transparent about his aims being public attitude not legal substance.
In an interview with The New York Times, he said, speaking of the anti-Sharia legislation, “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose.... The purpose was heuristic-to get people asking this question, 'What is Shariah?'”
The point is to create a distracting, fear-based political atmosphere in which conservatives are brave patriots and strong on defense, while liberals are weak and politically correct. Using such a frame has helped conservatives win. Conclusion
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the Islamophobia network will be working overtime. The anniversary could be manipulated to ratchet up the nonexistent threat of Sharia and warn of apocalyptic dangers stemming from Muslims living in America.
Since 9/11, authorities have identified 161 Muslim American terrorist suspects and perpetrators, according to a 2011 study by University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill sociologist Charles Kurzman.
That's a lot, yet the study, “Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting,” concludes that “out of the thousands of acts of violence that occur in the United States each year, an efficient system of government prosecution and media coverage brings Muslim-American terrorism suspects to national attention, creating the impression-perhaps unintentionally-that Muslim-American terrorism is more prevalent than it really is.”
These cases enable the Islamophobia network to peddle their myths and misconceptions about Islam. Their rhetoric and actions are deeply unfortunate because they threaten to isolate and alienate a growing portion of the American population.
In 2010, there were an estimated 2.6 million American Muslims. That number is expected to more than double over the next 20 years, to 6.2 million.