Islamophobia is rife throughout the US and must be wiped out says the author.
Surveys conducted annually by the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] show the number of hate crimes and vandalism rising steadily in the US. The most shocking evidence of anti- Muslim stereotyping surfaced in a 2004 Cornell University survey showing 44 per cent of US citizens polled were so suspicious of Islam that they wanted the civil liberties of all US Muslims curtailed. (1)*
These results disturbed me deeply. They offered, in effect, two profound predictions: first, few elected officials will vote for measures benefiting Muslims or even defend them so long as stereotypes remain prevalent; and second, nearly half of US citizens tend to sympathise with Israel, no matter how brutally it treats Palestinians, simply because it is surrounded as it is by Muslim countries.
Six years later, anti-Islam passions remained unchecked. A Gallup Poll in January 2010 reported that 43 per cent of US citizens admitted they were troubled about Islam. The pollsters said the per cent “was probably an underestimation.” (2)* Since then, legislators in more than 30 US states have introduced laws purporting to prohibit judges and lawyers from making any reference in official legal proceedings to Sharia, the Islamic body of law that is used in a number of Muslim countries.
It was a knee-jerk reaction that reflects anti-Muslim hostility as well as ignorance of other legal procedures. US judges and lawyers must examine the law’s compliance with Sharia when they deal with contracts, including marriages, made in Muslim countries where Sharia is the official legal system. [footnote: Blaming Islam by John R. Bowen, p 99] Attempting to prohibit such references is absurd. To my knowledge, no US Muslim recommends Sharia law as a substitute for the US legal system.
For months, extreme anti-Islam passions were aimed at midlevel US military and civilian leaders attending a course taught by US Army Lt Col Matthew Dooley at the Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia. He told classes that Muslims, “hate everything you stand for and will never co-exist with you unless you submit.”
Lt Col Dooley also declared that Islam is the real enemy of the people, not just “Islamic radicals.” He said Muslim holy cities at Mecca and Medina and other population centres may need to be “destroyed” by bombs without regard to civilian losses. Dooley was relieved of his teaching duties in late April 2012 but he left serious damage in his wake.
Even more alarming than Cooley’s false and inflammatory statements is the fact that over 100 presumably mature and welleducated military officers and government officials attended his lectures before anyone bothered to protest.
Ugly stereotypes of Muslims even infected the FBI training manuals until 2011. They warned agents that “mainstream” US Muslims were likely to be terrorist sympathisers and the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he or she was to be “violent.”(3)*
Stereotypes are already causing as much harm as a fast-growing cancer that is poisoning our entire society from top to bottom, not just causing pain and suffering to US Muslims. Islamophobia must be eradicated before reform of the bias in US Middle East policies can be seriously considered.
(1)* [Associated Press, Ithaca, NY, Dec 18, 2004 Belleville News-Demorat, p 7a]
(2)* [Gallup Group, Religious News Service, Jan 25, 2010]
(3)* [USA Today, 5-11-12 p 10a]