WASHINGTON – A 2010 Time Magazine poll found 28 percent of voters do not think Muslims should sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, while almost one-third of the country thinks Muslims should be barred from running for president.
Things haven't gotten better: A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed 49 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam. Why this 10 percent increase from October 2002? Why are anti-Muslim sentiments more prominent than a year after the tragic attacks Sept. 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a crashed flight in Pennsylvania?
The answer is clearly an Islamophobia network, according to an investigative study by the Center for American Progress. The study, "Fear, Inc.," concluded a small group of so-called "experts" have undertaken the task of "profoundly misrepresenting Islam and American Muslims in the United States."
"What looks like generalized unfairness or intolerance is really not that at all. It's actually fairly well planned, organized and executed," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) at a hearing on Islamophobia earlier this month.
"It is being carried out in a way that's difficult to understand unless you do what these researchers have done which is to probe the very roots of the issue to the donors, to the funders, the propagandists all the way out to people who voice some of these things to others," said the Muslim lawmaker. "This has to be seen as an American problem."
The 130-page report identifies funding streams that support anti-Muslim activities, the intellectual nexus of the Islamophobia network, the grassroots players and organizations that help spread messages of hate, the media amplifiers, and the elected officials who support anti-Muslim causes.
The report found an Islamophobia megaphone starts with funders that include the Donors Capital Fund, the Russell Berrie Foundation and the Fairbrook Foundation who over the past 10 years have contributed $42.6 million to anti-Islam causes.
The funds go to support their "misinformation experts," Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum, David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said the report.
The misinformation experts generate lies like there is a "creeping Sharia threat," "all Muslims are terrorists," "mosques are incubators for terrorism," the "Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated mosques" and "President Obama is a Muslim," explained Faiz Shakir, one of the report authors.
"There are only five key people who are considered their scholars. They put together the reports and so-called facts. They then give it to the media and politicians who then serve as their validators," said Shakir. "This problem won't go away easily. There is a grassroots effort to fan Muslim hate for political benefit."
According to the report David Yerushalmi's "model legislation" banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills in South Carolina, Texas and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools has been picked up nationwide.
The "misinformation experts" are echoed and broadcast, often worldwide, by the religious right, politicians like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.), right-wing media such as Fox News, Washington Times, National Review, and talked about by media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, the report said. Then the misinformation is moved around the country by grassroots organizations such as the Eagle Forum and the American Family Association, it added.
The Islamophobia Network's message was cited by accused Norway terrorist Anders Brevik whose 1,500-page manifesto includes footnotes and in text citations to American bloggers and pundits quoted as experts on Islam's "war against the West."
The man who allegedly shot to death 69 people in a rampage against Muslims cited Jihad Watch, which "tracks the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture, 162 times. He also cites the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Forum and the Investigative Project on Terrorism. All of this serves to amplify fear and misinformation to the general public," said the report.
Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer, writing on Human Events, asserted the report's authors were assisting jihadists by ignoring "jihad activity altogether, portraying Muslims as victims and demonizing all who stand in the way of the misogynistic and unjust agenda of the Islamic jihad, whether advanced by violent or nonviolent means."
(Special to the NNPA from The Final Call)