Posts Tagged ‘Islamophobia’

May 19th, 2017

A State of suspicion: Counter-radicalization in Norway

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Norwegian rally against ISIS and the Prophet's Ummah, August 18 2014. Photo: Sindre BangstadAt the national party congress of the governing populist right-wing Progress Party in Norway in May, the assembled party delegates adopted resolutions calling for state control of Norwegian mosques in the name of preventing “radicalization into violent extremism.” The Progress Party (FrP) also adopted resolutions calling for the Norwegian state to introduce compulsory Christian prayers in public schools, for a national ban on the wearing of the Islamic headscarf (the hijab) for pupils under the age of sixteen in public schools, and for a national ban on circumcision of male children. In other words, the run-up to the Norwegian parliamentary elections in September 2017, which will make it clear whether the right-wing coalition government of the Conservative Party and the populist right-wing Progress Party will fall or be returned to power, is in full swing.

And as it has since the mid-1980s, the FrP will run this parliamentary election campaign on a platform of a politics of fear and division—targeting immigrants, in general, and Muslim minorities, in particular.

April 26th, 2017

The American tradition of tolerance and free speech

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Thomas Jefferson's Qur'anMuch has happened since Denise Spellberg’s Thomas Jeffersons Qur’an came out in 2013. When I first read it, I treasured it for challenging grand narratives of Islam vs. “the West.” But now, sadly, I take away a different lesson: Rather than focusing on the tolerance espoused by some of our Founding Fathers, I am instead struck by Spellberg’s insights into the intolerance in our history and how easily attacks against a perceived Other can lead to vitriol aimed at religious and ethnic minorities more widely. Today we often refer to “Judeo-Christian civilization” but, as Spellberg points out, this term excludes Muslims from that shared history. Spellberg’s book reminds us of the strong tradition of tolerance in the United States, but also of how it is easy to fall short of that goal. . . .

Thus, Thomas Jeffersons Qur’an has proven incredibly valuable for teaching. It provides students with concrete evidence against a simplistic narrative of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West. As Spellberg points out, while Jefferson may have personally held some bigoted views about Muslims, he retained his curiosity about Islam and opposed any kind of religious test for American citizenship or political office; Jefferson supported the possibility of a future Muslim president.

December 20th, 2016

Religion and the new populism

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Light trailThe push for stronger cultural identities and political borders in the new populism is inseparable from the general concern about Islam and immigration. Most of the new populists are promoting a one-sided criticism of Islam. This is connected to the public fears of terrorism, angst about Sharia, the status of women in Muslim communities, demographic tensions (aging European populations with lower birth rates and younger immigrant populations with higher birthrates), and issues surrounding the social integration of immigrants. In this context, talk about the Jewish and Christian heritage of the West has reemerged in secular Europe and in the United States as an alternative identity-forming heritage. . .

In light of this religious and political discourse today across the Western world, there is a need to have an open discussion about this idea of the Jewish and Christian heritage of the Western world. While some are using this concept to exclude others, the religious heritage of the West can actually be a positive resource for multiculturalism, peaceful social integration, and humanitarian aid.

December 7th, 2016

Obama, the Democratic Party, and Islamophobia

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Islam | Image via Flickr user FirasWhile reasonable people might disagree with him for his compromises on questions involving universal health care and his approach to the Great Recession—especially given the fact that he had to deal with a thoroughly intransigent Congress—it is much harder to let Obama off the hook for his failure to take a strong stand against Islamophobia. This is especially puzzling insofar as the facts that he bears a Muslim name and was born to a Muslim father were repeatedly used by his Republican enemies to delegitimize him. Yet, to my knowledge, he never once responded to these charges in a fashion that reinforced the equal citizenship of Muslims in the United States. While he ridiculed the claim that he was a Muslim, he did not, unlike Colin Powell, state the constitutionally appropriate answer: that whether or not he was a Muslim was not relevant to whether he could or should become president of the United States, much less did it disqualify him from being president of the United States.

October 20th, 2016

American Muslims between legal citizenship and public exclusion

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Image via Flickr user Quinn DombrowskiHate crimes against American Muslims have spiked to their highest levels since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. While some of the rise is due to recent terrorist attacks, it is also connected with the heated rhetoric of the presidential race. Recent studies have noted that Muslims surpass atheists as the most unpopular group in the United States.

Muslims who are citizens of the state continue to be seen and treated as aliens of the nation. In the current fraught moment, the constitution of Islam as a legitimate American religion remains a fragile process.

October 4th, 2016

The politics of national identity: Introduction

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Image via Flickr user Quinn DombrowskiReligion is increasingly recognized as a defining feature of political life and as a constitutive element of individual and collective identities. The question is no longer whether religion matters, but how. The contributors to this discussion—which began as a session at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, co-sponsored by the sections on the Sociology of Religion and Culture—explore this question through the lens of political contestation over national identity.

February 17th, 2015

Values and violence: Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

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Until last month’s attack, Charlie Hebdo was little known beyond France. In the wake of the massacre, however, it was quickly valorized as a symbol of freedom of expression and French secularism, and the hashtag #JesuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”) spread rapidly across social media. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared a “war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.” On January 11, 2015, more than a million people, including 40 of the world’s political leaders—not all of whom are otherwise known for their support of free speech—marched together in Paris.

The week after the massacre, Charlie Hebdo’s “All is forgiven” issue featured a cover depicting the prophet Muhammad in tears, holding a sign that read “Je suis Charlie.”

The violence, and responses to it, have raised a slew of questions. Is it helpful, or even accurate, to characterize these killings as religiously motivated? How have the attack and responses to it helped to construct or entrench the identities said to be in conflict? Should the events be understood in the context of France’s history of satire or its history of colonialism? Can the two be separated in this case? What is the significance of the willingness of many not only to affirm free expression, but also to identify themselves with the magazine? Are there limits to the freedom of expression?

January 13th, 2015

The Charlie Hebdo shootings

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On Wednesday, January 7th, two masked assailants stormed the Paris headquarters of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, killed 12 people, and wounded 11 others. Police quickly identified 3 suspects—the shooters and a suspected getaway driver. The following day, in a suburb of Paris, a masked gunman (later linked to the brothers suspected of carrying out the magazine massacre) fatally shot a policewoman. By Friday, all three gunmen had been killed in separate hostage situations, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying that they were intended to teach the French “that the freedom of expression has limits and boundaries.”

July 9th, 2013

Buddhists, Time, and religious unrest in Burma

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At Religion Dispatches, Alan Senauke writes about Time magazine’s July 1st issue and its consequences in Burma.

November 30th, 2012

Islamophobia and antisemitism in Europe

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The latest issue of the journal of the Jewish Museum Berlin features an article by Yasemin Shooman, a German historian, comparing anti-Muslim racism (Islamophobia) and antisemitism.

May 9th, 2012

Backlash against Muslims?

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At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf attempts to prove wrong writers, political commentators, and politicians who claim that post-9/11 Islamophobia is a media-conceived, unsubstantiated hoax.

April 16th, 2012

Muslims and the Republican party

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Nona Willis Aronowitz, at GOOD, discusses the impact that Republican, anti-Islamic rhetoric has had on Muslim voters.

February 3rd, 2012

Secularism and The Third Jihad

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At The Revealer, Jeremy F. Walton offers insight on the recent controversy surrounding the NYPD’s use of The Third Jihad in police training activities.

August 26th, 2011

Fear, Inc.: a report on the roots of Islamophobia

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The Center for American Progress has a new report out on the groups and individuals fomenting the rising tide of Islamophobia in the U.S.

August 22nd, 2011

Islamophobia and terror in Norway

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At openDemocracy, Sindre Bangstad writes on the domestic conditions in which Anders Behring Breivik concocted and attempted to justify his recent dual attacks on a government building and summer camp in Norway