Islamophobia and hate crimes

By Paul J. Balles

31 May 2010

Paul
J. Balles views the correlation between bilge put out by extremist
provokers of hate crimes like Daniel Pipes and other Islamophobic
peddlers of hate speech and the growth of violence and discrimination
against Muslims in the US.

A hate crime or bias
motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally
selects the victim because of his or her membership of a certain group.

According to The Williams Institute, University of California at Los
Angeles School of Law, 12 in 100,000 Muslims were reported as being the
victim of hate crimes. It’s important to note that 15 in 100,000 Jews
were reported being the victims of hate crimes.

The significant difference comes in the handling of these crimes.
Critical comments that associate anyone with being Jewish are simply
forbidden. While a criminal like Bernie Madoff was referred to as
Jewish, it was usually with a rejection of his Jewishness.

Forums recorded remarks like "Madoff is an embarrassment to our
community. How does one get so greedy? It reinforces all the
stereotypes about Jews. Very sad indeed."

"The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic
advocacy group, reported anti-Islamic remarks by a range of American
and Canadian public figures, ‘from congressional candidates to
syndicated columnists’."

When a Muslim does something wrong, he’s portrayed as a member of
an extremist religion. Popular expressions refer to a Muslim as a
jihadist. Jihad is simply the process of "exerting the best efforts",
involving some form of "struggle" and "resistance", to achieve a
particular goal.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, reported
anti-Islamic remarks by a range of American and Canadian public
figures, "from congressional candidates to syndicated columnists.
[They] have portrayed Islam as ‘murderous’ and Palestinians as ‘lower
than pond scum’ or ‘ragheads’, ‘pieces of sh-t’ and ‘turds’.”

After 9/11, on 17 September 2001, CNN reported that "hate crimes
against Muslims and southeast Asians have risen exponentially across
the US in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attacks".

CAIR says it received more than 300 reports of harassment and abuse in
the two days between 11 and 13 September 2001, nearly half the number
it received all the previous year. In Chicago, a man (who wasn’t
Muslim) was beaten for being Muslim by someone who claimed he was
“helping the fight against terrorism”.

In March 2009, Daniel Pipes updated an article he wrote in 2004,
attempting to debunk the existence of hate crimes against Muslims in
the US. Pipes is one of the worst of the breed of media Islamophobes.

The UK newspaper the Guardian
reports on a study written by a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism
officer, Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer, and a former special branch
detective, Dr Robert Lambert, now in the University of Exeter’s
European Muslim research centre.

"… Islamophobes, like Pipes, who preach in public forums have been
free to do what is forbidden when referring to Jews."

"The report provides prima facie and empirical evidence to
demonstrate that assailants of Muslims are invariably motivated by a
negative view of Muslims they have acquired from either mainstream or
extremist nationalist reports or commentaries in the media."

An apt description of the effects of the kind of bilge put out by
extremist provokers of hate crimes like Daniel Pipes. Islamophobes,
like Pipes, who preach in public forums have been free to do what is
forbidden when referring to Jews.

Very simply, Islamophobia is the fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims. According to a 2009 Washington Post report, almost 48 per cent of Americans have unfavourable attitudes towards Muslims, a rise from 24 per cent in 2002.

As freelance writer Dina Malki has pointed out, "right-wing media
commentators use terms like ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘violent Islam’ to
portray Islam as a barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist religion".

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has described Islamophobia as
a term that "refers to unfounded fear of and hostility towards Islam.
Such fear and hostility leads to discriminations against Muslims,
exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political or social process,
stereotyping, the presumption of guilt by association, and finally hate
crimes”.

Thus, the connection between Islamophobia and hate crimes still being
committed against Muslims suggests the dire need of a campaign against
Islamophobes.


Paul J. Balles is a retired American
university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle
East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.
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