The "Islamophobes" That Aren't
By: Stephen Schwartz
Tech Central Station | Thursday, April 28, 2005
A continuous propaganda of grievance emanates from the Wahhabi lobby in America - the range of organizations that make up the country's "Islamic" establishment. Backed by Saudi Arabia and its state cult, which is the most extreme form of the religion of Muhammad, as well as by the Muslim Brotherhood (based in Egypt), and the jihadist Jama'ati movement in Pakistan, these groups have benign names: the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), the Arab American Institute (AAI), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
Such entities complain, above all, about "profiling" -- the alleged practice of selecting American Muslims for particular governmental scrutiny as potential terrorism suspects. "Profiling" has become a politically-correct cliché equated with stereotyping and discrimination, to such an absurd degree that in January, during the elections in Iraq, I was confronted by an Iraqi Sunni advocate who accused me of "profiling" Iraqis because I pointed out the differences between Sunnis and Shia Muslims over the future of the Baghdad government.
American governmental "profiling" of Arabs and Muslims has been a trivial phenomenon at worst. U.S. federal investigators have in most cases been extremely cautious, notwithstanding hysterical claims and rumors fostered by the Wahhabi lobby. This blather focuses on accusations of wholesale injustice and supposed preparation of internment for Arabs and Muslims, comparable to the wartime relocation of the ethnic Japanese in the Western U.S. during the second world war.
It is seldom noticed, however, that the Wahhabi lobby engages in its own forms of profiling, which mainly consist of branding every opponent of Islamist radicalism an "Islamophobe." In addition, the charge often includes labeling of such critics as Jews, Zionists, and Israeli agents.
Notwithstanding the arguments of some Westerners, Islamophobia exists; it is not a myth. Islamophobia consists of:
- attacking the entire religion of Islam as a problem for the world;
- condemning all of Islam and its history as extremist;
- denying the active existence, in the contemporary world, of a moderate Muslim majority;
- insisting that Muslims accede to the demands of non-Muslims (based on ignorance and arrogance) for various theological changes, in their religion;
- treating all conflicts involving Muslims (including, for example, that in Bosnia-Hercegovina a decade ago), as the fault of Muslims themselves;
- inciting war against Islam as a whole.
But some of the individuals most frequently assailed by the Wahhabi lobby as Islamophobes are nothing of the sort.
Doubtless, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum has experienced more denunciation as an "Islamophobe" than any other individual in the West. Yet Pipes has never once criticized the religion of Islam per se; he has never argued that the faith of Muhammad represents any problem, but has only censured its politicization and ideologization. No sincere Muslim should be able to counter his analysis, because it has always been held within the faith that while Islam is good, Muslims act badly.
Second in the rank of targets for the charge of Islamophobia has been the terrorism expert Steven Emerson. Similarly, however, Emerson has never engaged or even commented on issues of Islam as a religion, or Muslims as a general community. He has done nothing more than carry out detailed, sustained, and irrefutable investigations of identifiable radicals within the Muslim community.
I and other Sufis have also been vilified as "Islamophobes," although the Jewish and Zionist allegation has been employed more frequently against us. But in any case, individuals like Pipes, Emerson, myself, and certain Sufis have been victims of "profiling," along with the other members of the institution I recently founded, the Center for Islamic Pluralism (see my TCS column on this topic [www.techcentralstation.com/033005D.html] and our website [www.islamicpluralism.org]). While the Wahhabi lobby expends tears and shouts over their "profiling," whom do we have, but ourselves, to take our side against such irresponsible agitation?
Beginning soon after September 11, 2001, I began accumulating a file of examples in which those who agreed with or supported me and other anti-extremist Muslims were "profiled" by the Wahhabi lobby and their Saudi backers:
- April 18, 2002: The so-called Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC), a Wahhabi front, posted to its weblog an "exposure" of my work, consisting largely of a recycled Jew-baiting assault, first published in the Russian Communist-fascist website Pravda.
- September 26, 2002: Randall "Ismail" Royer, later sentenced to 20 years in U.S. federal custody for his role in armed jihadist activities, attacked my friend Ali al-Ahmed, dissident and human rights monitor from Saudi Arabia, for joining a "Kosher Nostra" purportedly including Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, as well as myself.
- March 2003: A barely-literate Muslim who calls himself Haneef James Oliver published a hoax pamphlet titled The Wahhabi Myth, including, among other absurdities, the claim that Osama bin Laden is a Sufi!
- July 21, 2003: In response to a book review I published in the Los Angeles Times, Jihad al-Khazen, a columnist for the Saudi daily al-Hayat known for his racism and vulgarity, referred to me as "another American Jew" allegedly promoting Israeli control of Iraq.
- April 8, 2004: Based on documents purloined from Daniel Pipes, a "journalist" named Jim Lobe, representing a shadowy "news service" called Inter Press, accused Pipes and myself of attempting to create a "neoconservative Islam." Lobe repeated the libel that Pipes is an Islamophobe, and portrayed efforts to organize moderate Muslims as Israeli-controlled.
- April 17, 2004: Amr Butler, collaborator of Randall Royer and originator of the AMPAC blog in Australia, resumed his Wahhabi apologetics in the form of new personal attacks on the blog www.atrueword.com.
- February 24, 2005: Having again violated the privacy of Pipes' private communications, and clearly disturbed by the impending inauguration of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Jim Lobe returned to the fray, accusing Pipes and myself of participating in a "crusade" against "Islamists" who, in the Lobean universe, do not exist.
- March 4, 2005: Lobe found an echo in the Saudi news site Arab News. There an American woman named Adrienne MacPhail, a previously unknown apologist for Wahhabism living in Japan, portrayed the new Center for Islamic Pluralism as the creation and property of Daniel Pipes. Pipes was predictably described, in an outright lie, as "instilling a combination of fear and prejudice in the American public." I was accused of "preaching a doctrine that is based on very limited fact."
- March 8, 2005: With the foundation of CIP approaching, the heat turned up. A "Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth" issued a hate manifesto headed "Dangerous Reprobates Who Claim to be Muslims," and offering a feature titled "Know Thy Enemies" at www.sahib.londoners.ca, a Canadian blog, libeling me and other Sufis.
- March 9, 2005: Jihad al-Khazen weighed in again, using his al-Hayat column to blast me as someone who "claimed jokingly that he was an expert in Balkans (sic) affairs" -- something about which I have never joked. Al-Khazen's rage led him to describe me as a "clown," a "fundamentalist," and, since I am a contributor to The Weekly Standard, as a henchman of "the Israeli cabal" and "Israeli apologist" once I returned from the Balkans.
- March 19, 2005: An Arab-American writer, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, who appropriated the name of the famous Arab television network to create a blog called "Al-Jazeerah.info" -- with no connection to said TV broadcaster -- falsely claimed that I have propounded "the promotion of Sufism in Islam for U.S. policy objectives" -- the exact opposite of the position I have taken, in which I have called for Sufism to remain independent of political and similar interests (see my TCS column at www.techcentralstation.com/021005C.html).
- March 26, 2005: Islamonline.net, a radical Islamist blog, posted a text by an Egyptian writer living in the U.S., Salwa Rashad, accusing me and Pipes as "Islamophobes… aggressively organizing propaganda," and guilty of bigotry and "anti-Muslim hate."
- April 9, 2005: A blog run by "Manal and Alaa" recycled an allegation by a notorious Egyptian extremist, Fahmi Huwaidy, accusing the Center for Islamic Pluralism of seeking to "fragment Islam" and attempting "to shove aside the elected leaders of the American Muslim community." Sorry, the American Muslim community has no "elected leaders," least of all in the form of the Wahhabi lobby, whose only votes consist of Saudi funds. The founders of CIP were "profiled" as "shady personalities with no constituencies."
- March 31, 2005: Another blog, mistitled "ihsan-net.blogspot.com" (ihsan is Arabic for "benevolence") published a dossier targeting me and the other founders of CIP, regurgitating the fantasies of Amr Butler and sundry extremists. The blog included an anti-Jewish cartoon of a Satanic-appearing Pipes declaring "CIP is very diverse: so far we have three Zionist Jews, two Evangelical Christians, and one agnostic!" In reality, CIP includes none of the above, and no such individuals in CIP can be so identified, unless the term "Zionist Jew" in the cartoon referred to me.
If I were a Zionist Jew, I would have nothing to be ashamed of. I am a Sufi and Sunni Muslim from a mixed Jewish and Christian background, and have always advocated for peace in the Middle East. The question remains: who is doing the "profiling" here, and what, aside from incitement, is intended? Further, what other than panic in the Wahhabi lobby could elicit such a feverish reaction?
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