Hamza Yusuf and Crisis of Anti-Islam Propaganda

This is part two of the Zaytuna Institute event addressing how Muslims can understand and address stereotypes and discrimination in a positive manner. Make sure to read my summary of Imam Zaid Shakir’s speech as well.

What is Islamophobia

– A Dry Bones cartoon depicts how intolerant and fearful of Muslims is really sane and rational
– All religious people are able to be prejudiced except for Jewish. It is not accepted to criticize them because their religious and ethnic identity mixed.
-There are different definitions of Islamophobia from dictionaries and civil rights organizations

-Author and athiest Sam Harris says Islam is not what being prejudiced, because if you read the book (Qur’an) you will see what it is
-Harris said in his book it’s okay to send preemptive strike on Muslim countries
-If said about any other religion, that person would not have a book tour let alone publishing contract

-Frank Gaffney-not expert on Sharia- still wants to explain anyway what it is and why it is a threat to America

taqiyyah-commonly used term against Muslims that they are permitted to lie and used as an excuse of anti-Islamic people to say “I cannot understand you or believe you, because you are lying”
-They consider all verses about sincerity abrogated, no longer applicable
-A psychology is created that works against accepting truth and information

Muslims in the eyes of other faiths
-many Orthodox Jews stood with Muslims
-Pope said holy for Christians to fight in Crusades-help plunder Eastern world,     unify infighting in Christianity
-Muslims given al-Aqsa until colonial period
-Crusade mentality of Western consciousness
-European identity-positive-Christian, negative-not Muslim
-entire history was in confrontation with Islam, Ottomans like evil empire at gates
-when Pope gave speech about Byzantine ruler Manuel-famous for traveling all heads of Europe because going to fall to Muslim, warning of collapse of Constantinople
-Pope is a European connoisseur and Christian intellectual/theologian
-knows positive identity of religion is collapsing, Europe is post-Christian now, so only part of identity left is that of being not Muslim
-Pope’s idea: allowing proliferation of Muslims in Europe is bad, because those who fought Turks will now wake up under control of Muslims again
-9/11 event likened to Pearl Harbor
-Many people know exactly where they were, when they heard about attacks, became a powerful image on consciousness
-Who did this? “Evil Muslims” Same people in Europe, begins with Song of Roland in European literature

Use of forms of media and propaganda

-Demonization of Islam was going by groups well before 9/11, only became accelerated afterward
-A certain fundamentalist strain of Christianity has been warning of rise of Islam
-Cartoons: show violent, backwards Middle Eastern women, crazed about things that aren’t important and less concerned about violence and suicide attacks
-Similar to propaganda cartoons done to Jews by Nazis, interesting that depictions of Arabs and Jews look similar in features. Both are Semites and brothers of Ishaq, so close connection

-Books by non-Muslims about Muslims are bestsellers, show up on talk show radio, FOX News, sold in Christian bookstores
-books by former Muslims-Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan
-books by Muslim Reformists-Irshad Manji etc. think Islam hasn’t evolved unlike other religions

-Okay in the US to be racist against Arabs, but against African or Jewish, a radio show host or TV host would be off the air
-Impact: Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck think Islam should be compared to totalitarian ideologies, not other religions
-Websites: Unveiling Taqiyya, Move America Forward, Conservative Dialysis, Walid Shoebat, Gates of Vienna, Jihad Watch
-Anti-Muslim demonstrations: at ICNA event to raise money for homeless people in Yorba Linda community, Councilwoman even spoke in support of such protests

Possible Responses by American Muslims

-this is 10 years later since 9/11, it’s been going on continuously, because the seeds have  been planted
-CAIR doesn’t have the budget to answer and respond to all these attacks, none of the Islamic organizations have the budget
-Muslim community has “our nutcases” that fuel the fire, but community needs to stop them and put them into check. They are either stupid or false provocateurs and cannot be part of our religion
-Bad representations for Muslims are those like Shariah for UK group, people with posters that say “Behead those who say Islam is violent.”
-There is Anti-Muslim propaganda already from inside the Muslim community, its no wonder why others are afraid of us

-Muslims need to help against anti-Islam propaganda with CAIR, ICNA, MSA

Discrimination of minorities in US

-This is part of the process of coming to America
Demonization of Native Americans
-cartoons showing natives massacring white women
-Wounded Knee
-1492-1898-Natives fighting to defend their lives, extraordinary  testament to human spirit
Demonization of African Americans
-segregation, Jim Crow laws,
Demonization of Chinese Americans
-stopping immigration, high taxes, low wages
-Japanese internment camps, still possible to have camps under Constitution, hasn’t been repealed, only made apology in 1970,
Demonization of Jews
-Portrayed as evil, wealthy, miserly as terrorists in USSR, scapegoated by Hitler in Nazi Germany

Demonization of Irish
-NINA signs: No Irish Need Apply
-shown as drunk, fighters
-Hamza Yusuf great great grandfather on father side part of history was in Philadelphia, was O’Hanson changed to Hanson
-1% of population Irish at beginning of US history, millions come in 1840’s. As a result, a nativist party emerged against Irish and Catholicism and burned down St. Augustine Church May 6, 1844

Possibilities of Assimilating are numerous

-Natives are trying to revive tradition, now celebrated part of US history
-African Americans after protests, speakers, intellectuals, athletes have become mainstream
-Chinese accepted largely through food, tai chi, now seen as healers and wise people
-Japanese are in government official positions
-Irish are now 1/4 of US population, biggest parade is St. Patrick’s Day, now part of American tapestry, JFK broke the barrier as an Irish Catholic president. Conan O’Brien is a popular talk show host.
-Mexican Americans struggled for civil rights like Cesar Chavez, organized businesses and entered mass media

Takeaway point: This country is evolving and will continue to evolve. It’s changing in some ways that are bad and some good. We’ve made great advances, while others are deeply troubling.

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