Before writing about the “year in review,” it’s important to note that the clock on Islamophobia didn’t begin on January 1, 2012. There are many who have just recently become familiar with Islamophobia, i.e. the irrational fear of Islam and Muslims and hence they may not be familiar with the context of the contemporary malaise we find ourselves in.
While the roots of Euro-American anti-Muslim rage can be traced to an older trans-historical phenomenon of constructing identity through multiple processes of otherization, for our purposes the past few years are enough to provide a beneficial contextual layout. 2010 was dubbed the “Year of Islamophobia” for its unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim hate, most explosively witnessed in the ginned up Cordoba Mosque/Park51 (aka “Ground Zero” Mosque) controversy as well as the increased circulation of irrational conspiracies regarding Islam and the Muslim presence in the so-called “West.” The breakthrough was that the Right would try to transform Islam into political football–just another concept to be used to stoke fears and the “culture wars,”
In the United States we saw the convergence and solidifying of a network of Islamophobes across the nation who joined arms with their brethren across the Atlantic ocean. We were also treated to the Republican party’s instrumentalization and usage of Islam for purposes of fear-mongering during the the run-up to the 2010 elections; add to this mosque controversies, hate crimes, anti-Muslim rallies and your run of the mill nuke Mecca suggestion and you had 2010.
2011 was a year that saw a continuation of the efforts of Islamophobes who sought to garner national attention any way they could. The Peter King McCarthyist hearings on the threat of Radical Islam amongst Muslim Americans was an effort to create undue suspicion of Muslim Americans while at the same time feeding the culture wars of “Shariah hysteria,” “War on Terror,” and “creeping Islamization.” Major victories included the revelations of the funders and backers of the Islamophobia Movement in the seminal Fear, Inc. report, as well as the AP’s uncovering of the NYPD’s dubious spying program on Muslim Americans. Sadly, the tragedy of Utoya and Oslo punctuated the deadly and horrific consequences of the hateful trans-Atlantic Islamophobia Movement, overshadowing efforts against the industry of hate.
The Afghanistan war trudged along as did the drone war which was amplified and contributed to the Greater Islamophobia. Killing innocent, faceless, nameless and uncounted civilians in the pursuit of AlQaeda and the Taliban in undeclared wars in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. In the process our civil liberties have been eroded through the NDAA, US citizens may be killed and held in indefinite detention by our Noble Peace Prize winning Constitutional lawyer President, who is now serving as judge, jury and and executioner. On this the mainstream Right and Left seem to be in agreement: We are supposed to trust him dontchyaknow!? Of course, don’t expect any blowback! Eviscerating innocent civilian Muslims from the skies and other covert-ops have always had positive results in the past.
Oh, and the MEK, you know the first group that our State Department ever designated a “foreign terrorist organization,” you know the one we were funding and from whom prominent politicians were receiving money (i.e. material support) and training and sending to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, well, it’s like magic–they aren’t terrorists anymore!
Spencer Ackerman of Wired.com, a website that ironically has investments in drone technology revealed that Anti-Islam courses were being taught in the US military including the idea that we are “at war with Islam.”
Globally, Anti-Muslim violence flared up in the predominantly Buddhist nations of Sri Lanka and Myanmar where Islamophobia has led to scenes reminiscent of the genocide perpetrated against Bosnian Muslims during the mid-1990’s. Thousands of Rohingyas have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced; the conflict itself does not seem to be abating. Europe has seen tremendous levels of Islamophobia against Muslims in the form of organized attacks on mosques, vandalisms, legislation against veiling, controversies over halal products and of course political parties all over the continent that hold anti-Islam/Muslim policies as cornerstones of their agendas.
Domestically, the Islamic bogeyman, the “Green menace” was still alive and well. Rep.Peter King continued his anti-Muslim hearings. The Republican presidential primary debates were like watching the Islamophobic movie Obsession on an endless loop as the GOP hopefuls tried to out-crazy one another to the top post. Sen.Dick Durbin aptly described the Republican primaries, “Now, listen to these Republican candidates for president. They’re at war with Islam.”
Hate crimes didn’t depreciate but remained high according to the SPLC even by the notoriously understated counts of the FBI. It was revealed that Joshua Scaggs stabbed a “Muslim looking man” to “save his country.” Muslims were targeted in New York in a wave of firebombings by a man who wanted to kill “as many Muslims and Arabs as possible.” Arsons, vandalisms and attacks on Mosques and Muslims (or Muslim looking people) were regular features of 2012 LoonViolence. Randolph Linn admitted that he set fire to a Toledo, Ohio Mosque because of what he learned about Muslims “from Fox News.” Shariah hysteria was still being aggressively pushed in the legislatures of some states though in general it saw a retreat.
Robert Spencer refused to debate Danios, finding one excuse after another and another and another. Instead Spencer and Geller continued to use the name of the slain Jessica Mokdad for a conference on the so-called threat of US based “Islamic honor killings,” against the wishes of Mokdad’s bereaved family. At a CPAC panel hosted by AFDI/SIOA, Geller and Spencer’s pal James Lafferty expressed how “proud” he was that most attacks against mosques occur in the South. Geller and Spencer got media attention out of their hate ads comparing Muslims and Arabs to Savages though the attention was overwhelmingly negative.
Eric Allen Bell (aka. Eric Edborg) transformed from documenting hate against the Murfreesboro Mosque to actively participating in it, becoming in the process a pliant and subservient JihadWatch Zombie who regularly engages in the new found hobby of calling for the nuking of Mecca. He eventually decided to take, as he put it, a “sabbatical from my jihad against jihad,” after he, Spencer and Jamie Glazov essentially got roasted in a 3 on 1 debate against a Muslim apologist by the name of Nadir Ahmad.
Brigitte Gabriel spent part of 2012 comparing Muslims to Hitler. The Daily Show skewered the buffoonish Joe “Nuke ‘em” Kafuman who has been relegated to the extremities of irrelevance. Andrew Breitbart kicked the bucket but his “Big” blogs are still going strong.
The Strange phenomenon of well known Muslims being detained at the airport on suspicion of terrorism, such as Shahrukh Khan, Imran Khan and Mohammed “Mo” Farah by oblivious border guards continued. Kevin Forts, a US admirer of the terrorist Anders Breivik penned a letter to his hero who is now serving time in an IKEA furnished Norwegian
retreat prison after being declared sane.
2012 was also a year in which Islamophobic politicians lost big, most humorously Allen West was kicked to the curb by Floridians. Also losing were Adam Hasner, Joe Walsh, Charles Fuqua and Chip Cravaack, and while Barack Obama’s re-election is not going to change much in the long term it did stave off the possibility of a Mitt Romney presidency that would include the likes of “Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Walid Phares and others who are intimately tied with the Islamophobia movement.”
There were many manifestations of hope against hate as well as efforts for peace and reconciliation between communities. The year saw the story of a “synagogue in a mosque,” Sikhs rallying en masse against the EDL in Leicester, an Imam and a Pastor who used to lead opposing militias joining forces to teach and achieve peace in Nigeria, Pakistan’s deputy attorney general traveling to the Amritsar Golden Temple to clean the shoes of worshippers, Israelis sending Iranians messages of love and calling on their leaders not to go to war, the #MyJihad campaign to reclaim the concept of “Jihad” from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike, CriticalDragon spoke to us about his journey out of Islamophobic darkness and Coughli616 won the internets.
2012 was also a year that saw many instances of “what if they were Muslim?” A series that we created to point out the obvious fact that all the crimes that are uniquely attributed to “Islam and Muslims” are in fact also carried out by members of other faiths–sometimes uniquely.
Some quick samples: GOP lawmaker calls for bringing back public hangings for abortion providers, Rick Santorum expressed his disgust at the separation of Church and state believing that the Church should have a roll in the operation of government, witch-hunts, forced conversions, terrorism, iconoclasm and calling on Gays to be killed off–all from members of non-Muslim religious traditions.
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In conclusion, I must point out that this review article is far from comprehensive–I just barely scratched the surface of Islamophobia in 2012. The jailing of the EDL leadership, the floundering of the BFP, the proliferation of the “Innocence of Muslims” movie and so much more would require at least seven more paragraphs in themselves.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout out to Loonwatchers, who have been patient throughout this past year and stuck with us despite technical mishaps and a new comment system. It really is all of you who make this site special and worth posting articles and continuing documenting, exposing and repelling the anti-Muslim bigots.
Your tips, advice and debates are an important contribution to the fight against those who are ardent to create division and civilizational/cultural conflict. We promise in 2013 to also come through on some of the planned changes to make the site more navigable and for easy access to some of our lengthy series and rebuttals.