Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Islamphobia in 2016- 2018

2018 update: John Bolton, Pres. Trump's new national security adviser, chaired an anti Muslim thinktank that spewed propaganda in 2016 that was amplified by the Russians interfering in the 2016 election. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/john-bolton-chaired-anti-muslim-think-tank-n868171
The Muslim travel ban attempted by Donald Trump in the 2016 election and then via executive orders will be argued in the US Supreme Court: https://www.yahoo.com/news/travel-ban-case-justices-first-dive-trump-policy-044621903--politics.html

Some new information re the Sharia law scare: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/04/exclusive-robert-mercer-backed-a-secretive-group-that-worked-with-facebook-google-to-target-anti-muslim-ads-at-swing-voters/

The third version of Donald Trump's Muslim ban has been ruled unconstitutional by two lower court federal judges(Hawaii and Maryland). The judges ruled it was too similar to the ones before.Judges are ruling the orders run afoul of the US Constitution because it was caused by animus against one religion, Islam. The Supreme Court considering the first two ban versions delayed oral arguments pending lower court rulings on the new version that added a few non Muslim countries to the ban list of countries. The third version ban was in effect allowed to go into effect, but the lower courts' ruling on the third put that one on hold, as well.

The root of the Muslim ban goes back to the 2016 campaign and it reflected fear of anything Muslim and Islam that has been brewing among a segment of our population . Fear of terrorism is one factor. But since at least 2004 a wave of fear spread across the South that Islam's religious Sharia law would soon be coming to their state.. That has been one element feeding that blanket hatred of anything Muslim and a desire to keep their followers out of the US. Fear of Sharia is a form of  Islamphobia that cropped up again in Grand County with a controversial speaker recently at Constitution Week in Grand Lake. as reported in the Sky Hi News (http://www.skyhinews.com/news/controversial-speaker-during-constitution-week-talks-islam-sharia-law/) The story resulted in a heated exchange of letters to the editor, attacking and defending the point of view expressed at the event.

Those raging against Islam and Muslims often  promote  fear that Sharia law will become the law of the US, or they ask it  in terms, "do you want your neighbor to practice Sharia law and be able to beat their wives ".
Practically speaking  we are in no danger of having Sharia law  imposed on Americans.  American  Muslims have little  political clout since adult Muslims comprise  2% of our population. 58% of those are immigrants. 42% are US born.

There is also a constitutional angle to the Sharia law issue  Thanks to our Constitution, we cannot establish any state religion."  In 1791, the First Amendment was adopted. The "Establishment Clause" forbade Congress (and later, the states) from passing laws which adopt a state religion or to favor one religion over others. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court explained:
The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another "... That decision works two ways: Sharia laws clearly cannot be established as the law of our land and  state laws attempting to ban Sharia law have been ruled by courts as  unconstitutional because they harm Muslims or are redundant.

 Banning Sharia law has been a hot topic in legal and political circles, and often fueled by fear of Muslims. Anti Muslim sentiment erupted in the 2016 election in the form of Trump's Muslim ban. Its chief anti-Muslim fear and cheer leader was Mike Flynn, the general who briefly served as Pres. Trump;s national security advisor, but was fired for not being truthful about conversations with Russians. It later was learned that he was working for the Turkish government, ironically a Muslim country.

Ignorance of the practice of Islam fuels much of the anti Muslim hysteria.. Sharia law is interpreted and applied  many different  ways in many different countries. Physical   spousal abuse  is not condoned by all Muslims and clerics, and Islamic scholars, either.  The practice of Islam varies from country to country and cultural and customs are as much an influence as the interpretation of their  theology.  Attitudes toward Sharia law as official law  also vary widely per a PEW research poll. Even in the Middle East, less than 30% of Muslims in Lebanon support Sharia law. In Bosnia, 15% support Sharia law; Turkey 12%. Highest support of Sharia law outside the Arabian peninsula   is in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and to lesser extent in some Southeast Asian and  African countries..

The Sky Hi News reported  that the speaker felt confident she could be  safely outspoken against Islam  because there were no Muslims in Grand County. She feared for her life because she  was  working  undercover  for a Christian ministry. I wonder how many in Grand County have ever met a Muslim. Such one sided, extreme  opinions can easily  find  fertile ground to grow here.

I have spent a good part of my life interfacing with Bosnian Muslims beginning with  my travels in their region with them in the late 1950's, influencing  my academic studies and a lifetime fascination with the history and impact of Christian/Muslim interface. What I have learned over the years  is that those who practice Islam are  diverse in their application of their theology. 

The danger of a blanket indictments of all Muslims based on  experience with immigrants limited to those from more extreme traditions  is that it feeds divisive  bigotry . It makes us look like hypocrites who do not practice what we preach  about democracy nor do we understand the concepts  of freedom of religion and anti discrimination  protected by our Constitution. It weakens our ability to get along with a major part of the rest of the world and our own Muslim neighbors.  

Our Islamphobia makes us vulnerable to being duped by adversaries such as Russia. .As we have learned through news reports and Congressional hearing testimony ,  Russians saw  an opportunity to weaken  US world influence, sow internal dissent and hatred, and interfere in our elections by  hyping  anti- Muslim hysteria that supported Donald Trump's anti Muslim oratory. One tool the Russians used was social media to organize a Muslim hate rally in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2016. A Russian originated Facebook site promoted an anti Muslim rally in Houston, last year, as well, posing as a Texas organization.

For more on the subject, visit www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com and search Sharia law.

The PEW poll can be found at  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/09/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/









Everson v Board of Education explanation source: Wikipedia Search Sharia Law in America for more details about States' attempt to ban Sharia law.

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