Reactionaries flaunt Islamophobic signs and wave American flags at an anti-mosque rally near the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2010 in New York City.
The Anti-Defamation League, part of the pro-Israel lobby, has allied publicly with this wave of Islamophobia, whose promoters explicitly advocate violence and even genocide. But even mainstream figures who defend some masjids and some Muslim rights on civil liberties grounds helped create a political and social climate that breeds Islamophobia.
After 9/11 the government and media launched a witch-hunt against Muslims and Arabs, encouraging individual violent attacks. Even before 9/11, demonization was used to justify support for Israel’s wars and U.S. efforts to control Arab and Iranian oil.
Since 9/11, as part of the bipartisan “war on terror,” tens of thousands of Muslim men were fingerprinted, questioned and registered. Hundreds were detained with no regard to their constitutional rights, often abused and tortured, in a campaign of preemptive prosecution mirroring the practices in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and overseas secret detention centers.Masjids have been subject to FBI and police surveillance, infiltration and intimidation.
We are told that Muslims must be presumed guilty of “terrorism” until proven innocent – then denied the chance to prove their innocence. The government and media demand hypocritically that “moderate” Muslims denounce and inform on so-called “extremists.”
The Obama administration claims to support the right of the Cordoba Initiative to build the lower Manhattan masjid/center but fuels Islamophobia with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a stepped-up campaign of extra-judicial assassinations..
These attacks occur for one fundamental reason: To intimidate those who would oppose Washington’s wars abroad and growing economic misery at home.The government demonizes those who oppose its wars and its support for Israeli apartheid and aggression. It seeks to prepare public sentiment for a US and/or Israeli attack on Iran.
Attacks on Muslims and Arabs mirror the labeling of war opponents as “supporters of terrorism” during US wars in Central America and Vietnam, and the persecution is carried out in the spirit of the round-ups of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Islamophobia also serves to split potential allies in the fight against the deepening economic crisis. The attacks parallel the persecution and terrorist-baiting of unionists and radicals during previous depressions, as well as of fighters for the freedom of Black, Latin@ and other peoples of color who suffered the worst impact of such crises.
The attacks on Muslims parallel the scapegoating of mostly Latin@ undocumented workers, whose labor is key to the economy but whose status is used to pit workers against each other.
This understanding of the roots of Islamophobia and the resulting attacks impels us to mobilize and speak out whenever there is an attack on any Muslim individual or institution and call on our allies in every social movement to do the same.
• End the attacks on masjids and Islamic community centers. Stop the government and media witch-hunt that sparks such attacks.
• End “preemptive” prosecutions and entrapment by government informants.
• Close Guantanamo, US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the CIA’s secret detention centers.
Free all Arab and Muslim political prisoners at home and abroad.
• End all attacks on immigrant communities, including racial and religious profiling, harassment, detentions, and deportations.
• Stop US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. End all US aid to Israel. No war or sanctions against Iran.
• Redirect the trillions of dollars from war to funds for jobs, education, healthcare, and humanitarian relief, at home and abroad.
Initial signers: Organizations:
Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
American Iranian Friendship Committee
Council on American-Islamic Relations–Connecticut (CAIR-CT)
Creative Nonviolent Resistance against Injustice (CNRI)
DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Justice and Peace in Palestine Alliance (JAPPA)
Labor For Palestine
NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia
New York City Labor Against the War
Palestine Rights Committee Albany
Palestine Solidarity Caucus of the United National Antiwar Conference
Women in Black Westchester
Women of a Certain Age
Individuals (organizational affiliations for identification purposes only):
Shamshad Ahmad, President, Masjid As-Salam, Albany, NY
Laurie Arbeiter, A.R.T. (Activist Response Team)
Tom Bias, President, Northwest New Jersey Peace Fellowship
Rick Congress, Gaza Freedom March
Women in Black, St. Louis, MO & St. Louis Free Gaza Movement
Carol Gay, NJ Labor Against War
Marty Goodman, Transport Workers Union Local 100
Stephen Gross, Texas State University
Stanley Heller, host of “The Struggle” TV News
Fadi Kanaan, JAPPA-Albany
Roberta Koffman, UJP Palestine Task Force -Boston
Jim Lafferty, Director, National Lawyers Guild-Los Angeles
Cecelia Lavan, OP, Women in Black Westchester
Nydia Leaf, New York, NY
David Letwin, Al Awda-NY
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine
Marilyn Levin, New England United
Joe Lombardo, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Jeff Mackler, Co-National Coordinator, National Assembly to End US Wars and Occupations
Laura Myerson, Cortlandt Manor, NY
Abu Nazem, Delmar, NY
Terry Phelan, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Joan Pleune, Granny Peace Brigade
Andy Thayer, Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism