Hatred of Islam became a noticeable part of the Western political establishment at the end of last century, when there was a significant increase in political and economic activity among Muslim states, as well as in their role in providing energy security to Europe and North America. Muslim countries received a significant impulse from the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and since 2010 revolutionary activity has become more acute in many states, resulting in the Arab Spring.
Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a meeting with the country’s leadership and ambassadors from Muslim countries on 31 August 2011, characterized the Islamic political awakening: “Today Muslim society is experiencing important events… the Islamic awakening and experience, which is now being gained by some Muslim countries, has led their people to decide their own destiny.This is a very important and valuable historical development. The events that are taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and some other countries demonstrate the active participation of their population in a political struggle. The people of these countries themselves are trying to control their own destiny, and that is among the most important events of our time. Such processes can permanently define the nature of Muslim society and the entire Middle East region.”
In the ruling political circles in the West, primarily the United States, these processes have invoked hostility, resulting in a growing hatred of Islam, which has relatively quickly escalated into Islamophobia. From the first days of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the United States and its western allies, in order to establish control over the Muslim movement and combat its influence in the Middle East and other regions of the world, began a large-scale effort in the form of information warfare, to create among westerners distorted views of political Islam. The “black PR” was conducted against Iran, under which the country was accused of belonging to an “axis of evil” and of supporting global terrorism. Iran was declared to be the greatest threat to global stability, and so Iranophobia was born.
In order to counter the growth of political consciousness in Muslim countries and their desire to live independently from Washington’s orders, the United States initiated a series of internal conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, militarily intervened in Muslim countries, and intensified strife between Shiites and Sunnis. On the previously trodden path of the creation and use of the terrorist organization “Al-Qaeda” in the fight against political opponents in Afghanistan, Washington, with the complicity of the Gulf monarchies, began to establish new extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Middle East, to use them in the fight against Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Along with this, it systemically provided financial, political, and military support to the so-called “moderate opposition”, which, as subsequent events showed, was no more than a bunch of radical militants and terrorists.
In 1997 the British Research Centre Runnymede Trust, dealing with the research problems of discrimination and intolerance in the UK, described Islamophobia as fear and hatred of Islam. And, consequently, of all Muslims.
A noticeable surge of Islamophobia in the United States occurred in the wake of the White House’s expanded counter-terrorism activities following September 11, 2001, and the adoption by the US Congress of the Patriot Act, which provided security services and law enforcement agencies in the US with essentially unlimited powers and freedom to investigate terrorist activities and to organize the almost total surveillance of Muslims.
The America’s military activity in Afghanistan and Iraq has also contributed to the subsequent marked increase in anti-Islamic sentiment in the US, as well as the “cartoon scandal” that shook the whole world, the unpunished public burning of the Quran by an American pastor from Florida, Terry Johnson, and a number of other adverse events that began to occur in succession in the USA. Gallup Polls have repeatedly shown that in the opinion of more than half of the US population, including employees of government institutions and law enforcement agencies, of all religious groups, Muslims are the most discriminated against.
US media have repeatedly published material about the fostering of Islamophobia, including in American counter-terrorism law enforcement training.
In order to improve security in the country, American authorities have increased the burden on the entire chain of national law enforcement agencies, including state police departments, sheriff’s offices and the National Guard. To implement this task, particular emphasis was placed on personnel issues, as a result in recent years in the US law enforcement agencies have employed a large number of persons with a low level of general education and special training. To improve the level of training and IQ of employees, lectures and seminars were organised with the participation of representatives from private business, which, as a rule, have been previously linked to the Ministry of Defence, intelligence agencies, or US law enforcement agencies, but their career was cut short because of their own extremist tendencies. In the process of this “training course” newly minted teachers instil in the audience the idea that “the majority of American Muslims are trying to penetrate the US power structure and establish Islamic law”. Ramon Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant, and later an investigator at the Los Angeles Police Department, was especially successful in this regard. As an employee of a private consulting security company, he began travelling around the country, lecturing in the states of Alabama, Colorado, Vermont, California, Texas, Missouri, et al., with the main message that “Muslims want to make the US an Islamic state and hoist the Islamic flag over the White House…”
Another characteristic Islamophobe was the converted in the mid-1990s to the Christian faith former Palestinian terrorist Walid Shoebat, who in his speeches began to call on the US government “to monitor all Muslims, especially students and imams of local mosques and, if possible, to wire tap these individuals to be in the know.”
Confirmation of the presence of Islamophobes in the circles of former senior officials can be seen in the publication in the US of the book “Shariah: The Threat to America”, whose authors included former CIA Director Robert James Woolsey. This book in particular was full of warnings that the Islamists are implementing “jihad by stealth” in the US, the signs of which are the radicalisation of many American mosques, the transformation of a significant part of the Muslim human rights organizations into an official “umbrella” for jihadists, and the strengthening of the Sharia Muslim diaspora in the United States. This book was prepared for publication in 1988 by a non-profit non-governmental organization “Centre for Security Policy (CSP)”, whose experts, according to its director, “neoconservative” Frank Gaffney, actively collaborate with law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Manifestations of Islamophobia in the US are constantly condemned by various local non-governmental organizations and human rights activists, in particular, a Washington-based non-profit Muslim network organization “Council on American-Islamic Relations” (CAIR). Its head Nihad Awad sent a letter to the US Attorney General, demanding that Islamophobes be denied entry into national law enforcement agencies. “Using incompetent individuals as lecturers will inevitably lead to the fact that the activities of US law enforcement agencies will be based on misinformation, and not on issues in the area of US national security.”
Certainly, the need for the international community to combat terrorism and religious extremism is indisputable. However, sometimes the incompetent policies of the White House and the artificial injection of Islamophobia, the clash of religious movements in Islam does not serve the world’s mutual understanding or promote general security.
Under these conditions, there is a very clear negative reaction from the Muslim American and world community regarding the White House’s domestic and foreign policy, which is using every opportunity, including the religious factor, in order to achieve domination.
But are the Washington strategists whose actions only reinforce the general alienation of “American democracy” on the right track?
Vladimir Odintsov is a political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.