Authoritative Muslim voices from all quarters are denouncing ISIS, as they have denounced al-Qaeda and terrorism in general for years-but the silence from the mainstream media and from professional Islamophobes is deafening.
Recently, over 100 leading Muslim scholars from every continent, including Australia, issued an open letter to Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and now self-proclaimed “Caliph” (supposed leader of the worldwide Muslim community), showing how ISIS’ ideology and actions stand in flagrant contradiction to traditional Islamic teachings and morality. Such a statement has special weight in the Muslim world, since scholars such as those who signed the letter are the highest authority in Islam.
Nonetheless, the mainstream media have taken little or no notice of this significant event. Nor have they taken much notice of the many other Muslim denunciations of the terrorist group, including a statement by the Saudi Arabia Muslim clerical council, an invitation by German Muslims to pray with them at their Friday prayers that no youth go to join ISIS (an action in which 2,000 mosques all across Germany joined), a call by British imams to join in prayer for humanitarian workers threatened by ISIS, and many other statements and actions by local, regional, and national Muslim leaders. (For a list of such statements, go here.)
This Muslim outcry is simply a continuation of a long-standing series of denunciations of all forms of terrorism by Muslim leaders and authorities since before 9/11. To find hundreds of such statements, one need only Google “fatwas against terrorism” or go here. (A fatwa is an authoritative legal ruling by Muslim scholars.)
Professional Islamophobes-those organized forces that stir up fear and hatred against Muslims and Islam-have nonetheless had a field day with ISIS’ brutality, aided and abetted by the silence of the mainstream capitalist media. Last month, notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller, founder and head of the absurdly named organization Stop Islamization of America, had ads posted on San Francisco buses claiming that all faithful Muslims were obligated to be violent. The ads were greeted with a vigorous outcry not only from Muslims but also from Jewish, Christian, and interfaith organizations and leaders, including the San Francisco Interfaith Council and the Jewish Community Relations Council which, despite sharp disagreement over Middle East issues, has cultivated relationships with local Muslims.
Such attacks are part of an concerted assault by right-wing forces against the Muslim community in the U.S., organized by a well-funded posse of Islamophobic groups and individuals. Their aim, as usual with such extreme rightist forces, is to sow intergroup division and hostility and to deflect the fears and anxiety whose ultimate source is the capitalist system itself onto a convenient scapegoat. A 2011 report by the Center for American Progress, Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America details the interconnections of these groups and their ties to other right-wing forces.
Among the funders of this Islamophobic network are seven foundations well known for their funding of right-wing causes: the Donors Capital Fund, the Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Newton D. Becker and Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund, and the Fairbrook Foundation. Other beneficiaries of these foundations include the American Enterprise Institute, a cheerleader for the leading sectors of corporate capital; the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, whose notion of “prosperity” is built on dismantling government regulation of business; the Sam Adams Alliance, which seeks “to raise awareness of free market principles and policy”; and the Heritage Foundation, a leading right-wing think tank.
These foundations support a group of self-proclaimed “experts” on the alleged threat of Islam who are also, not surprisingly, aligned with extreme right-wing Zionist forces. They include the aforementioned Geller, Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy, David Yerushalmi of the Society of Americans for National Existence, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. These individuals and their organizations pour out a stream of misinformation claiming that terrorism is inherent in mainstream Islam and that the American Muslim community is a threat to American values, culture and security. In reality, American Muslims are above the national average in education and income, and not even the Congressional Islamophobe Peter King, R-N.Y., was able to find in his provocative “investigations” of the American Muslim community any significant extremist or terrorist presence in U.S. mosques or other Muslim institutions.
The linkage between the right wing and the current campaign of divisive anti-Muslim propaganda confirms what progressives have long contended: that the right will use any tool to divide and confuse people and divert them from struggle against corporate power. Therefore, as the powerful reaction to Pamela Geller’s bus ads in San Francisco shows, stamping out Islamophobia has to be high on the agenda of the people’s movement.
Photo: ISIS fighters use captured U.S. military eqipment and guns. AP