"So what do you do for a living?" the activist asked me. He was an American Christian, an ordained minister and leader of an interfaith peace organization. I was attending a conference organized by his group.

"I produce Islamic videos and programs, particularly for children," I replied.

"Oh. Doesn't Hamas produce programs for children, too?" he asked.

I was stunned. This exchange occurred shortly before the Hamas victory in the recent Palestinian elections. What floored me though was that this man associated what I do for a living with a group considered terrorist by the American government. It is clear that the ugly tentacles of Islamophobia have penetrated places where Muslims have normally felt safe from it. An interfaith gathering is the last venue I'd expect these comments.

I was representing the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago as it's chair, and he knew that pretty well. It's a federation of more than 55 mosques and Islamic organizations serving 400,000 Muslims from the region.

The Danish cartoon affair - Europe's latent Islamophobia comes to life
The latest example of Islamophobia comes from Denmark and Europe, not the United States. By now, we've all seen and read about the protests against 12 deeply offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

What is critical to know is that it was not some random cartoonist drawing one cartoon and an editor who decided to publish it. Rather, a neo-con newspaper chose to commission artists to draw these images that depict the Prophet as a terrorist. These cartoons were not an ignorant mistake. The intent was to insult and inflame. The concept of respect and honor among Muslims is well-known. So is the potential risk of incitement, especially after knowing what happened when the Muslim world came to know about some American soldiers disrespecting the Quran last year.

The Danish embassy in Lebanon has been torched, the country's flags burned, death threats have been issued and some protesters have been killed as a result of police firings.

But well before these dramatic images that must have made editors salivate for their sensational qualities made the news, Muslims in the Muslim world and abroad launched peaceful, lawful protests for four months against the cartoons that would have made Martin Luther King Jr. proud.

Danish Muslims wrote letters of protest. They were ignored. Eleven Muslim ambassadors in Denmark asked to meet with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He refused to do so. A grassroots boycott of Danish products was launched in the Middle East. That got some attention, but not much until Danish businesses realized how much of their $1 billion business in the region was at stake.

The cartoons were printed in September 2005. In September, October, November, December and almost all of January, the Muslim opposition to the cartoons was characterized by peaceful demonstrations of love for the Prophet and restrained protests of how he was being denigrated.

Arrogant Response to Peaceful Protests
When newspapers in Norway, Germany and France, in their Islamophobic frenzy, decided to republish the cartoons in the name of "freedom of expression," the scale of anger and protest widened. What started off as peaceful opposition spiraled out of control.

Now, the situation was out of the hands of Muslims who had made serious attempts to resolve the issue peacefully. They had tried their utmost, but to no avail. From this point onwards, all kinds of people, including those with little knowledge of Islamic rules that forbid harm to foreign emissaries in Muslim lands, had upped the ante. The torching of embassies is wrong. So is stepping on and burning the symbols of Danish pride, their flag. It is Haram and a sin in Islam.

Unfortunately, some Iranian newspapers have commissioned the drawing of anti-Semitic cartoons in protest. This is a disgusting form of retaliation that deserves absolute condemnation. It will neither help fight Islamophobia, nor elicit any understanding about why Muslims are upset about the Danish cartoons. The conflic has hit a new low with this move.

But the world media, always in search of dramatic images of death and destruction, lapped up the anger and violence with glee. There was little coverage of the peaceful response of the Muslim community to these cartoons in the initial days after their publication. There were no calls for death, there was no fire involved or images of screaming bearded and Hijabed Muslims. Just peaceful bearded and Hijabed Muslims. Yawn. The media was bored.

When it comes to Muslims, everything goes
Would the media outlet which commissioned and printed these cartoons, as well as those which reprinted them, call for artists to develop grotesque anti-Semitic caricatures to prove that they have the freedom to do so? Of course not. The French even have laws to punish anti-Semitic "speech" and "writings."

The current cartoon affair is not about freedom of expression, it's about Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is real
Islamophobia, or the fear and hatred of all things relating to Islam and Muslims, has become an acceptable form of racism. A sympathetic Jewish lawyer who was representing a Palestinian client in Chicago pre-9/11 said something telling to me in this regard: "Muslims are the new N…ers of America. If you will not fight for yourself, no one will."
He's right. But Muslim complaints about Islamophobia continue to be dismissed. More than one fourth of all American Muslims surveyed by more than one public opinion organization stated that they have personally experienced Islamophobia or know someone who has. Over 200,000 American Muslims have been subjected to some kind of law enforcement activity since 9/11. At least 15,000 Muslims have been detained or arrested since that tragedy. Over 16,000 were either deported or are in the process of deportation . The Council on American-Islamic Relations annually issues reports about the state of Muslim civil rights in the United States. Harrowing tales of anti-Muslim discrimination on the job, at schools, stores, restaurants and on the streets fill these publications. The case of Capt. James Yee is a disturbing example of how American Muslims even in positions of authority and respect must endure Islamophobia publicly at the hands of our own government.

It is due to Islamophobia fanned by government policies and a media frenzy that a majority of Americans continue to hold negative opinions of Islam and Muslims. And a few thousand bin Laden terrorists contribute to authenticate this negative image. Forty-four percent of Americans queried in a Cornell national poll favor curtailing some liberties for Muslim Americans.
Over half of schoolchildren in the Australian city of Victoria view Muslims as terrorists, and two out of five agree that Muslims "are unclean", a survey has revealed.

Islamophobia is older than 9/11 and is based on ongoing ignorance
The fear and hatred of all things Islamic can be traced much farther back than 9/11. Edward Said's landmark book "Orientalism" outlined how European colonial masters viewed their Muslim subjects with disdain and disgust. This attitude continues to characterize the discipline today. That view of Muslims as bloodthirsty, misogynist and violent savages persists. It is furthered by Bernard Lewis, America's top Orientalist, and his neoconservative students, a number of whom are the architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the 1980s, funding was cut throughout the United States for programs that attempted to understand other peoples and nations. With the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991 and the establishment of America as the world's sole superpower, a fair amount of arrogance towards the rest of the world pervaded America's dealings with other countries and continues to do so.
The barring of Yusuf Islam in 2004 and Tariq Ramadan in 2005 from the United States are examples of how we are not only closing our borders to Islam but opening them to Islamophobia. Even worse, we are closing our minds. As Diana Eck, President of the American Academy of Religion wrote in the Boston Globe on February 2, 2006 about the Ramadan case, "Denying us face-to-face access to scholars and theologians who contribute to critical reflection on the religious currents of our world is an intolerable impoverishment of the academic enterprise." The Academy is currently suing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for barring Ramadan entry into the US.

Islamophobia harms all of us
In my four interfaith interactions in the last two months, I have met a whole lot of very nice people. But I was surprised to find at almost each event I attended, one or two Islamophobic people who seemed to have a high dose of Fox News in their system. I listened to them and prayed for them instead of responding to them.

Like racism and anti-Semitism, Islamophobia hurts all of us. In America, it is eroding our civil liberties. In Europe, it is further isolating minority communities and inflaming latent xenophobia. It is perpetuating the neocon wish for a "clash of civilizations" at a time when no country in the world, Muslim or not, can afford it politically, economically or otherwise. Just ask the Danish dairy industry how Islamophobia has hurt its business.
Islamophobia is responsible for torture. Islamophobia is responsible for the grave misunderstandings that only serve to perpetuate hatred and demonization.

Perhaps we need to learn from Canada, where hate speech is banned despite the guarantee of free speech in the country's constitution.

Islamophobia is today's accepted form of racism. It will require Muslims to fight hard against it. Muslims are neither solely responsible for its creation, nor will they be able to fight it on their own. It is a collective responsibility for all bridge-builders of the world.

Let us today take a stand to end all kinds of fear and hatred of "the other."

I read this article on the following webstie: http://soundvision.com/info/racism/islamophobia.asp , and I liked to share it with you.
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Okay, I know I'm being nit-picky here, but "Islamophobia" is not racism. Muslims aren't a race, and so being prejudiced against them does not make one a racist. In fact, most of the people the author of this article cites as having prejudices against Muslims are of the same race as the majority of Muslims. Anyway, now to address the more important parts of the article...


The Danish cartoon affair - Europe's latent Islamophobia comes to life
The latest example of Islamophobia comes from Denmark and Europe, not the United States. By now, we've all seen and read about the protests against 12 deeply offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

What is critical to know is that it was not some random cartoonist drawing one cartoon and an editor who decided to publish it. Rather, a neo-con newspaper chose to commission artists to draw these images that depict the Prophet as a terrorist. These cartoons were not an ignorant mistake. The intent was to insult and inflame. The concept of respect and honor among Muslims is well-known. So is the potential risk of incitement, especially after knowing what happened when the Muslim world came to know about some American soldiers disrespecting the Quran last year.

I resent the author's assertion that the Danish cartoons are examples of Islamophobia. He needs to realize that criticizing something is not the same thing as insulting it. People should be able to voice unflattering opinions about Islam without fearing violent retribution or being called prejudiced. I understand why Muslims would find the Danish cartoons offensive, but that doesn't mean that what was said or implied in those cartoons is without merit. In my opinion, Muslims like this man need to stop asking why the cartoons were published, and instead ask where the view of Islam reflected in those cartoons comes from. The answer isn't as simple as labeling them "racists".

If Islamphobia is indeed real and has permeated Western society to a very large degree, we need to look for reasons why. While true Islamophobia should not be tolerated, people must also realize that hostile feelings towards Muslims are the result of different factors than most other prejudices. Most prejudices against race, ethnicity, or religion are the result of ignorance and/or elitism. For instance, whites in America were prejudiced against blacks largely because they enjoyed having greater status than a visible minority (this was especially true of poor whites), and feelings of racial superiority that resulted from ignorance and limited interaction. While there is clearly a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding between Western and Islamic peoples, much of the fear that Westerners may have of Muslims are the result of very real actions and events. Many people in the West fear Muslims, or at least a sizeable minority of Muslims, because of the ties they make between their religion and violence. Stereotypes of terrorists and violent extremists are not just the result of ignorance, but also of observation. While many Westerners need to do a better job of keeping things in perspective, their fears are not irrational.


But well before these dramatic images that must have made editors salivate for their sensational qualities made the news, Muslims in the Muslim world and abroad launched peaceful, lawful protests for four months against the cartoons that would have made Martin Luther King Jr. proud.

Danish Muslims wrote letters of protest. They were ignored. Eleven Muslim ambassadors in Denmark asked to meet with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He refused to do so. A grassroots boycott of Danish products was launched in the Middle East. That got some attention, but not much until Danish businesses realized how much of their $1 billion business in the region was at stake.

The cartoons were printed in September 2005. In September, October, November, December and almost all of January, the Muslim opposition to the cartoons was characterized by peaceful demonstrations of love for the Prophet and restrained protests of how he was being denigrated.

Arrogant Response to Peaceful Protests
When newspapers in Norway, Germany and France, in their Islamophobic frenzy, decided to republish the cartoons in the name of "freedom of expression," the scale of anger and protest widened. What started off as peaceful opposition spiraled out of control.

Now, the situation was out of the hands of Muslims who had made serious attempts to resolve the issue peacefully. They had tried their utmost, but to no avail. From this point onwards, all kinds of people, including those with little knowledge of Islamic rules that forbid harm to foreign emissaries in Muslim lands, had upped the ante. The torching of embassies is wrong. So is stepping on and burning the symbols of Danish pride, their flag. It is Haram and a sin in Islam.

This outline of events serves only to assuage Muslim guilt regarding the violent reaction to the cartoons. With all his talk of honor and respect, the author should realize that he is disrespecting Martin Luther King, Jr. by attempting to draw a parallel between his actions and those of Muslims protesters. King advocated non-violent resistance, and while that may have been the initial stance of Muslims, they resorted to violence relatively quickly. Martin Luther King and his followers were met with violence over the course of years, and firmly refused to react any way but peacefully. In contrast, the Muslim protesters are the only ones who have resorted to violence in this controversy. Furthermore, one cannot forget that Muslims are protesting against what they perceive as an insult; King was protesting decades of segregation, violence, and active discrimination. There really is no comparison, and it is clear that the author only evokes King's name in further efforts to shift the blame for the violence from Muslims to Westerners. It really doesn't matter if Muslims were unable to get the response they wanted peacefully. That doesn't even begin to excuse their ultimately violent reaction.

In a further effort to absolve Muslims of any meaningful blame, the author never even considers that any actions taken on the part of Westerners were anything but Islamophobic. He is being just as prejudiced as those he condemns. Why is it impossible to consider that those European newspapers who reprinted the cartoons were actually doing it in the name of freedom? You don't have to agree with their actions, but it is unfair to mischaracterize their intent. There is never any consideration on his part that maybe Muslims (especially those living in Western countries) are being too sensitive, and that the reason their peaceful protests got little response was because they warranted little response. Most everyone has a voice in Western societies, but if no one wants to hear what you have to say, that doesn't mean that it's their fault if you choose to then make yourself heard through violent means.


But the world media, always in search of dramatic images of death and destruction, lapped up the anger and violence with glee. There was little coverage of the peaceful response of the Muslim community to these cartoons in the initial days after their publication. There were no calls for death, there was no fire involved or images of screaming bearded and Hijabed Muslims. Just peaceful bearded and Hijabed Muslims. Yawn. The media was bored.

When it comes to Muslims, everything goes
Would the media outlet which commissioned and printed these cartoons, as well as those which reprinted them, call for artists to develop grotesque anti-Semitic caricatures to prove that they have the freedom to do so? Of course not. The French even have laws to punish anti-Semitic "speech" and "writings."

The current cartoon affair is not about freedom of expression, it's about Islamophobia.

Again, the author never even considers that the cartoons were anything but Islamophobic, and implies that Western inaction essentially forced Muslims to react violently. His points about anti-Semitism (a misnomer considering how many Muslims are Semitic) are made with the assumption that the only intent of the cartoons was to maliciously attack and belittle Islam. Most Westerners though, would look at those cartoons as an attempt to say somthing valid about Islam in a humorous manner. It seems clear to me that the cartoons were not printed with the intention of simply offending Muslims and denouncing their religion and prophet. It was known that some Muslims may be offended, but seeing as the cartoons were largely a commentary on extreme Muslim sensitivies and intended for a Western audience, it was not irresponsible to print them. Westerners in Western lands should not be bound by Islamic sensibilities.
It is due to Islamophobia fanned by government policies and a media frenzy that a majority of Americans continue to hold negative opinions of Islam and Muslims. And a few thousand bin Laden terrorists contribute to authenticate this negative image. Forty-four percent of Americans queried in a Cornell national poll favor curtailing some liberties for Muslim Americans.
True Islamophobia is reprehensible. It's a terrible tragedy that so many peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are lumped together with the violent extremists. Still, there's a double standard here. The author wants to hold Western media accountable for inciting Muslim violence by printing those cartoons, and yet he does not seek to blame violent Muslims for inciting fear and distrust in Western societies. Instead, he claims that Western media and governments distort perceptions of Muslims by focusing on Islamic violence. While it is true that Western media tend to give a lot of attention to violent events (and not just Islamic ones), that doesn't excuse the Muslims who actually commit the violence. The Western media is just reporting the news, it's the Muslim extremists who actually make it.
Perhaps we need to learn from Canada, where hate speech is banned despite the guarantee of free speech in the country's constitution.
Since the author seems to be an American Muslim and I am also an American, I find this point perhaps the most troubling. To put such a limit on freedom of speech seems fundamentally un-American. I'm not a proponent of hate speech, but outlawing an entire subject or point-of-view sets a dangerous precedent. For instance, how do you define hate speech? My feeling is that the majority of Americans would not consider the Danish cartoon hateful, but clearly the author would. Whose opinion is more important then?
Islamophobia is today's accepted form of racism. It will require Muslims to fight hard against it. Muslims are neither solely responsible for its creation, nor will they be able to fight it on their own. It is a collective responsibility for all bridge-builders of the world.
There are important questions that need to be answered before the author's opinion can be taken more seriously. Namely, what are examples of true Islamophobia? And, from where do these feelings stem? It seems to me that the author is attempting to put the onus for answering these questions mostly on non-Muslims. I think it should first be the other way around. Muslims need to ask themselves what are examples of true Islamophobia and what are valid criticims, as well as who is responsible for the association of Islam with violence.

I wonder how Muslims storming the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, fits in to all of this. America had nothing to do with the cartoons. This is unfocused, aimless rage against all things "western," and it is without proper justification.
Muslims protesting in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri attacked Christians and burned 15 churches in a three-hour rampage that killed at least 15 people. Some 30 other people have died during protests over the cartoons that erupted about three weeks ago (MSNBC).
This makes sense to anybody?

Lazarus
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FirasThe barring of Yusuf Islam in 2004 and Tariq Ramadan in 2005 from the United States are examples of how we are not only closing our borders to Islam but opening them to Islamophobia. Even worse, we are closing our minds. As Diana Eck, President of the American Academy of Religion wrote in the Boston Globe on February 2, 2006 about the Ramadan case, "Denying us face-to-face access to scholars and theologians who contribute to critical reflection on the religious currents of our world is an intolerable impoverishment of the academic enterprise." The Academy is currently suing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for barring Ramadan entry into the US.

Oh yes, Mister Tariq Ramadan... The man who says that "it's ok to abide by the constitution as long as it doesn't go against Islam..." with of course the implicit notion that he'd be the sole judge on this... The man who, when asked about the lapidation of adulterous women, talks about putting a moratorium on it... as in "let's discuss about it for a while before we make our final decision, cause we're not sure yet" or what ???
See Firas, I'm not sure denying him the right to a public forum in the US is the best example of islamophobia here...
Excuse me but I have to say this...

You said:

"It was known that some Muslims may be offended, but seeing as the cartoons were largely a commentary on extreme Muslim sensitivies and intended for a Western audience, it was not irresponsible to print them. Westerners in Western lands should not be bound by Islamic sensibilities."

Although the author did make some contradicting remarks(excuse us human...) You on the other hand blantantly said that it's ok to mock on others' idol, beloved ones,principles,dignity as long as its not intented for them but for another group??? (FYI: Our beloved Prophet(s.a.w) is all of that and more that I'd just listed )

What kind of justification is this ???

Let me ask you some personal question...

Is it ok for someone mock at your Dad as long as it's not intended for you???

Is it ok for someone to mock at you religion as long as it's not intended for you??

Is it ok for someone to mock at YOU as long as it's not intended for you??

Please consider because we are here not to win an argument but to resolve a social problem...
Although the author did make some contradicting remarks(excuse us human...) You on the other hand blantantly said that it's ok to mock on others' idol, beloved ones,principles,dignity as long as its not intented for them but for another group??? (FYI: Our beloved Prophet(s.a.w) is all of that and more that I'd just listed )

What kind of justification is this ???

First of all, you've misinterpreted the meaning of my statement. I did not say that it was "ok" to mock other people's beliefs. My point could be more simply stated as the fact that someone may be offended by what you say, does not mean you do not have the right to say it. Definitions of what constitutes offensive material differ from region to region, culture to culture, religion to religion, and person to person. Just because many Muslims were offended by those cartoons, that does not mean that the people behind them did not have something valid to say.

I made a point of mentioning the intended audience, not because that should necessarily determine whether or not Muslims find the cartoons offensive, but rather because it's something to be considered when determining if the cartoons were intended to be offensive, at least to the degree in which most Muslims appear to feel they were. Reading my comment in the context of the paragraph in which it was written should make that clear. I suggested that the fact that cartoons were not inteded for a Muslim audience suggests that the primary goal of the authors and printers was to criticize an aspect of Islam they did not agree with in a humorous manner. If their sole intent was to enrage Muslims, they could have printed must more offensive material, with no message behind it, and distributed it directly to the Islamic media.


Let me ask you some personal question...

Is it ok for someone mock at your Dad as long as it's not intended for you???

Is it ok for someone to mock at you religion as long as it's not intended for you??

Is it ok for someone to mock at YOU as long as it's not intended for you??

Please consider because we are here not to win an argument but to resolve a social problem...

Look, I'm not saying that living a free society does not mean that one can't or shouldn't be offended. If Muslims feel offended by those Danish cartoons, then that's their right as it is also their right to voice disapproval and to seek out any legal means of protesting against whoever they feel is responsible. However, resorting to violence and demanding limits to fundamental freedoms is taking it too far.

To answer your question, I would be upset if someone were to mock my father (depending on the circumstances of course, as I enjoy teasing my old man, myself). Assuming I were a strict adherent to a religion, I would probably be upset by that too, as I would also be were someone maliciously making fun of me. Despite my displeasure in all those situations, I would never question the right of the person behind those attacks to make them. As long as it's not slanderous, a person has a right to say whatever they want about me, just as I do about them. I can disapprove. I can think their comments are not "ok". If I felt strongly enough, I would seek legal means to prevent them from doing do, but I would never seek violent retribution.

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so our friends here are trying to say that Islamaphobia is ok and consider it sensible?

as far as i noticed here ppl know well muslims' bad actions while ignoring theirs

where has gone those who call for the death of all msulims or others who are showing it as a sensible thing using an agenda that is so similar to the Nazi's
Either you believe in real freedom of speech...or you only believe in in when it suits you.

You can't FORCE people to not be scared of Muslims and Islam. You have to convince them, with reason and facts, that Islam itself has nothing to do with politics.
sure we can't force ppl not to be scared of muslims as long as this is their problem, if u want to hate an X nation u can find a list of reasons to hate them so it's your problem not theirs and here there is media that teaches those people to hate, media that target evey bad action of this group and don't show any of their good ones, imagine that i only show the criminals of this X nation to mine what would they think about them? sure they'll have a phobia

btw Freedom is not absolute, your freedom ends when the others' starts

can u clarify when we believe in it when it suits us?
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