The consequences of Islamophobia, in the U.S. and abroad

The July 2011 massacre in Norway was a tragic signal of a metastasizing social cancer — Islamophobia. The Norwegian assassin, Anders Behring Breivik’s, 1500-page manifesto confirmed the dangerous consequences of hate speech that has been spread by American and European xenophobes and websites that are quoted hundreds of times in his fear-filled tract.

Because the small number of extremists responsible for 9/11 and terrorist attacks in Europe and the Muslim world legitimated their acts in the name of Islam, we have seen an exponential increase in the past ten years of hostility and intolerance towards fellow Muslim citizens. This hatred threatens the democratic fabric of American and European societies and impacts not only the safety and civil liberties of Muslims but also, as the attacks in Norway demonstrate, the safety of all citizens.

The broad spectrum of preachers of hate that include politicians, media commentators, Christian Zionist ministers, and biased media and internet sites exploit legitimate concerns about domestic security and engage in a fear-mongering that conflates Islam and the majority of Muslims with a small but deadly minority of militants. The Gallup World Poll revealed that 57% of Americans when asked what they admired about Islam said “nothing” or “I don’t know.” So. too, a Washington Post poll revealed that a shocking 49% of Americans view Islam unfavorably.

John Esposito at CPOST, 3 September 2011