Image from: http://thelondonpost.net/the-changing-face-of-britain-islamophobia/
The resurgence of anti-Muslim violence in the past several weeks has been brutal. As Trump calls for shutting the borders to all Muslims, vigilantes in the U.S. and Europe have unleashed a storm of beatings, verbal assaults, arson, death threats, and attacks on mosques, people on the street, and now on the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
While this violence and rhetoric is shocking, Trump’s incitements are only the most overt tip of the iceberg. He is only promoting an unusually honest expression of the deep Islamophobia built into the heart of the U.S. and its empire. It is a key tool of white supremacy, used to justify military intervention, Israeli apartheid, the sealing of borders, mass surveillance and militarized policing. Nor is brand of politics exclusive to the far Right. As Zein El-Amine writes:
I fear Hillary’s rise to power in the next election more than I fear all the vitriol that is in the air at the moment. Clinton would be the one that is most effective and most stealth in empowering wall street and in attacking and killing Muslims around the world. Her record of couched racism (as opposed to the open racism of Trump) against Arabs and especially Palestinians is disturbingly extensive. She is chomping at the bit to destroy whatever good will we built with Iran and to fuel (literally) the genocidal Israeli project.
Those of us who are not Muslim must do everything in our power to stand in the way of violence and hate, and support Muslim and Arab communities and their organizing efforts. We need to seize this moment, where anti-Muslim hate is so visible and aggressive, is to actively make the connections between the personal attacks on Muslims in this country, and US-led wars against Muslim and Arab countries. We must make the connections between the militarization of U.S. borders, surveillance, security and incarceration, and U.S. support for the same in Palestine. We must hold politicians accountable not only for fanning the flames of hatred at home, but for the terrible violence U.S. militarism does to Muslims around the world. We must pull Islamophobia from the heart of this country and defang the institutions that hype the hate and profit from these wars.
We close with this piece by Sofia Ali-Khan, who is an American Muslim and a public interest lawyer who has been engaged in social justice work for for twenty years. She is an advisory board member for CAIR-Philadelphia.
On Behalf of Catalyst Project
Dear Non-Muslim Allies,
I am writing to you because it has gotten just that bad. I have found myself telling too many people about the advice given to me years ago by the late composer Herbert Brun, a German Jew who fled Germany at the age of 15: “be sure that your passport is in order.” It’s not enough to laugh at Donald Trump anymore. The rhetoric about Muslims has gotten so nasty, and is everywhere, on every channel, every newsfeed. It is clearly fueling daily events of targeted violence, vandalism, vigilante harassment, discrimination. I want you to know that it has gotten bad enough that my family and I talk about what to keep on hand if we need to leave quickly, and where we should go, maybe if the election goes the wrong way, or if folks get stirred up enough to be dangerous before the election. When things seem less scary, we talk about a five or a ten year plan to go somewhere where cops don’t carry guns and hate speech isn’t allowed on network television. And if you don’t already know this about me, I want you to know that I was born in this country. I have lived my whole life in this country. I have spent my entire adult life working to help the poor, the disabled and the dispossessed access the legal system in this country. And I want you to know that I am devoutly and proudly Muslim.
I am writing this in response to a non Muslim friend’s question about what she can do. Because there is much that can be done in solidarity:
If you see a Muslim or someone who might be identified as Muslim being harassed, stop, say something, intervene, call for help.
If you ride public transportation, sit next to the hijabi woman and say asalam ‘alaykum (That means ‘peace to you.’). Don’t worry about mispronouncing it; she won’t care. Just say “peace” if you like. She’ll smile; smile back. If you feel like it, start a conversation. If you don’t, sit there and make sure no one harasses her.
If you have a Muslim work colleague, check in. Tell them that the news is horrifying and you want them to know you’re there for them.
If you have neighbors who are Muslim, keep an eye out for them. If you’re walking your kids home from the bus stop, invite their kids to walk with you.
Talk to your kids. They’re picking up on the anti-Muslim message. Make sure they know how you feel and talk to them about what they can do when they see bullying or hear hate speech at school.
Call out hate speech when you hear it—if it incites hatred or violence against a specified group, call it out: in your living room, at work, with friends, in public. It is most important that you do this among folks who may not know a Muslim.
Set up a “learn about Islam” forum at your book club, school, congregation, dinner club. Call your state CAIR organization, interfaith group or local mosque and see if there is someone who has speaking experience and could come and answer questions about Islam and American Muslims for your group. They won’t be offended. They will want the opportunity to do something to dispel the nastiness.
Write Op Eds and articles saying how deplorable the anti-Muslim rhetoric has gotten and voice your support for Muslim Americans in whatever way you can.
TAKE ACTION Against Islamophobia and Militarism
- See Sofia Ali-Khan’s suggestions above.
- Donate to The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Arab Resource and Organizing Center,Desis Rising up and Moving and the Arab American Action Network.
- Tell your Governor and Congressional representatives to accept Syrian refugees and join with people in your area to offer safe escorts, clothes and food, greetings at the airport, other gestures of support
- Support the We Are Better Than This Campaign.