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Islamophobia: An Unfortunate, Contemporary Reality

Reader comment on item: Bibliography – My Writings on Not Trusting CAIR

Submitted by Pro-Israeli Democrat (United States), May 29, 2006 at 23:25

In my opinion, Daniel Pipes is right about CAIR. I agree: CAIR is NOT to be trusted due to its approval of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Even as a liberal/liberatarian, I believe that the organization is more or less illigitimate. Yet, I sincerely believe that Islamophobia is an unfortunate, contemporary reality, albeit moreso in Europe than in the United States, Canada, and other liberal democracies. One cannot underestimate the impact of Islamophobia, for other groups have faced similar obstacles. To do so would be to make a grave error.

Now, I am not a Muslim (in fact, as my name may sugest, I am a Jew...of Polish origin, albeit a non-practicing one who supports Israel nonetheless; you CAN classify me as an agnostic or perhaps even an atheist). Still, in light of what has gone on in Europe recently, I have acquired a great deal of sympathy for them (perhaps moreso as Arabs, Indonesians, Pakistanis, etc. than as Muslims). It is easy for me to identify with the Muslims, for at one time, the fear of Jews led to the most disgraceful instance of modern genocide: the Holocaust. As a firm believer in secularism and freedom of speech, I supported (and continue to support) Denmark during the cartoon controversy. Why should we bend over for a bunch of religious fundamentalists? We face the same problem here in America, although less so from Muslims than from Fundamentalist Christians. On issues such as this, there should be no compromise for religion by us secularists. Fundamentalists, both Christian and Muslim, wish to dominate the world. We must work to make sure that neither do, otherwise we will face a very unhappy little future.

Nevertheless, Islamophobia is a very real problem. It is not a new one, either, for it arguably fueled the Crusades (which, contrary to what Robert Spencer claims were NOT defensive wars...they killed Jews, Muslims and even fellow Christian...that is NOT a defensive war). There are two forms: 1) regular islamophobia and 2) islamistphobia. Am I islamistphobic (to quote a fellow atheist)? Yes; and I think Mr. Pipes can identify with this sentiment, for most garden-variety Westerners, both liberal-centrist and conservative-centrist are (as indeed they should be). Islamists terrify me. Regular islamophobia, though, is a very real problem which must be addressed. Overcoming it is an extremely important key to a victory in the war on terror.

The primary battlegrounds here are free, democratic countries such as Italy and France, where Arabs and Muslims are clearly treated as second-class citizens. Once they are made to feel as if they belong, they will overcome their isolation. Europe, already great, will become better. How do I know this?? Well, I don't, but I have had the privilege of going to college and making friends/acquaintances with several Muslims, mostly immigrants. These include Afghans, Egyptians, Palestinians (who were probably the most SECULAR of all), and an Israeli-Iranian who opted to follow Shiite Islam, although that her mother was Jewish would have made her Jewish by default. All were lovely people, and in meeting them, I overcame a lot of the grievances I had held against Muslims since well before the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Where had I acquired these grievances from? Probably the media.

We did not always agree politically; I favor the Israelis; most of the Muslims made their cases for a Palestinian state (although not ONE voiced approval for Hamas). Yet, that is the nature of debate. Will I stop being your friend because you favor the Palestinians? The answer is as follows: NEVER. I MUST emphasize that Palestinians, too, have legitimate claims, and deserve a state (or several miniaturestates on the border with Israel; Gaza and the West Bank for example...sans Hamas, of course) although it is clear that Jerusalem is best off under Israeli control (and this is a secular, logistical concern; not a relifious one). I will, however, question whether the Palestinians can create a secular, democratic state that co-exists peacefully with Israel and is ruled by LAW, rather than by Saudi-style DECREE (and neither will occur under Hamas).

Granted, CAIR is a disgrace. Yet, American and Canadian Muslims are a great success story: Tarek Fatah, Hamza Yusuf, Khaled Abou el Fadl (who I do NOT consider a "stealth islamist"; "stealth islamists" do NOT own dogs...Sami al-Arian, on the other hand IS a stealth Islamist-who backed Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign and even posed with him; I have the picture!), and above all Irshad Manji (whom I admire greatly and would love to meet one day). 9/11 has, in my opinion, drawn America CLOSER to its Muslim population. Let's set an example and start a trend which Europe can follow. We should lead by example. To criticize Islam is one thing (and I am certainly in a good position to say so, for I criticize Islam all the time), and so is criticizing any other religion (I criticize conservative Christians every bit as much). Yet, to single out and isolate a person...any person, on the basis of their religion (whether they be Jew, Christian, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist) is simply wrong. The War on Terror is a battle of ideas, and this includes a battle with our own. It should bring us closer together, not further apart.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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