Explaining Islamophobia

An excellent piece from The Real News exploring the complex ideological roots of Islamophobia as a mainstream version of so-called Dispensationalist theology positing a “pretribulation rapture” and eschatological “end times” perspective that’s been subsumed by neo-Conservatives and Christian Fascists over the past few decades, and which, ironically, shares a good deal of unfortunate commonality with anti-Semitic paranoia and bigotry once prevalent in Europe.

The op-ed article by Sener Akturk and Mujeeb Khan referenced in the video can be viewed here.



Filed under Racism, Religion

24 responses to “Explaining Islamophobia

  1. leeky

    I’m all for Islamic immigration…in fact, bring it on! They are even more socially conservative than I am and they’re just doing my work for me.

  2. Heh. I’m not sure if that’s always the case. Plenty of Muslims are just as “religious” as are Western secular humanists and casual Christians — that is to say, almost not at all.

  3. leeky

    That is true, redtory. But some are very religious and it seems that they are the ones that governments are accommodating. Perhaps it’s because they’re the noisiest group.

  4. Leeky — Ditto with Christians. It’s the noisy evangelicals, whackaloon zealots, and fervid extremists who all too often end up getting their way with the result of impeding the reasonable course of progress in society.

  5. leeky

    Ah…but what is “the reasonable course of progress in society?”

    You don’t have to answer that…that is probably where we begin to diverge markedly in opinion.

  6. Bryan

    The opening paragraph of the op-ed article by Sener Akturk and Mujeeb Khan reads…

    “… we were deeply disturbed but not surprised that an ostensibly tolerant and pluralistic Western democracy like Switzerland would vote by a margin of 57 percent to ban the religious symbol of 400,000 of its Muslim residents because they felt “threatened” by the grand total of four minarets that exist there.”

    I’d ask the question, “Where is the balanced concern for Christians planting churches in Tehran?”

    We get pretty excited about the Swiss choosing to eliminate the construction of iconic Islamic symbols in an effort to minimize tensions in their own country. Tensions that exist only because they choose to let Muslims meet and worship freely. Yet we don’t hear concern for the non-Muslims in Iran that are raped, tortured and beaten just for practicing another faith in secret–let alone constructing a building with symbolic architecture.

    Which begs the question, what really is the motive behind this outcry, because it certainly has no relationship with genuine concern for the universal freedom of religion.

    Impeccable timing on this post RT, today we are getting many excellent examples of the “tolerance” shown by the Islamic Republic of Iran:

    Obviously they aren’t following the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

    “We’ll beat you senseless if you disagree with us!”

    “Now let us build our Swiss mosques the way we want to, you intolerant…!”

  7. hitfan

    Ironically, Christopher Hitchens, whom you purport to admire, singles out “Jihadists” in his video screed against the 10 commandments.

    Not that I condone or condemn the term “Jihad”, but it’s clearly a term used on Fox News and by neoconservatives as a pejorative against Muslims in general.

    The left loves immigration, only until the immigrants that come in don’t share their vision of their so-called “progressive” beliefs. Some of them even join the “far right”, when their personal interests conflict with the demographic changes that come with immigration (like Pym Fortuyn).

  8. Leeky — Ah…but what is “the reasonable course of progress in society?”

    Rather than prattle on in my own hapless way, I think maybe the best way to explain my concept in this regard is to point you to Jacob Bronowski’s book The Ascent of Man, or the excellent documentary programme of the same name:

    The same instinct that compels us to kick, crawl and stand upright is that which motivates us to imagine, explore, and invent… to progress beyond our primitive limitations and excel in ways that improve our existence, overall happiness, and satisfactory understanding of things — both individually and collectively. To me that’s the core ethos of a “reasonable course of progress in society.”

  9. Hitfan — I don’t “purport to admire” Hitchens; in fact, I do — both for his cheekiness and insolent cynicism. That he happens to be an atheist is a bonus. That isn’t to say that I agree with him in all cases (far from it), but he’s always engaging and provocative; two characteristics that I happen to admire.

    Yes, he singles out “Jihadists” for special contempt, and rightly so. That’s just another word for zealots or fanatics, which are intellectual losers in my book. You’re perhaps correct to knock him on use of this particular word, but the counter-argument to that would be that it’s not such a bad thing to demean this term in the same way that “Crusaders” is now generally regarded with opprobrium.

    The left loves immigration…

    You mean, like the way Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney “love” it?

    Please… spare me your bullshit political talking points, okay? I just really have no patience for flatulent crap like that. But where were you? Oh, right…

    only until the immigrants that come in don’t share their vision of their so-called “progressive” beliefs. Some of them even join the “far right”, when their personal interests conflict with the demographic changes that come with immigration (like Pym Fortuyn).

    I can’t speak for “the Left” but my personal degree of tolerance extends to the intolerance of some immigrants and while that may sound a bit counterintuitive it’s based on the confident theoretical presumption that within a few generations such “intolerant” attitudes will gradually dissipate and eventually become “normalized” within the moderate bounds of our society.

  10. @ Bryan

    Spare us your concerns about Christians in Iran. You are only using their plight as a stick to beat Muslims over the head with. Now, 80% of the Muslims in Switzerland are from Turkey, Albania, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav (mainly secular). The rest are from other parts of the world, mainly North Africa and the Arab countries (also mainly secular). So what do they have to do with Iran? Generalizing much?

    It’s funny that you should mention the Golden Rule, since you don’t seem to be in favour of it at all. You would like to oppress your fellow CITIZENS who happen to be Muslims because they (FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS) oppress (THEIR OWN) Christian(s) (CITIZENS). Also, please enlighten me as to what rights anyone has in Iran? They are all oppressed! So in your warped mind, this justifies us going after Muslims? So are you going to make the Jews in the West suffer because the Israeli Government is run by racist and genocidal jerk? No, so your comparison falls flat on its face and expose the bigot that you are.

    Lastly, if you are truly concerned about minority rights in Iran, why not mention the more numerous Sunnis there? Let’s see now, Sunnis are about 10-40% of Iranians and they don’t even have a Mosque in Tehran, the capital city (Christians have many churches there). What percentage of Iranians are Christian? And are they being oppressed as much as their Sunni counterparts? Stop engaging in oppression Olympics and you’ll have a credible argument. However, that’ll just gets in the way of your hate against Muslims.

    Going back to the Swiss issue, denying their equal rights guaranteed by law leads to a downwards spiral until eventually we will see the same thing in the videos happening here. It’s only a matter of time if we follow your thought process to its ideological ends.

    Lastly, this is what you should have typed in the end:

    “We’ll harass, detain, coerce and disenfranchise you senseless if you disagree with us!”

    “Now let us reduce your rights, you intolerant…!”

  11. Bryan


    You’ve setup several great straw man arguments and knocked them all down. Good job.

    I never said we should oppress Muslims in our countries. I never said that it was great that the Swiss voted to ban minarets. And I never said that Muslims weren’t abusing people from within their own faith (that is all to well documented in both Iran and Iraq).

    What I did say was simply that there seems to be little balance in the concern for religious tolerance, from those in the Islamic community–whether those Muslims are from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe or North America.

    This article, and RT’s posting of it, is a great example of this.

    Read more carefully and don’t put words in my mouth.

  12. Rotterdam

    I watched the video.
    Major Hasan was a very devout Muslim deeply influenced by an Imam from Yemen.
    His Muslim faith influenced his actions.

    Timothy McVeigh was not religious at all.
    His parents were nominal Catholic.
    McVeigh’s “Christian faith”, or lack thereof
    had no effect on his actions since he had none.

    Those are facts the video ignores.

  13. @ Bryan,

    Oh, I read you post carefully. You act as if your first post wasn’t a red herring attempt. Muslims are being discriminated against all over Europe. Recognizing that doesn’t take away from the fact that some Muslims are also discriminating against others. Yet, this was too much for you. You went ahead and posted about Christian persecution in Iran because you felt it was relevant. It seems that you wanted to deflate any sympathies gained by bring up Iran’s horrendous treatments of its Christians. Either that or you are generalizing (all Muslims are one and the same). If you disagree then why else did you bring up Iran (you dodged this issue)?

    “And I never said that Muslims weren’t abusing people from within their own faith (that is all to well documented in both Iran and Iraq)”.

    So you agree with me that theocratic and authoritarian Iran oppresses all except those that follow the official Shia version as practiced by the government and the clerics. So why again would you bring the suffering of only one group in the context of this story (forgetting for a moment that the Swiss are democratic and the Iran isn’t)? Again you only wanted to diminish the legitimate concerns of Swiss Muslims and implying that they deserve the treatment due to not adhering to some form of the Golden Rule. Did I get it right this time or are you going to run away from this point as well?

    “We’ll beat you senseless if you disagree with us!”
    “Now let us build our Swiss mosques the way we want to, you intolerant…!”

    Where’s the tolerance in those statements of yours? Those two sentences exposes your true feelings in this matter. You are against Muslims in general and don’t seem to sympathize with them. You can play word games all you want, but you can’t seem to come out and say it. They are building mosques as guaranteed by Swizterland’s constitution. SVP bigots didn’t like it and tried to limit their rights through a vote. Since they can’t prevent the buildings of mosques, they targeted the Minarets, just as France & Germany went after the Hijab in schools. If this was a general ban on all religious towers/spirals/Minarets, then yes, but it was drafted solely towards Muslims. The group that pushed for this (SVP, Swiss People’s Party) also wants to ban Jewish and Muslim cemeteries, attempted to prevent Muslims Halal and Jewish Kosher practices and are currently trying to pass other measures to repress the rights of religious minorities. They couldn’t accomplish them all at once so they started with the Minaret issue. These people only wish for the power that the Iranian gov’t has to push through their agendas. Yet instead of a comment expressing support, you bring up a separate issue (Perhaps you can contribute an article about Iran’s persecution of Christians, if you cared so much and submit it to RT, that way it won’t seem suspect).

    “What I did say was simply that there seems to be little balance in the concern for religious tolerance, from those in the Islamic community–whether those Muslims are from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe or North America.”

    And what are you basing this on? Even if this is true (doubtful) what does it have to do with this case. It funny how you are arguing that Muslims lack concern about religious tolerance while in your posts you don’t seem bothered when it is against them.

  14. @Rotterdam

    Bush is a very devout Christian deeply influenced by Right Wing Evangelists. His Christian faith influenced his actions. So I guess based on this I can assume that all Christians are like Bush.

  15. Rotterdam

    George Bush is a Christian, so is Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, John Diefenbaker, Liberal MPs John Mackay and Dan Mcteague.
    Big deal.
    The Video Red Tory claims “explains Islamophobia”
    claims Timothy McVeigh’s “faith” had the same bearing on his actions as Major Hasan. That is categorically false.
    McVeigh was non religious. He had no faith.
    Major Hasan was deeply involved in Islamic Jihad.

    The left are so afraid of offending a non western religion they become blind. Their blindness allies them with the most homophobic and misogynist

  16. Rotterdam

    As far as the claim Christians and Jews are no worse then Islam, I will let Dr. Wafa Sulten speak on
    Al-Jazeera TV. An education for the cultural relativists.

  17. Rotterdam

    This one has sound.

  18. @Rotterdam

    Wow, you’re reaching hard here if you are relying on the discredited Dr. Wafa Sultan. She has been proven to be a liar (the beginning incident in the University is disputed by all those who were there).


    “As far as the claim Christians and Jews are no worse then Islam, I will let Dr. Wafa Sulten speak on Al-Jazeera TV. An education for the cultural relativists.”

    I thought Wafa was a psychologist, not a historian. What knowledge does she have regarding history. We in the West have caused more damage to the world then anyone else out there. To state otherwise is an outright lie. Thankfully, most learned scholars disagree with her.

    It’s also funny how you use pro-zionist Memeri as one of your proofs. They have been known to smear Arabs and Muslims. Each video and news clippings is spliced up and mashed together and mistranslated to make them seem much worse. Go and find the full version of the video, heck I’ll save you the hassle and do it myself.

    If you turely want the truth, post the full video:

    More of Wafa’s tolerant views here:

  19. philosoraptor


    The oppressive, theocratic government of Iran oppresses Christians. The friendly, democratic, Western government of Switzerland oppresses Muslims. These are not equivalent. We should be concerned about both, but the former has been occurring for a long time and is a property of the theocratic government, while the latter is symptomatic of a recent failure of democracy and a waning of equal respect for religious beliefs. Furthermore, as a Western democracy we are in a position to affect the situation in Switzerland, whereas the situation in Iran is largely out of reach for us. It is dishonest to try and deflect the issue under discussion (which is the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in WESTERN democracies) with a red herring about the perpetual oppression of Christians in a Middle Eastern theocracy.

    Maybe come back when you’re ready to talk about the topic at hand.

  20. philosoraptor

    I should add in full disclosure: I generally wish that we would do away with religion entirely, but if we’re going to claim democracy and equality rights, we are compelled to grant them to all religions provided they are practiced in a non-intrusive or non-dangerous manner.

    In short, religion is socially, culturally and psychologically regressive, but as long as it’s harmless worship of your imaginary friend then it doesn’t affect me.

  21. Tomm

    Very interesting post.

    I was going to make some comments about the video but since other texters are essentially ignoring it, so will I.

    Your clip from The Ascent of Man moved me to a different clip:
    -Knowledge or Certainty 7/7

    I don’t know how to imbed it so you’ll have to hunt it up yourself if that interested. The clip is the one where Bronowski discusses how the Nazi’s created a society where the ends DID justify the means, and a level of cultural mindset where dark doors are kept wedged open.

    I think it is a fitting analogy to what we are seeing in Islamic states. There is an allowance for “force”, there is a mindset of “oneness”, and there is a leadership void in the promotion of humanism.

    My most respected teacher was Muslim. It is a great religion, but today, it is not undergoing a reformation in the places of the world where it is dominant. This is a singularly important failing and it is taking us ever closer to increasing confrontation.

    To blame the west for this confrontation is turning away from the truth.

  22. Gerty

    Google “Copy of MacDonald’s Handwritten ‘Pretrib Revelation’ is Found!” And Joe Ortiz’s “End Times Passover” blog (3/9/10) is the first to air a facsimile copy of any part of it!
    If you are looking for arguments used by pretrib rapture teachers, Google “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy.”

    [just viewed the foregoing while computering]

  23. Yikes this really takes me back, i’ve been thinking about this subject for a while.

  24. Jordan

    I’m reminded of Hitchens’ (to bring him up again) recent words regarding the comparison of Islamophobia to the anti-Jewish sentiments of pre-WWII Europe.

    “Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith [Islam] is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.”

    And, yeah, I necro’d. Sue me. Just found the blog. 🙂

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