Anti-Muslim Bigotry since 9/11
Demonizing Muslims and Islam
Posted: August 26, 2011
Several fringe extremist groups have launched public campaigns that have both sheltered and fueled anti-Muslim bigotry. The Dove World Outreach Center, a virulently anti-Muslim, anti-gay Apostolic church based in Gainesville, Florida, called for an "International Burn a Koran Day" on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 attacks. Operation Save America (OSA), an organization with a three-pronged mission to demonize Islam, homosexuality and abortion, declaring that "all three have entered into a pact with death," has organized demonstrations in front of mosques; in one case, it issued flyers that read: "Islam is another murderous cover-up for the devil."
Hatred of Islam has not been limited to the extremist fringes. Several groups with extreme anti-Muslim agendas have launched public campaigns that both shelter and fuel this bigotry. These campaigns are rooted in a specifically anti-Islamic ideology that moves beyond religious or racial prejudices and incorporates anti-Islamic sentiment as the focal point of a larger worldview.
Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), for example, which organized inflammatory demonstrations against the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero, seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy "American" values. The organization, led by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, warns of the encroachment of Shari'a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the "falsity of Islam."
Adherents of this ideological Islamophobia view Islam as an existential threat to the world, and especially to the "West." Moreover, they believe that leaders and governments in the western world are consciously or unconsciously collaborating to allow Islam to "infiltrate" and eventually conquer the West.
We have seen frequent manifestations of this ideology, including the eager promotion by anti-Muslim zealots of a growing conspiracy theory about "creeping Shari'a law" in the United States.
One of the driving forces behind Shari'a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari'a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.
Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari'a law that declares there are "hundreds of millions" of Muslims who are either "fully committed mujahideen" or "still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers" who, because of Shari'a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert in order to "impose a worldwide political hegemony." Meanwhile, Yerushalmi asserts, the U.S. government itself has consciously chosen to turn a blind eye to this threat.
Yerushalmi's weapon is model anti-Shari'a legislation he has titled "American Laws for American Courts," developed for a group called the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA). The group claims that "one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties today" comes from "foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines," including "Islamic Shari'ah law," that have been "infiltrating our court system."
Yerushalmi's proposed legislation, which claims to "protect American citizens' constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shari'ah Law," has been the basis for anti-Shari'a measures introduced by state lawmakers in several states in recent years.