Moderate Muslim Watch: How the Term “Islamophobia” Got Shoved Down Your Throat

Salim Mansur, about whom I’ve been meaning to write for some time, kindly sent me a link to his interview with the Investigative Project on Terror:

Mansur, a Muslim born in India, made a powerful case that the U.S. government and Western mainstream media ignore the real danger to Muslims around the world: terror, intimidation, repression and genocide committed by their fellow Muslims.

The point he makes next is one I make all the time, though I have the sense I’m shouting into a wind tunnel:

The U.S. government and the media help facilitate this skewing of priorities, Mansur said, one which benefits Islamists at the expense of ordinary Muslims.

The Obama Administration is sending “a confused message,” by courting Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) while shutting out non-Islamist Muslims.

According to Mansur, these groups, frequently quoted in the media as representatives of American Muslims, are often linked with radical organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, Americans haven’t heard “clear, unambiguous, categorical” denunciations of suicide bombings from U.S. Muslim organizations attacks since September 11. These Muslim groups have also failed to speak out clearly against Sharia and the repression of women in the Islamic world.

“Neither CAIR nor ISNA–nor any of the other [Islamist] organizations, as far as I know, have come out and said that we as Muslims in the West have a different perspective on the question of Sharia…and we’re going to revise it,” he said.

Most Americans, I think, will recognize the name CAIR. The rest form something of an acrostic soup in their minds, though they should be household names–kind of like the TSA, another acronym for which we can ultimately thank the same people.  

Genuinely moderate Muslims (once again, yes, they exist, and yes, there are many of them) are struggling desperately to make themselves heard over the roar made by these groups, which are lavishly funded by the Saudis and connected–ideologically, historically, and financially–to the most despicable extremists in the Islamic world. The extremists to whom they’re connected, not to put too fine a point on it, want Muslims like Salim Mansur dead. They want you dead, too. And these groups have succeeded in setting the political and cultural agenda in the West to a degree that should shock any thinking person. 

The word “Islamophobia” is a nice example. Many of you, I’m sure, have felt a wash of annoyance upon hearing the word used to dismiss your concerns about what are obviously very real pathologies in the Islamic world. I find myself particularly vexed when the word is applied to me; for God’s sake, I’m sitting here in the heart of a city of 20 million Muslims, why would I be here if Islam itself gave me the vapors? The phrase “some of my best friends are Muslims” is more than a cliche in my case; most of my best friends are Muslims, all of my neighbors are Muslims, and the way I live my life would make no sense at all if I had a phobia–an “irrational intense fear” as the dictionary has it, one characterized by an “excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus”–of Islam. I’d be like an arachnophobe hanging out in the woodpile, now, wouldn’t I? 

I have a rational fear, however, of political Islam, particularly the Wahhabi and Iranian revolutionary strains, which pose a very real threat not only to me and to the West, but–as Mansur very correctly points out–an even greater threat to my friends and neighbors.

Now here’s a point you might deeply consider: The neologism “Islamophobia” did not simply emerge ex nihilo. It was invented, deliberately, by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which is based in Northern Virginia. If that name dimly rings a bell, it should: I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s particularly important because it was co-founded by Anwar Ibrahim–the hero of Moderate Islam who is now trotting around the globe comparing his plight to that of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the IIIT who has renounced the group in disgust, was an eyewitness to the creation of the word. “This loathsome term,” he writes,

is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.

In another article concerning the many moderate Muslims whose voices have been drowned out by Saudi-financed Muslim Brotherhood front groups, Muhammad describes the strategy behind the word’s invention:

In an effort to silence critics of political Islam, advocates needed to come up with terminology that would enable them to portray themselves as victims. Muhammad said he was present when his then-allies, meeting at the offices of the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Northern Virginia years ago, coined the term “Islamophobia.”

Muhammad said the Islamists decided to emulate the homosexual activists who used the term “homophobia” to silence critics. He said the group meeting at IIIT saw “Islamophobia” as a way to “beat up their critics.”

Really imagine that scene: a bunch of Islamists admiring how astutely the queers–people who in their ideal world would be served with the lash or hanged–had portrayed their critics as mentally disturbed. Brilliant. Let’s take a leaf from them and then kill them. The association of anti-Islamism–the noblest form of liberal anti-totalitarianism–with gay-bashing rednecks in the grip of a psychosexual panic was not just one of those linguistic accidents of history, in other words. These guys were sitting there in Virginia and really thinking about the best way to exploit the weaknesses of the Western psyche. They came up with this word–and admit it, it’s clever; I challenge you to find a better one if you want to yank the West’s chain–and they marketed it with  petrodollars, and now it truly does drive public discourse and policy the world over.  I was asked when I was recently on a Turkish television news show whether the Tea Party was “Islamophobic.” That’s what they’re hearing here in Turkey, thanks to the IIIT. It’s not an indigenous Turkish concept, I assure you.

The fact that the IIIT was co-founded by Anwar Ibrahim, who is now on trial for sodomy–something of a homophobic charge, that--would be almost hilarious in its just-deserts irony if Anwar hadn’t succeeded in portraying himself as the moderate darling of Muslim moderation whose plight should now trouble the liberal conscience of the West, no matter his own role in exploiting it. Read the linked interview in full, if you have the time, and consider its many implications. Put your favorite parts in the comment thread.

This is another case–like the revelation that we’ve poured money into “secret” negotiations with some schmuck pretending to represent the Taliban–where our foreign policy incompetence is almost unimaginable. (It’s perfectly understandable to me when Turks say to me that this must all be an elaborate conspiracy and subterfuge, since everyone knows Americans aren’t that stupid. If only they were right.)

So Anwar Ibrahim– our moderate man in moderate Malaysia–is the moderate man behind this Orwellian effort to render the West incapable of objecting even verbally to political Islam. The gift of “Islamophobia” is just the beginning of the story. Researcher Rachel Ehrenfeld has written an outstanding investigative report about Anwar and the support he’s received in the West. It’s enough to make you weep. 

She sent it to me in PDF form. I’ve read it. It is long, and it requires patience–she’s combed through a tremendous amount of documentary evidence, court filings, financial records, tax returns; she’s laboriously traced the whole sad sordid network. It probably represents months of research on her end. It took me a few hours carefully to read it. By the end you’re not in much doubt.

But you have to be willing to spend a few hours reading really to grasp the situation–and apparently, the world’s a bit short on time and just not that curious. Easier just to take Paul Wolfowitz’s word for it: Anwar is “one of the most wonderful human beings in public life anywhere,” he gushes. It’s men like him, he says, “who will lead change throughout the Muslim world.” Unfortunately, at this rate, he’s right. 

Where is Ehrenfeld’s report, you ask? Where can you read it? You can’t. It’s never been published. Not much of a market for that kind of work, I’m afraid. Too Islamophobic.

  1. John Marzan

    It’s a shame Anwar Ibrahim is not what he (and the media) portrays himself to be–a true moderate Muslim. The guy got beaten up and went to jail because he clashed with former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammed. Thought that he gained enough street cred with that.

  2. Okan Altiparmak
    It’s a shame Anwar Ibrahim is not what he (and the media) portrays himself to be–a true moderate Muslim.

    Why is it a shame for a guy not to turn out to be the delusional fantasy of the media and to act like the sociopath he really is? I think it is a shame that the media and political leaders do not focus on truly moderate Muslims and cater to these socio- or psycho-paths just because that is what the Saudi/Arab money guides them to.

  3. Jason Hart
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: They came up with this word–and admit it, it’s clever; I challenge you to find a better one if you want to yank the West’s chain–and they marketed it with  petrodollars, and now it truly does drive public discourse and policy the world over.

    This is at least as frightening as the numerous attempted Islamist attacks here since 9/11. It’s easy to forget that people who want us dead or kneeling spend huge sums of money to that end every day. I assumed “Islamophobia” was an invention of some talking head which immediately took hold throughout American media as the perfect PC explanation for a perfectly un-PC subject. As you’ve said, the truth is far worse.

    As for Ehrenfeld’s report… surely Rob can give you the number of someone at Encounter Books!

  4. Duane Oyen

    I don’t see much creativity here- all they did was copy the US media’s oldest tactic- e.g., “homophobe”, etc.

    But, I wonder when we will find a Muslim government with enough intestinal fortitude to fund guys like this to get their message out?

    And people here wonder why I am into promoting fuels alternatives to put the Saudis out of the financial angel missionary business.

  5. Sisyphus

    Hmm.  Tech issues still. My original message was eaten by Internet fairies and disappeared from the local page cache.

    Those of use that wished the Bush Administration well in the war on terror were dismayed when CAIR was foisted on the FBI and other law enforcement by the White House as experts on dealing with the Muslim community, positioning them as the identity politics face of the Muslim community along the lines of an NAACP or a NOW.  At the same time, investigations within the FBI were turning up operational connections between CAIR, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other international bad actors. The news shot of W walking, literally hand in hand, across the lawn with Saud was a very uncomfortable foreshadow of the bowing Obama ugliness.

    Thanks for the fresh perspective, Claire.  There are not very many in the international press with the journalistic chops to keep the players straight and the integrity to tell the story publicly.   

  6. Brian Watt

    I long for the day that news organizations (from the NY Times, WAPO, and even Fox News) stop referring to CAIR as a Muslim civil rights organization. After reading Gaubatz and Sperry’s Muslim Mafia, I’m appalled that CAIR and ISNA are still held up as respectable rather than repugnant and reprehensible organizations. It’s so obvious when being interviewed on television that when faced with a tough question their immediate tactic is to dodge, deflect and accuse the interviewer or the American people at large as anti-Muslim or Islamophobic. Will we ever see a FRONTLINE exposé on these groups? Or a Fox in-depth report? Will Congresswoman Sue Myrick be able to open a congressional investigation on them? Will the FBI be called to explain how a Hamas fund raiser was granted access to their top secret anti-terrorist headquarters? Will the administration explain how Obama can sit down at a White House dinner with the president of ISNA, an organization named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror funding trial? To hear true moderate Muslims we need to deny these foreign agencies the privilege of spewing their insidious propaganda.