Fear and hatred of ‘the other’ is nothing new in white America. For decades, it has defined relations with minorities and immigrant communities.
The Jim Crow Laws which legalised racial segregation in southern states for over 100 years turned the American dream into a living nightmare for its citizens of African descent.
Today, anti-Muslim legislation has given a carte blanche for the demonisation and persecution of Muslims in the land of the free.
In this documentary, Al Jazeera’s Investigations Unit has, for the first time, exposed the breath-taking speed with which this malignant cancer is spreading in American society.
It has reached industrial proportions; hence the title Islamophobia incorporated.
The producers have spent several months working behind the scenes to identify the people with the most vested interests in the business of Islamophobia.
Far from being the conduct of a marginal disgruntled few, they found that the purveyors comprise a broad network of politicians, law enforcement personnel, business magnates and religious groups.
Although the hatred of Muslims did not start with the incumbent president, Donald Trump, the documentary shows that under his administration Islamophobia has “skyrocketed.”
When asked why there is no place for Muslims in America, several respondents replied because it is the view of their president.
The link between Trump’s racial slurs and that of the Islamophobes is glaring as it is disturbing. Earlier this year, during a meeting with lawmakers who brought up the issue of protection for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shit hole countries come here?”
Today, his loyal supporters and admirers spew the same disgusting rhetoric; claiming that Muslims should go back to the “sand box” from whence they came.
The inevitable consequence of this officially inspired hatred has been a spate of vicious attacks on Muslims, mosques and businesses. President Trump’s refusal to condemn an attack on a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota in August 2017 indicates the dangerous trajectory America is now on. Bizarrely, a White House spokesman claimed the attack may have been staged to gain sympathy.
For those with short memories, the documentary recalls the appalling treatment meted out to the parents of the American Muslim soldier Capt. Humayun Khan who died in Iraq in 2004. Khizr Khan, a Pakistani immigrant and father of the deceased was forced to react after Trump called for a ban on Muslims from entering the US in December 2015.
Speaking at the Democratic convention in July 2016 when Hillary Clinton accepted the party’s nomination, Khan produced a copy of the American constitution from his jacket pocket and referred Trump to it. He urged the then presidential candidate to visit Arlington cemetery where America’s patriots of “all faiths, genders and ethnicities” are buried.
Naturally, Trump responded in his usual condescending manner with a swipe at Khan’s wife, Ghazala; “She had nothing to say … maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” The obvious insinuation here is the erroneous notion that Muslim women are oppressed.
Islamophobia Incorporated employs much more than crass hatred. It also exploits to the maximum unfounded fears and ignorance; that Muslims will take over America and impose shariah law on its people. Unsurprisingly, none of the interviewees provided evidence of this.
One of the most shocking features of the documentary surrounds the Muslim Brotherhood. Time and again respondents peddle the conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is the mastermind of a sinister project to control America from within its schools, churches and civic institutions.
Regrettably, this orchestrated smear campaign can be traced back to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East where US-backed dictatorships have persecuted the Brotherhood and denied them the right to participate in national politics.
Ostensibly, the real victim of America’s Muslim hatred is democracy itself. Whereas McCarthyite America accused suspected communists of being political “entryists” in the 1950s, so too Muslims are being hounded today and reviled as infiltrators.
Unlike the advocates of Islamophobia, Al Jazeera’s documentary does not rely on sweeping generalisations or fictitious individuals. It identifies and names the persons and institutions who are funding America’s Islamophobia Incorporated. The trail of connection leads to influential politicians on Capitol Hill including President Trump and his newly appointed National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Similarly, the investigation revealed that the president of the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney, is one of the most influential and effective Islamophobes in Washington. He had previously served in the Ronald Reagan administration.
There is yet another outfit that calls itself Act for America; led by Brigitte Gabriel, it is one of the largest anti-Muslim organisations in the country. While parading as a national security organisation, the evidence gathered showed that its rhetoric encourages vigilantism and mob lynching tactics.
Despite their own history of persecution in Europe, Al Jazeera found that a number of prominent Jewish religious organisations are also involved in the funding of the multi-million Islamophobia industry. They are keen to keep Muslims out of mainstream politics because they fear it would lead to a fairer and more just American approach to the conflict in Palestine.
Significantly, none of the leaders of these organisations had either the moral or intellectual courage to be interviewed by Al Jazeera. This speaks to a lack of conviction in their own ability to defend their vile views
This timely investigation by Al Jazeera has identified the main proponents of Islamophobia in America; it has exposed their modus operandi and the poisonous impact they have had on the fabric of American society.
The overarching conclusion that must be drawn from viewing this documentary is that the Islamophobes have betrayed the values of liberty, equality and justice enshrined in the American constitution. Driven by short-sightedness, bigotry and prejudice, they have chosen instead to invest in the business of hatred and discrimination.
When history issues its final verdict on the damage caused by America’s Islamophobia industry, this documentary shall stand as a pivotal witness.
You can watch the film on Al Jazeera English on Monday 14th at 20:00 GMT.