Fox News’ The Five took on the issue Friday, with Eric Bolling slamming “Muslims who seem to have intolerance for everything except their way of thinking.” Bob Beckel referenced his own issues with the Islamic faith when he said, “Have I gotten myself my fatwa yet? Fatwa this!”
Greg Gutfeld mockingly suggested Muslims release a book telling everyone exactly what is offensive to the Islamic faith, since it feels like everything is, while Andrea Tantaros called Islam “the most intolerant religion in the world.”
Having encountered yet another complaint about the use of the word “Islamophobia”, I decided it was high time I searched for an answer as to whence it originated. I have to admit I was more than a little surprised at the outcome.
If they aren’t already aware of it, I’m sure it will annoy Sam Harris and others who try to portray the term as a neologism coined by Muslims (and/or their left-leaning sympathizers) intended to deflect legitimate criticism, but it simply isn’t true. The word was popularized when it appeared in a 1997 report published by the British left-wing think tank, Runnymede Trust, but it actually first appeared in print in an American conservative magazine. Here’s the part about Runnymede:
Commission on British Muslims
In 1992 Runnymede set up a Commission to consider antisemitism in contemporary Britain. Its report entitled A Very Light Sleeper, published in 1994, carried as one of its recommendations the proposal that Runnymede should set up a broadly similar commission to consider Islamophobia.
Early in 1997 the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Conway, issued a consultative document. The final report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. […]
If you go here and follow the link to download the entire scanned report, you’ll see that the first page of the first chapter recounts the story of a British naval officer who, during an interview, employed a rhetorical question about Muslim prayer to explain why the Royal Navy doesn’t (or at least didn’t at that time) actively encourage the recruitment of British Muslims.1 The definition below follows:
A new word
In recent years a new word has gained currency which evokes the outlook and world-view of that officer. The word is ‘Islamophobia’. It was coined in the late 1980’s, its first known use in print being in February 1991, in a periodical in the United States.4 The word is not ideal, but it is recognisably similar to ‘xenophobia’ and ‘europhobia’, and is a useful shorthand way of referring to dread or hatred of Islam — and, therefore, to fear or dislike of all or most Muslims. Such dread and dislike have existed in western countries and culture for several centuries. In the last twenty years, however, the dislike has become more explicit, more extreme and more dangerous. It is an ingredient of all sections of our media, and is prevalent in all sections of our society. […]
Here’s where the story gets downright bizarre: Back in 1991, Insight—which I’d never heard of before today—was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate then owned by the Unification Church.
So, yes, the same wingnut outfit that owns the The
Moonie Washington Times and United Press International (UPI) apparently brought us the term “Islamophobia” by being the first to put it in print.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my head feels like it’s in danger of exploding from the cognitive dissonance this information has caused, so I need to go cover the walls & floor with plastic, just in case…
UPDATE: Compelled to keep digging due to my insatiable curiosity about such matters, I came across some more information that goes even farther back and provides a lot of additional context about how the term Islamophobia (in its present-day usage) entered the popular lexicon.
Surprisingly, it appears the first print usage was actually in France back in 1925 in a book titled L’Orient vu de l’Occident by Etienne Dinet & Sliman Ben Ibrahim, however the authors “did not necessarily employ the term in a way that reflects contemporary usage.”
The info above that I’m referring to comes from the Winter 2010 edition of Arches Quarterly in a chapter called “Contemporary Islamophobia Before 9/11: A Brief History”. It begins on page 14 of this 164-page PDF. Here’s the Wiki entry for Chris Allen, the author of that chapter.
A fundraising effort - led by the secretary of a nearby mosque, together with the owner of a popular curry house and a local textile magnate - has secured the long-term future of the synagogue and forged a friendship between Bradfordian followers of Islam and Judaism. All things being well, by Christmas the first tranche of £103,000 of lottery money will have reached the synagogue’s bank account after some of Bradford’s most influential Muslims helped Leavor and other Jews to mount a bid.
Rayan Dhamuke, 12, doesn’t get to swim a lot, unlike her brothers. During the past summer, she had to visit the pool at 5 a.m. so that she would have the privacy she needed to enjoy the water while still adhering to her family’s cultural and religious beliefs.
To better accommodate girls like Dhamuke, the downtown St. Paul YMCA, in partnership with the St. Paul Police Department, has started a swim group for Somali-American girls. The group, which began in October, is serving as an outlet for girls ages 5 to 17 to learn the basics of swimming..
One evening last week, the din of girls’ laughter and splashes filled the windowless, humid pool room of the St. Paul downtown YMCA.
“Anybody want to try jumping in one more time?” asked an instructor.
“Me! Me! Me!” shouted a chorus of eager beginners, who wore mostly shirts and pants with their heads uncovered.
The group of about 25 girls, who were quiet and reserved earlier in the evening, seemed to come alive while in the water. With each jump, kick and splash, their confidence appeared to grow.
It’s a “night-and-day difference” from the first week when girls hesitated, not wanting to jump in and clinging to the walls of the pool, too afraid to let go, said Morgan Johnson, director of healthy living at the downtown YMCA. Now, they dive in. Even one of the mothers watching Tuesday’s lessons decided to jump in and go for a swim.
“We’ve moved kids from being afraid of the water to really being able to tread water,” said Mary Britts, executive director for the downtown YMCA.
NAUERT: Well the minority becoming the majority at one community pool. Sharia law is now changing everything. A YMCA in Minneapolis-St. Paul is starting a swim group for Muslim girls but special considerations have to be made to keep with their religious beliefs. Now this means during the one-hour class, the pool is being shut down, the men’s locker room is being locked, and female lifeguards are being brought in. Similar classes are now starting at towns across the Midwest. We’ll keep watching this story for you.
Fox News’ decision to cite this story as evidence of “Sharia law” spreading through the country fits with the network’s history of pushing Islamophobia and the myth of “creeping Sharia.” In recent history Fox has led a smear campaign against Park51, an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center, claiming it would potentially be a haven for terrorists. The network has also been known to invite discredited anti-Muslim guests on its shows to push fears about Muslims. Fox’s pattern of Islamophobia has now reached the new low of presenting swimming lessons for young girls as a problem so worrisome that Nauert promised to “keep watching this story.”
The local JCC where Lord Of The Pies go swimming every week also has times set aside for “women only” and for “men only” but nobody is freaking out about that.
We can do this, regardless of what the skeptics may think and in spite of the best efforts of haters to sow and amplify mutual fear, distrust & animosity.
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in partnership with Islamic Society of North America and the Religious Action Center of the Union of Reform Judaism urge mosques and synagogues and Muslim and Jewish organizations in North America and around the world to take part in the 6th Annual Weekend of Twinning and, by doing so, to Stand Up for the Other. Participants in twinning events in many cities will form permanent committees fight Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. Each of these committees will decide what action to take in the event of hate crimes or incitement against one community or the other.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t just own a Quran — he engaged with Islam and fought to ensure the rights of Muslims.
[He] says “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” — Thomas Jefferson, quoting John Locke, 1776
At a time when most Americans were uninformed, misinformed, or simply afraid of Islam, Thomas Jefferson imagined Muslims as future citizens of his new nation. His engagement with the faith began with the purchase of a Qur’an eleven years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s Qur’an survives still in the Library of Congress, serving as a symbol of his and early America’s complex relationship with Islam and its adherents. That relationship remains of signal importance to this day.
That he owned a Qur’an reveals Jefferson’s interest in the Islamic religion, but it does not explain his support for the rights of Muslims. Jefferson first read about Muslim “civil rights” in the work of one of his intellectual heroes: the seventeenth-century English philosopher John Locke. Locke had advocated the toleration of Muslims—and Jews—following in the footsteps of a few others in Europe who had considered the matter for more than a century before him. Jefferson’s ideas about Muslim rights must be understood within this older context, a complex set of transatlantic ideas that would continue to evolve most markedly from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.
Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.
Nice. It’s really good to see some people in Murfreesboro doing things right.
Rabbi Mark Schiftan
The rabbi of Nashville’s largest and longest-practicing synagogue used the most holy night of the Jewish year to invite his congregation on an unusual trip.
Going to the beleaguered mosque in Murfreesboro, he told them Friday, is part of Yom Kippur’s call to introspection. […]
The congregation will load up on buses Oct. 27 and travel to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro for food and conversation, Schiftan said Saturday. While Jews and Muslims are often in conflict overseas, they’re both religious minorities in the U.S. The meeting gives both congregations the opportunity to ask questions and affirm their appreciation of the First Amendment right to practice their religions. […]
Muslims and Buddhists clashed in Myanmar’s northern city of Lashio on Tuesday, witnesses said, as a wave of sectarian violence reached a mountainous region near China’s border.
Phone lines were down in the city of about 131,000 people and the extent of the violence was unclear. Witnesses reported several large fires and said a mosque and Buddhist monastery appear to have been torched.
The violence followed unrest between Muslims and Buddhists in other parts of Myanmar over the past year, including fighting in the central city of Meikhtila in March that killed at least 44 people, mostly Muslims, and razed several Muslim neighborhoods. About 12,000 people lost their homes.
Lashio, capital of Shan State, had been spared from the religious unrest. Known for its strong Chinese influence, it is about 190 km (120 miles) from Muse, a city on China’s border.
Hajji Aung Lwin, a Muslim man from a village on the outskirts of Lashio, said the fighting appeared to have begun after a violent quarrel between a Muslim man and a Buddhist woman who worked at a petrol station.
Several residents said the man doused the woman in fuel and set her on fire. After police detained the man, local Buddhists surrounded the police station and demanded he be handed over, said Aung.
Larry Klayman is very upset that Jewish-Americans aren’t standing up to oppose “the Muslim-in-Chief,” and are instead “at the forefront of a number of scandals.” He said Jews are behind “the promotion of anti-family institutions like gay marriage” and working as President Obama’s “leftist Jewish government comrades and partners in crime.” After calling Obama “a Muslim through and through,” Klayman goes on to write that the IRS scandal was perpetrated by “felonious liberal Jews” who should be in prison:
Well over a decade since the scandalous Clintons left office, the issue of leftist Jewish influence is not just about the promotion of anti-family institutions like gay marriage, but of outright criminal behavior of the Obama administration. I am more than embarrassed and appalled as a Jew to see my own people at the forefront of a number of scandals now perpetrated by the Muslim-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, and his leftist Jewish government comrades and partners in crime. It is time for the great majority of Jews, who are honest law-abiding citizens, to speak up and play a role in helping to put these felonious liberal Jews in a place where the sun don’t shine – meaning prison.
That Jews don’t mince words and don’t generally circle the wagons for their own creed is a Hebrew virtue. The God of Abraham and Isaac is not forgiving to His own people when they step out of line and neither have been his flock. True Jews, like true Christians, will police their own house and not allow criminal behavior to go unaddressed, no matter what the source. That is one of our main differences with Muslims, who by and large cover for, or stay silent about, the terrorist deeds of their brethren. Ironically, this helps explain why Obama, who by birth is half Muslim and who in his heart is a Muslim through and through, refuses to call Muslim terrorism the terrorism it is. We Jews and Christians are cut from a different godly cloth – Yahweh.
So in the last few weeks, when it was revealed that the three main actors in the burgeoning IRS scandal, Doug Shulman, the former IRS commissioner, Steven T. Miller, former acting IRS commissioner, and Lois Lerner, former director of exempt organizations, are all Jewish, my heart again throbbed in shame. Ominously, during the 1990s, and at the height of my efforts to bring the Clintons to justice while heading Judicial Watch, I had tangled with one of these felonious characters, Steven Miller.
A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. And many express a desire for sharia - traditional Islamic law - to be recognized as the official law of their country.
The percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be “the official law of the land” varies widely around the world, from fewer than one-in-ten in Azerbaijan (8%) to near unanimity in Afghanistan (99%). But solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71% of Muslims in Nigeria, 72% in Indonesia, 74% in Egypt and 89% in the Palestinian territories.
At the same time, the survey finds that even in many countries where there is strong backing for sharia, most Muslims favor religious freedom for people of other faiths. In Pakistan, for example, three-quarters of Muslims say that non-Muslims are very free to practice their religion, and fully 96% of those who share this assessment say it is “a good thing.” Yet 84% of Pakistani Muslims favor enshrining sharia as official law. These seemingly divergent views are possible partly because most supporters of sharia in Pakistan - as in many other countries - think Islamic law should apply only to Muslims. Moreover, Muslims around the globe have differing understandings of what sharia means in practice.