Eid-ul-Fitr is on Sunday, June 25, 2017
From 5:00pm to 9:00pm, PSUB Wood River Room.
There has been a long history of a fear and hatred for Islam and Muslims in Europe and beyond. It has long been forgotten that the Habsburg King Philip III in the 17th Century authorized the expulsion of the entire Muslim population in Iberia. This amounted to 300, 000 men, women and children being forcibly removed in the largest ethnic deportation in European history (Carr, 2009). The Spanish celebrated their ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Muslims from Spain by naming towns and places ‘Matamoros’ which means ‘Kill the Moors’. Moors was the name given Muslims in Spain. These towns and places still have this name today. The fact that 11% of today’s Spanish population has Moorish DNA is evidence of the forced conversions to Christianity in Spain at this time (Adams et.al., 2008). To learn more about this episode in European history read Matt Carr’s book “Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain 1492 – 1614”.
Today, Islamophobia is still prevalent. Chris Allen defined the phenomenon in his book: Islamophobia. Allen was commissioned by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to produce a report on Islamophobia after 9/11. He is a British sociologist based at the Institute of Applied Social Studies at the University of Birmingham. His definition:
“Islamophobia is an ideology, similar in theory, function and purpose to racism and other similar phenomena, that sustains and perpetuates negatively evaluated meaning about Muslims and Islam in the contemporary setting in similar ways to that which it has historically, although not necessarily as a continuum, subsequently pertaining, influencing and impacting upon social action, interaction, response and so on, shaping and determining understanding, perceptions and attitudes in the social consensus – the shared languages and conceptual maps – that inform and construct thinking about Muslims and Islam as Other (Allen, 2010, p. 190).”
Islamophobia has several manifestations including hate crimes and the prejudicial treatment by the government of Muslims and those that are identified as Muslim. Hate crimes have been increasing against the Muslim community in the United States. The FBI collects statistics on hate crimes committed against various religious communities. The linear trend between 2008 and 2012 has been positive. In 2012 there was a 19% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in compared to 2008. See table 1.
Table 1: Total Hate Crimes Against Muslims 2008 – 2012
At the governmental level, there has been trouble with getting mosque projects approved by city and county governments. 76% of all mosques in the United States have been established since the 1980s in which there were 2,106 mosques in 2011 which was a 74% increase over 2000 (Bagby, 2011). The increase in the number of mosque projects including ours in Pocatello has increased the number of conflicts over these projects. The number of mosque project disputes is collected by Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life. Between 2010 and 2012 there were 54 mosque project controversies located in 21 states. The number of controversies in order of frequency by state is in table 2. A link to the Pew Center research on this topic is here:
A link to Ihsan Bagby’s report on mosques in the United States is here:
Table 2: Number of Mosque Controversies by State 2010 – 2012
At the state government level, the recent phenomenon of anti-sharia laws has proliferated across the United States. The first crop of anti-sharia bills began to be introduced in 2010. Sharia is basically Islamic law and is the guiding rules and regulations to Muslims who practice their religion. Forbidding sharia to Muslims would be similar to forbidding Jewish law to Jews. The Law and the religion is the same. Oklahoma became the first state to pass one of these laws. The Oklahoma constitutional amendment became the catalyst for the other anti-Shariah bills across the country. The laws are styled on the model legislation of David Yerushalmi and his American Laws for American Courts concept. David Yerushalmi is a staunch Islamophobe and was featured in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Anti-Muslim Inner Circle article (Steinback, 2011).
The Oklahoma law was challenged and successfully defeated in the case Awad v. Ziriax in a federal district court decision and the defeat was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in January 2012. Since this ruling, these laws have used ambiguous language with the same intention. These laws have been tracked by Bill Raftery, who is the editor of Gavel to Gavel which is the newsletter of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The introduction of these laws in state legislatures (passed / unpassed) were totaled per year per state between 2010 and 2013. In total 109 anti-sharia bills were introduced in 32 states in this time period. Table 3 has these totals per state. A link to the Gavel to Gavel site that tracks anti-sharia bills is here:
These bills along with other related information has also been compiled by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding here:
Eliyahu Stern, an associate professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University wrote a nice op-ed for the New York Times in 2011 about sharia and these laws (Stern, 2011). A link to this article is here:
Table 3: Number of anti-Sharia Bills Introduced by State 2010 – 2013
In addition to these problems, Muslims have been experiencing discrimination at the workplace. For example, Umme-Hani Khan was a sales associate for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. She wore hijab in which the district manager who saw her wearing the hijab at the store in San Mateo County (south of San Francisco) asked her to remove the scarf. She refused based on her faith and she was fired based on the company’s ‘Look Policy’. Khan than sued the company. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court specifically for another Muslim woman with the same issue, Samantha Elauf, in which the Court sided with the Muslim women (8 – 1) that the ‘look policy’ was discrimination. The ruling supported the idea that Americans have a right to religious accommodation at their places of work. A link to a discussion on the ruling over this past summer (2015) is here:
Lastly, Muslims have experienced problems with discrimination by the Federal government starting with the Patriot Act following the 9/11 attacks. Since then Muslims have experienced profiling at all levels of government. Muslims have experienced this with the countering violent extremism (CVE) programs, the no-fly list, etc. The Muslim Legal Fund of America funds the defense of Muslims who have experienced this discrimination by Federal prosecutors that have wide scale ramifications for the Muslim American community in general. A link to these ongoing cases is here:
For more information on Islamophobia, listen to these podcasts recorded at KISU at Idaho State University in Pocatello.
Adams, S. M., Bosch, E., Balaresque, P. L., Ballereau, S. J., Lee, A. C., Arroyo, E., . . . López-Parra, A. M. (2008). The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 83(6), 725-736
Allen, C. (2010). Islamophobia. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Bagby, I. (2011). The American Mosque 2011 (1). Retrieved from CAIR website: https://www.cair.com/images/pdf/The-American-Mosque-2011-part-1.pdf
Carr, M. (2009, February). Spain’s Ethnic Cleansing. History Today, 59(2).
Controversies over mosques and Islamic centers across the U.S. (2012, September 27). Retrieved from http://features.pewforum.org/muslim/controversies-over-mosque-and-islamic-centers-across-the-us.html
Controversies over Mosques and Islamic Centers across the U.S. (2010, September 24). Retrieved from http://features.pewforum.org/muslim/controversies-over-mosqueand-islamic-centers-across-the-us.html
Raftery, B. (2013, February 13). Bans on court use of sharia/international law: heavily modified bills introduced in 2013. Retrieved from http://gaveltogavel.us/site/2013/02/13/bans-on-court-use-of-shariainternational-law-heavily-modified-bills-introduced-in-2013-exempts-contracts-native-american-tribes-avoids-using-word-sharia/
Raftery, B. (2012, January 30). Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 33 bills in 20 states to start 2012. Retrieved from http://gaveltogavel.us/site/2012/01/30/bans-on-court-use-of-shariainternational-law-33-bills-in-20-states-to-start-2012-review-of-all-efforts-since-2010/
Raftery, B. (2011, December 27). 2011 year in review: Banning courts from using sharia law/international law. Retrieved from http://gaveltogavel.us/site/2011/12/27/2011-year-in-review-banning-courts-from-using-sharia-lawinternational-law/
Steinback, R. (2011, Summer). Jihad against islam. Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, (142), Retrieved from http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2011/summer/jihad-against-islam
U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Hate crime statistics 2011. Retrieved from website: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2011
U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007). Hate crime statistics 2007. Retrieved from website: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2007