Report Reveals Underpinnings of Islamophobia in the U.S.

Another good example of how the tight-knit network knows is to look at one of the key players—Gaffney. Said Ali, "Frank Gaffney says, 'I don't know much about Sharia, but I can talk about it.' Gaffney's think tank is the one behind the original memo that Sharia is a threat to America. Then David Yerushalmi takes Gaffney's words and drafts legislation. Act for America's Chris Slick (director of online communications) said to us that his organization relies on Gaffney for his expertise on Sharia. And Act for America then gives elected officials and those running for government their talking points that Sharia is a threat."

The motivation behind this anti-Muslim agenda, however, is not explored in the report. "We've been able to trace the path and uncover all the connections," Clifton said, "but we can't comment on what the motivation behind it all is."

Faiz Shakir, the vice president at the Center for American Progress, said that each key foundation identifed in the report was asked for comment, and all declined. 

Clifton and Ali believe that the report can elicit change and a reduction in the spread of Islamophobia in America. Muslims are not the first groups in the U.S. to experience such a phenomenon, Clifton said. "I'm actually very optimistic. This is similar to the Red Scare, and it won't go on forever. Years from now, when people look back at it, they'll say, 'That was silly, because we didn't know the facts. We didn't know the motivation.'

"And we are shedding some light on how [Islamophobia] works, who the players are, and highlighting who funds this. I don't know if any of the funders will change their minds. But even if they double down and decide to still commit to this, it's laid out for the public to know," Clifton said.

Ali said he thinks real change can come from the report. "My hope is that those people on the fence will say, 'Oh wow, those people who claim to be experts, I had no idea that the real agenda is it.'

"We do not and should not divide each other on religious lines," Ali said. "Our hope is that some of the Republican Party will vomit out these elements. I hope the media will realize that these people who we invite as scholars and experts, that they have an agenda. And I hope this report inoculates Americans with information so that the next time they are confronted with hate mongering; they will know what is being pedaled as misinformation. I'm confident that the names we mention in this report, they will be the villains of our children's history books. I know that's a bold statement to make, but the report backs it up."

8/25/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Muslim
  • American Muslims
  • Act for America
  • David Yerushalmi
  • Daniel Pipes
  • Frank Gaffney
  • Islamophobe
  • Islamophobia
  • politics
  • Republicans
  • Islam
  • Dilshad Ali
    About Dilshad Ali
    Dilshad D. Ali is managing editor of the Muslim Portal at Patheos. An experienced journalist, she has covered Islam and Muslims in America for more than ten years for a variety of print and online media outlets, including Beliefnet and Illume, Islamica, and Azizah Magazines.
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