Islamophobia, racism and white nationalism


PUBLIC LECTURE: "The Future of Muslims in a Trumpian World," Islamic Center of Southern California, 12.18.2016.

Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl explains the history and rise of white-nationalism and the forces that gave rise to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  He explains the various arguments that justify the vilification of Islam, including arguments around the "clash of civilizations" thesis, the so-called superiority of the "West," and the redefinition and use of the notion of "Judeo-Christian values" as a cover for racism, bigotry and white privilege. He discusses how the Trump administration and cabinet appointees have expanded the definition of "Radical Islamists" to include all Muslims and the religion of Islam, and how this redefinition will become the basis of the persecution to come. Muslims, as the "low-hanging fruit" and test cases for the new administration will pave the way for the persecution of other minority groups that will be next in line after the Muslims. Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses what Muslims can expect with a Trump administration and what Muslims must do in order to prepare for the likely battles ahead.  Professor Abou El Fadl spoke to the Islamic Center of Southern California on December 18, 2016. 

OPINION: “Who's Afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood? How Hatred of Islam is Corrupting the American Soul,” Religion and Ethics Website, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (January 18, 2017)

EXCERPT: "...In the Muslim world, the bogeyman of the Muslim Brotherhood has been exploited by authoritarian governments to repress their citizens for more than half a century. It is but a pathetic and pitiful irony that now the very same bogeyman will be used to persecute a broad array of Muslim organizations and individuals in the United States..."

OPINION: "Make America White Again: Donald Trump and the Cancer of Racism," Religion and Ethics Website, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (November 21, 2016)

EXCERPT: "...How does Islamophobia feature in all of this? Islamophobia is but the gateway drug for the malignancy of bigotry and hate; it is the virus that seeds the cancer of racism that will overtake the body of the nation; it is the dissolution of conscience and the rise of haughtiness that precedes the crime of mass murder committed by an indiscriminate killer. For political reasons, Islamophobia is easy because Muslims in the West are disorganized, and powerless. They are the perfect guinea pigs to sacrifice on the way to targeting more formidable foes and taking down greater game..."

OPINION: “Religious Liberty, Equal Citizenship and the Threat of Anti-Shari’a Loyalty Oaths,” Religion and Ethics Website, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (August 1, 2016)

EXCERPT: "...To say to a person, I respect your right to adhere to your own faith but I merely demand to know what that faith means, is as much an invasion against liberty of conscience as anything. But to even go beyond this and attempt to craft for Muslims the boundaries of what is a "wanted" versus an "unwanted" religious faith is to make a total mockery of the very idea of religious liberty and equal citizenship. It is this, more than any possible terrorist attack, that poses a threat to American democracy of truly Trumpian proportions!"

“The Paradoxes of Islamophobia and the Future of the World,” Introduction to The Essential Message of Islam by Muhammad Yunus and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, (Beltsville, Md: Amana Publications, 2009).


EXCERPT: "...In some regards, Islam-hating and Islamophobia is fairly unremarkable because like all prejudices, it is rationalized from a defensive posture and it thrives in a fertile ground of misinformation and ignorance.  But what is remarkable about this particular form of prejudice and bigotry is that despite its deep roots in history—although it was exploited in the past to rationalize and incite numerous acts of aggression and violence and although it continues to do so today, there is remarkable resistance in the West to acknowledging its existence or to coming to terms with the crimes committed because of it, leave alone to attempt to atone for its consequences.  A person who openly advocates racism, for instance, or anti-Semitism will be seen as a pariah and an outlier to mainstream society.  No mainstream publisher or media outlet will broadcast speech that is openly racist or anti-Semitic not because these social ills do not exist.  They do exist!  But there are social processes that shame, ostracize and hold accountable those who blatantly indulge these pathologies.  The same is not true for those Islam or Muslim-haters.  For example, intellectuals and policy makers are admirably frank about studying, admitting, and atoning for the Western legacy of anti-Semitism.  Studies that document and analyze the pathology of anti-Semitism have emerged into a sophisticated critical discipline, and no serious intellectual would question whether anti-Semitism has been a recurring form of prejudice and bigotry in Western history.  Logically, however, if one admits that anti-Semitism is a widespread social pathology that must be resisted and not encouraged, it would seem to follow that substantially the same position should be adopted in regards to anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia.  Put simply, one can hardly imagine any place or time in Europe where Jews were persecuted while Muslims were tolerated.  Without exception, any time Jews were the target of persecution in Western history, this persecution included the archetypal representative of Islam of the time—whether that archetype was the Turk, Arab, Saracen, Morisco, or the Mohammedan.  Moreover, as is well illustrated by the complex and problematic notion of a Judeo-Christian culture or civilization, the history of Jews in the West was a complex one—it ebbed and flowed and went back and forth between begrudging tolerance to outright persecution to eventual efforts at reconciliation and, at times, to atonement as in the Western guilt-ridden support for the Zionist movement.  But the history of Muslims in the West has consistently ranged from slaughter to begrudging tolerance to extermination and eventually to total and unequivocal hegemony and domination. 


"My point is that if examined from a historical logic, the reluctance, dead-silence, and quiet avoidance that confronts the Muslim victims of religious persecution in the West and that confronts researchers in the pathology of Islamophobia and Islam-hating is itself a shocking manifestation of the pathology.  What is rather symptomatic of the deeply engrained prejudice is the continuous effort to justify Muslim suffering as an unfortunate but necessary cost for security, or to understate and minimize the existence of actual concrete and harmful results to the existence of such a prejudice.  An example of this is the insistence on the part of some that the use of torture against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere is not linked to deeply rooted prejudices as to the ego, pride, sexuality, religiosity, and body of a Muslim man or woman.  Another common tactic that is actually symptomatic of the deep entrenchment of the problem is to admit that anti-Muslim prejudice exists but to minimize it as a passing condition instead of a pathology with a stubbornly persistent history, or to dilute its particularity and distinctiveness by dismissively equating it to other prejudices and biases minorities suffered, and that in due time, defeated.  The relatively muted response of the intelligentsia in the West at the widespread occurrence of civil rights violations against Muslims in the West, and also in reaction to the documented humanitarian violations and war crimes inflicted upon Muslims in several countries and contexts in the name of the war on terror is again a strong indication of the de-sensitization and suppressed consciousness of the West towards the presence and wrongfulness of anti-Muslim prejudices.  Sadly, the West has managed to confront many of the demons of its history, but its fear of Muslims and hate of Islam is one demon that has proven too powerful to confront..."