‘Fanning the Flames’ Proves West’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry
By Sajjad Shaukat
A report of the watchdog groups entitled ‘Fanning the Flames’, published by the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) on October 31, 2019 provided facts-based evidence regarding complicity of major technological platforms and US corporations in promoting ‘white supremacy’, anti-Muslim’ bigotry and violence across the world.
In fact, after the orchestrated drama of the September 11 tragedy inside the United States, American President George W. Bush and neo-conservatives crossed all the limits in protecting the political, economic and religious interests of the Zionist Jews and Israel at the cost of Muslims and patriot Americans. Just after the 9/11 catastrophe, statements of Bush, high officials of his administration and Zionist-controlled media deliberately developed chauvinism and extremism among the Americans. There had been an organised campaign against the Muslims in the US and other Western countries. Its main themes were that Islam and the Muslims were the true cause of terrorism.
During the drastic aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy in wake of the US-led fake global war on terror which still continues, Western politicians have introduced dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by equating the “war on terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda and ISIS with all the Muslims. Their media have also been contributing to heighten the currents of global politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam. Owing to these reasons, far right-wing parties and “Stop Islam” movement in the West, particularly in Europe has been becoming popular by largely attracting their people. Right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.
Both India and Israel which joined the American war against terrorism, have been equating the ‘wars of liberation’ in Palestine and Kashmir with terrorism. Their main purpose is to divert the attention of the West from their own state terrorism, while employing delaying tactics in the solution of these issues.
While exaggerating the so-called threat of Islamophobia, the US-led Western countries ignored the Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Israeli fundamentalist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have continued fanatic policies against the Muslims.
As regards the anti-Muslim policy of the UK, on January 18, 2015, while singling out only Muslim women, British Prime Minister David Cameron had announced that Muslim women who fail to learn English to a high enough standard could face deportation from Britain. He also suggested that poor English skills can leave people “more susceptible to the messages of groups like Islamic State (IS).” His biased statement was firmly criticized by the Muslim MPs and some members of his own party.
Similarly, on September 4, this year, in his first Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson came under fire when Opposition Member of Parliament Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who is Sikh and wears a turban, demanded that the prime minister apologize for comments about Muslim women in a newspaper column in August 2018 in which Johnson wrote that women who wear the burka look like “bank robbers” and “letter boxes.”
Dhesi elaborated: “For those of us who from a young age have had to endure and put up with being called names such as towelhead or Taliban or coming from Bongo-Bongo Land, we can appreciate the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women…when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks…which have led to a spike in hate crime?” He also asked when the Prime Minister would order an inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party”.
In this respect, the monitoring organisation Tell Mama found that the number of incidents of anti-Muslim hate crime rose by 375% in the week after Johnson compared Muslim women who wear burqas to bank robbers and letterboxes.
However, the report which was published by the ACR E’s Crescendo Project in partnership with the Public Accountability Initiative stated: “Corporations with global reach in the tech, finance, and media sectors especially have reliably resourced anti-Muslim individuals and groups both domestically and internationally and have created the infrastructure for anti-Muslim messages and bigotry to spread and thrive”.
The paper mentioned the companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, iHeartMedia and Sinclair Broadcast Group “the unindicted co-conspirators of the Christchurch shooter,” who massacred 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March.
According to the report and revelations of the ACRE’s co-executive director Saqib Bhatti: “Anti-Muslim bigotry is on the rise because corporations like Google, Amazon and Fidelity have decided they are OK with white supremacy and anti-Muslim bigotry as long as they can make money out of it…Wall Street firms including Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Goldman Sachs have funneled millions of dollars to anti-Muslim hate groups. The biggest media culprit in spreading anti-Muslim bigotry is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp–the corporation that owns Fox News, the New York Post, and many other right-wing media outlets in the US and abroad.…The Guardian reports that News Corp outlets in Australia have served to demonize Muslims and normalize white nationalist talking points. This is important, because the Christchurch shooter is an Australian national who had recently moved to New Zealand, Following the shooting, News Corp’s Sky News Australia aired footage from the shooter’s livestream of the attacks, even though New Zealand authorities and Muslim community leaders had discouraged people from sharing the video out of concern that it could inspire copycat attacks….But these corporations [and]…Social media platforms…weaponize the idea of neutrality, and they hide behind it. Making money off letting white supremacists organize, fundraise, recruit and strategize is not neutral. As such, these corporations all have blood on their hands…Researchers found that major tech platforms have not only “provided a space for unsafe actors…their search and recommendation algorithms also enabled white supremacist and bigoted propaganda to spread further”.
The report said: “While the Christchurch shooter’s Facebook Live stream of his massacre was removed, platforms including Twitter, Reddit and YouTube were ineffective in removing duplicates of the video. Their algorithms, which feed users similar content and experts say has become a tool to gradually radicalize users, further ensured that more and more eyes viewed the footage…these tech platforms have not created strategies to eliminate anti-Muslim bigotry from their sites…researchers wrote, pointing to tech companies’ 2017 cooperation in creating tools to remove ISIS propaganda from their platforms as well as their success in removing copyright-infringing material and images of child sexual abuse”.
The report disclosed: “Twitter, too, has been reluctant to clamp down on white supremacist content and “has made a deliberate decision to help normalize anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry by willingly serving as [President Donald] Trump’s megaphone”.
In its key findings the report again stated: “The Christchurch mosque shootings provide clear evidence…the rise of white nationalism…On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist walked into two different mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and started shooting. He killed 50 Muslims and injured another 50, and livestreamed the gruesome attacks on Facebook Live. He prefaced the attacks with a 73-page manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement”, which he emailed out to various public officials and media outlets immediately before he entered the first mosque. The manifesto was littered with white supremacist rhetoric, anti-immigrant conspiracy theories, and neo-Nazi symbols. In the manifesto, the shooter specifically cited Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose…The election of Trump marked new heights for a burgeoning authoritarian, xenophobic worldwide movement that threatens peace, democracy, and human lives all over the globe. Trump joined the ranks of other authoritarian heads of state like Viktor Orbán in Hungary,Narendra Modi in India, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines that have built administrations based on fear, corruption, and xenophobic hate to make way for sweeping undemocratic policies that concentrate political power. Trump has focused specifically on anti-Muslim bigotry, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign and enacting the first version of the Muslim ban during his first full week in office….the number of hate groups in the United States grew by 30% over the past four years…crimes in the United States have skyrocketed during his Presidency. In fact, researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom have found a direct correlation between Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets and spikes in hate crimes targeting Muslims”.
Notably, in June, this year, ACRE published a report, pointing out almost 50 US corporations which were engaged in anti-Muslim behavior, facilitating anti-Muslim bigotry. It was in accordance with the June-report of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which found that over 1,000 mainstream philanthropic foundations have unwittingly funneled almost $125 million into dozens of anti-Muslim groups from 2014 to 2016. An alliance of Boston-area civil rights groups also launched the Unmasking Fidelity campaign, pushing the Boston-based Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund to make groups involved in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT discrimination ineligible to receive donor-advised contribution.
It of particular attention that taking cognizance of the West’s anti-Muslim bigotry, the emergency meeting of Executive Committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), convened in Istanbul, on March 23, 2019, strongly condemned the “horrendous and despicable Islamophobic terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand”, and urged the UN Secretary General to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly to declare Islamophobia as a form of racism and to assign a special rapporteur for monitoring and combating the menace in the Western countries.
It is mentionable that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was on seven-day visit to the New York City in connection with the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened on September 24, 2019. In his interaction with the US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media, and meetings with the US President Donald Trump and world’s other leaders, he briefed them on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Kashmir valley. And during his speech at the UNGA, Imran reiterated the drastic implications of the lockdown in Kashmir, including dimensions of the Islamophobia and some other issues the world is facing.
In his address at the UN General Assembly, P.M. Imran Khan said: “Illegally, they [India] revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status…they put eight million people under curfew…what RSS is. Modi is a life member [of RSS]…It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race…They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination…What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?….What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck…Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms…Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam….You are forcing people into radicalization…Two nuclear countries will come face to face. If a conventional war starts between the two countries…This is a test of the UN…This is the time not to appease but to take action…Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab [Scarf] is becoming a weapon; a woman can take off clothes but she can’t put on more clothes…It started after 9/11 and it started because certain western leaders equated Islam with terrorism…There is only one Islam….What message does this [the term] send? How is a person in New York going to distinguish between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims?…This radical Islamic terrorism used by leaders has caused Islamophobia and has caused pain for Muslims…In European countries it is marginalising Muslims, and this leads to radicalisation…The basis of all religions is compassion and justice which differentiates us from the animal kingdom…religion [Islam] was viewed differently in the west, which was why the reaction in the Muslim world to content maligning Islamic personalities was not understood… The holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it gives them [Jews] pain…That’s all we ask. Don’t use freedom of speech to cause us pain”.
It is noteworthy that in a speech to university students and teachers in the capital, Baku, President of Azerbaijan stated on November 26, this year: “Azerbaijan won’t seek closer integration with Europe…which is discriminating against Muslims and undermining my country’s traditional values…Shall we integrate with those who are saying ‘Stop Islam?”
We can conclude that if not checked in time by the peace-loving Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists, the US-led West’s anti-Muslim bigotry will bring about a major war between the Muslim and the Christian worlds, which will convert the entire world into holocaust.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations