Reading accounts of the far-right English Defense League’s (EDL) recent anti-Muslim rally in Bradford, England is disturbing. EDL members, shouting slogans that state that Allah is a “pedophile” and that they “love the floods” currently devastating Pakistan, clashed with riot police during a rally held last Saturday in a city with a significant Muslim presence.
More disturbingly, recent events here don’t seem to be far from what Muslims in England have experienced. And no one in power is doing anything to stop it.
Islamophobic attitudes are rampant in both Europe and the United States. A recent TIME magazine poll found “that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President.”
Public expressions of hate against Muslims is on the rise. In Connecticut, as Hailey Woldt, who worked as a researcher to find out “what it meant to be Muslim in post-9/11 America,” highlighted, “a group of children leaving a Bridgeport, Connecticut mosque last week, as reported by the Connecticut Post, had to brace themselves as they walked past a group of about a dozen Christian protestors yelling ‘Islam is a lie’ and ‘Jesus hates Muslims.’” During the August 22 rally near Ground Zero, anti-community center protesters surrounded a black man, apparently thinking he was Muslim, and forcefully confronted him. A fire at a Tennessee mosque was ruled to be an arson, and there were reports of gunshots being fired nearby. Today, Talking Points Memo highlights how the armed group the Minutemen are now taking up the anti-Muslim mantle, warning of border-crossing terrorists. And we can’t forget the stabbing of Ahmed Sharif, a Muslim cabdriver in New York City.
The Islamophobic thread running through Europe and the United States doesn’t end there, and Israel/Palestine plays an important role. Pamela Geller, the far-right anti-Muslim blogger who is leading the anti-Muslim crusade here, has defended and made common cause with the EDL, as Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball reported.
Far-right groups keen on using violence, implicitly or overtly, are not new to the United States. The real danger today lies in the spinelessness of American politicians, who are aiding the hate or tacitly sitting by while attacks against Muslims continue. And it also lies in the complicity of some American Jews, like the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and neo-conservatives like William Kristol, who are strong supporters of Israel and have come out against the Islamic community center near Ground Zero because, as MJ Rosenberg put it, “they believe that the more acceptance there is of Muslims here at home, the less reflexive hatred there will be for Muslims abroad. And that, in their view, reduces America’s sympathy for Israel.”
The horror that Muslim children in Bridgeport, CT felt when protesters shouted “Jesus hates Muslims” at them; the fear of the Muslim community in Tennessee after a fire at a mosque and reported gunshots; the blood that gushed from Ahmed Sharif; all of these incidents are not operating in a vacuum. Expect similar stories in the future, though–our politicians are aiding and abetting this dangerous trend.