The Roots of Islamophobia
In his book The New Crusades: Islamophobia and the Global War on Muslims (University of California Press) Khaled A Beydoun traces the rise of modern Islamophobia to its roots in American foreign policy and how it has inspired government policy around the world since before the so-called benchmark of “9/11” and George Bush’s call for a new crusade. Beydoun shows how a deep-rooted mistrust of Islam has informed American foreign policy since the 1990s.
“The Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel P. Hutchinson, published in the magazine Foreign Policy in the 1970s, posited that Islamic fundamentalism isn’t the problem, but rather Islam itself is the problem. His theory is that while Islam is convinced of its infallibility, it’s insecure because it lacks the power to convince others of this truth. What Hutchinson leaves unsaid is that Christianity has had both the conviction and the power to impose its beliefs on the rest of the world since the first Crusades.
What after all were the first rounds of Crusades back in the early part of the Common Era but Christianity trying to impose its will upon a part of the world it had never ruled? So the roots of Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, can actually be traced back to 1100CE or earlier.
However, Beydoun is concerned with the contemporary world and how Islamophobia is being expressed from France to China, India, Malaysia, the UK and of course North America – everywhere, actually, outside of so-called Muslim countries.
Instead of merely telling us about the various policies governments have enacted that directly or indirectly impact a regions Muslim population, although he does detail those, Beydoun brings home the reality of the situation by interviewing individuals whose lives have been directly impacted by these laws and governments.
From people having to pray in secret in China for fear of being shipped off to so called re-education camps, to Muslims living under the rule of Modhi in India seeing their rights being gradually stripped from them, we hear from individuals whose lives are being devastated and debased by Islamophobia in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
Beydoun isn’t just some guy off the street spouting theories. He’s a law professor at Wayne State University, scholar in residence at the Berkman-Klien Centre at Harvard University, and Associate Director of the Damon J. Kieth Centre for Civil Rights in Detroit. His academic work has been featured in the UCLA Law Review, the California Law Review, and the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Review. His research is impeccable and his sources are unimpeachable.
However, don’t be afraid of reading this book. For in spite of his academic and legal qualifications his writing is wonderfully accessible. Each story he relates, each person’s life he captures, leaps off the page. We can’t help but feel their pain and share their anguish. You can’t help but ask yourself how can a world let this suffering exist?
The New Crusades: Islamophobia and the Global War on Muslims by Khaled A Beydoun is a powerful and telling story of how the world is being divided along religious lines by unscrupulous and manipulative people. It is a timely and needful warning we would all be smart to heed.