Washington, D.C. – As more details emerge about the background of the anti-Islam video sparking outrage and protests against U.S. embassies in the Middle East, which tragically resulted in the deaths of four American diplomats alongside a number of Libyan defenders last week, the Center for American Progress today released “Anti-Islam Zealots Undermine American Values.” This column acknowledges that it is important to place blame for the riots on the rioters and those exploiting the video to incite violence, and discusses the ideology behind the video and its connection to the broader Islamophobia network in the United States.
According to recent news reports, the anti-Islam video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” at the center of the protest was produced by the Christian nonprofit Media for Christ, run by Joseph Abdelmasih also known as Joseph Nasrallah. On the 2010 anniversary of the September 11 attacks, he spoke at a rally near Ground Zero organized by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both major figures in the Islamophobia network as detailed in the Center for American Progress’s 2011 report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”
“I come from Egypt,” Nasrallah told the crowd. “Egypt was Coptic, was Christians, from one thousand four hundred years, Islamic [sic] conquered our country with their lies!” The Muslims are coming,” Nasrallah continued. “They’re using taqiya” (an Arabic term describing an Islamic concept of dissimulation or deception to avoid religious persecution). “They are using deceiving. They are lying against Pamela Geller, they are lying against Robert Spencer. They are lying lying lying!”
What all of these activists share is a belief that the Islamic faith and Western culture are irreconcilable, and that conflict between the two is inevitable. Rather than a place for religious worship, they see mosques as beachheads for an invading army, and American Muslims as potential sleeper agents, willing to use any deception to transform America into an Islamic state. In addition to threatening to marginalize and alienate a growing sector of Americans, the vast majority of whom are deeply committed to American values and ideals, these false and offensive ideas communicate to the world’s Muslims that America is against them, and affirm the rhetoric of radical extremists who claim there can be no peace between Islam and the West.
Sadly, too many mainstream conservatives in our country cavort with members of the Islamophobia network in the United States such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney and others, lending credence to their paranoid rants and encouragement to the likes of Steve Klein and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who produced and promoted a video designed to spark violent reaction. Such ugly propaganda and its creators should be strongly condemned alongside those who manipulated the situation for their own political ends in the Middle East. So too should the supporters of Islamophobia who create a breeding ground for hate by denigrating one of the world’s great religions and insult the sacrifice of our military and diplomatic corps by violating America’s core value of religious tolerance.
To speak to author Matthew Duss, Policy Analyst and Director of Middle East Progress, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or gro.ssergorpnacirema@elauqsapidc.