United States of Islamophobia?

Posted on September 1, 2010

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Arsalan Iftikar, CNN

Editor’s note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

(CNN) — Almost everybody has heard about the protests against the mosque and Islamic center planned to be built about two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan. But most people are still unaware that these anti-Muslim political campaigns are spreading throughout our beloved country as a new wave of Islamophobia hits.

Debate over the Islamic center has become ridiculously absurd. An ad objecting to the mosque depicts a plane flying toward the World Trade Center’s towers as they burn on the left, with a rendering of the center on the right, and is set to run in New York buses.

Far away from New York, some right-wing Republican political candidates in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision and hundreds of angry protesters have subsequently turned out for a march and a county meeting on the matter.

A few months back, members of a tea party group in Temecula, California, took barking dogs and anti-Muslim picket signs to Friday prayers at a neighborhood mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby. A few Christian ministers in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health-food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

More recently, American Muslim leaders in Bridgeport, Connecticut, eventually had to ask police and elected officials for security so they could worship in peace after an angry mob protested outside a mosque.

About a dozen members of a Texas-based group self-righteously calling itself “Operation Save America” confronted other peaceful American worshippers at the Masjid An-Noor mosque a few weeks ago; yelling what mosque members described as “hate-filled slogans” against Muslims.

Simply put, Islamophobia has become ridiculously out of hand. For those who argue that mosques are somehow inherently breeding grounds for extremism, a two-year joint study by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina concluded that American “mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism.”

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