Pam Geller Lies: 5 Persistent Myths About Muslims

A recent study by the Washington, D.C.,-based Muslim Public Affairs Council ( MPAC) has shown that many of the “experts” on Islam who try to interpret the religion for others are not qualified to do so. In fact, just one out of every 25 experts is qualified. This begs the question, who speaks for Islam and how should we deal with misinformation campaigns?

The cottage industry of “experts” Islam is growing and many of those claiming to be “experts” are anything but that. I argue for caution before accepting anyone as an expert, and for checking their credentials before taking their word for granted.

The report adds: 

"In the past few months, many of the individuals profiled in the study have appeared in mainstream media and political circles, where their inaccurate information and commentaries have been used by politicians such as Rep.Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Some have also been cited by convicted terrorists, such as Anders Breivik of Norway."

Pat Roberston’s recent rant, where he gave advice to a caller to “move to Saudi Arabia, so you can beat your wife,” is yet another example of hate-speech and fear mongering. How can someone who is a public leader and a responsible figure make such a callous and ignorant statement?

The MPAC report lists people such as Pamela Geller, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Zuhdi Jasser and a total of 25 self-styled “experts” on Islam, who obviously have the credentials nor the background to speak authoritatively about Islam or Muslim issues. So, what is wrong if they speak? And what falsehoods are they perpetuating?

Here is my a list of top five ideas about Islam and Muslims which are wrong and misleading:

1. All Muslims are bent on dominating the world, and hence are not to be trusted. This stems from a gross extrapolation of fears and misconceptions of Muslims as Jihadists just because a few individuals indulge in acts of violence. On a lighter note, watch The Colbert Report's take on this issue. 

2. All Muslim leaders are representative of the Muslim Brotherhood. I see this happen repeatedly. Pamela Geller and others like her repeatedly link every organization imaginable with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is seriously beyond ridiculous, and actually laughable.

3. All Muslims are perfectly familiar with all tenets of Islam. Certainly not true, as more than 50% of American Muslims don’t attend mosque service regularly.

4. All things Islamic are oppressive towards women. While societies such as Saudi Arabia can be very restrictive toward women, a large portion of the Muslim world has laws and social norms geared toward protecting women and their rights. Even Pakistan has had a female Prime Minister, as does Bangladesh. Let's get real, now. 

5. All Muslim men have four wives and are promiscuous. I have yet to meet one Muslim man who has more than one wife, and publicly acknowledges it. And this is after having lived for 26 years in India, over two years in the Middle East, and three years in the U.S.

It is about time that these false experts are exposed for what they are, before they do more damage to civil society and civic discourse.

While freedom of speech is certainly a value one cannot snuff out with violence, one must also remember the difference between this freedom and hate-speech.

Besides, freedom comes with responsibility. And unfortunately, many of these hate-mongers don’t seem to recognize this fact.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

MORE FROM

‘The Vampire Diaries’ ending could be what saves ‘The Originals’

The end of 'The Vampire Diaries' could mean a new beginning for 'The Originals.'

Let’s needlessly overthink these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “Stormborn”

Sam's still at the Citadel, looking miserable.

BBC just shut down every misogynist mad about a female Doctor Who

The Doctor was always destined to become a woman.

Noah Hawley is a busy man. Here’s a running list of everything he’s working on.

I hope he finds time to, like, sleep and be with family.

19 must-see panels and events at San Diego Comic-Con this year

Comic-Con can be overwhelming. This list will give you the highlights.

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’ looks like ‘Okja’ with fish-people

A trailer for Guillermo del Toro's next movie touches on animal rights themes.

‘The Vampire Diaries’ ending could be what saves ‘The Originals’

The end of 'The Vampire Diaries' could mean a new beginning for 'The Originals.'

Let’s needlessly overthink these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “Stormborn”

Sam's still at the Citadel, looking miserable.

BBC just shut down every misogynist mad about a female Doctor Who

The Doctor was always destined to become a woman.

Noah Hawley is a busy man. Here’s a running list of everything he’s working on.

I hope he finds time to, like, sleep and be with family.

19 must-see panels and events at San Diego Comic-Con this year

Comic-Con can be overwhelming. This list will give you the highlights.

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’ looks like ‘Okja’ with fish-people

A trailer for Guillermo del Toro's next movie touches on animal rights themes.