Inside the Big Money Movement to Fund Islamophobia In America

A recent report was published by the Council of American Islamic Relation (CAIR), titled “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States," providing an in-depth insight into groups and individuals that have thrived monetarily from their outspoken anti-Islam and anti-Muslim fear mongering.  

CAIR's revelations strongly assert an organized effort to promote fear of Islam and Muslims in the US. More importantly, it indicates an industry of sorts that has become a financial goldmine for individuals and institutions alike. Combined with previous research, the report is a worrying prospect for American Muslims who have become a target of heinous propaganda that has seemingly become mainstream.

One of the key findings of the research alleges that “anti-Islam groups received more than $119 million in funding between 2008 and 2011.” Furthermore, the report asserts that many of these prolific anti-Islam groups are “tightly linked” and some of the “top players” receive huge paychecks. The founder of Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer, a renowned anti-Islam scholar, is said to have received a salary of more than $150,000, while the organization’s revenues in the year 2012 were over $200,000.

In an investigative paper published in 2011 and titled “Fear Inc.,” the Center of American Progress (CAP) reveals a detailed list of donors that help support think tanks that perpetrate misinformation about Muslims and Islam. One such think tank is the Middle East Forum (MEF), lead by academic and scholar Daniel Pipes. In 2009, the MEF is said to have received funding of nearly $6 million.

Pipes and his anti-Muslim hyperbole are well known. In the aftermath of Pastor Terry Jones’s unsuccessful plan to burn copies of the Koran in 2010, he quipped the following about the President Obama:  “Mr. Obama, in effect, enforced Islamic law, a precedent that could lead to other forms of compulsory Shariah compliance.”

The CAP report suggests that The Clarion Fund, identified by CAP as an anti-Islam group, received a staggering $17 million from one source in 2008. The Clarion Fund had released a DVD titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which was distributed “to more than 28 million swing-state voters before the 2008 presidential election”. Furthermore, the paper quotes Tom Trento, who was involved in distributing the DVD, claiming that it was “the single most powerful piece of media over the past five years in persuading average Americans to the Islamist threat”.

The CAIR finding also indicts politicians for their anti-Muslim initiatives. The finding recounts Republican politician Michelle Bachmann for accusing Muslim public officials in government for being backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a fallacious charge that was never proven. In the aftermath of the Boston Bombings, GOP member Peter King suggested that all Muslims should be put under surveillance.

Based on these events, CAIR suggests that this form of “Islamaphobic rhetoric” has now become conventional in public discourse. It quotes a 2011 research which stated, “Citizens are quite comfortable not only opposing [extending citizenship to legal Muslim immigrants], but also being public about that fact”.

American Muslims have come under the knife ever since the tragic events of 9/11. Unfortunately, a merry band of opportunists have sought to profit by projecting a bogus threat posed by Islam and it’s so called “radical” adherents. While the CAIR findings do suggest a slight dip in their influence, their bigoted narrative continues to remain rife in most public forums.

For further discussion, reach me on Twitter @UsaidMuneeb16

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Usaid (Muneeb) Siddiqui

Completed my MA in International Relations from University of Sussex and a BSc from University of Toronto. Interested in Current Affairs with a focus on Pakistan, the Middle East and Religion. Currently living in Toronto, Canada. Follow me on Twitter @UsaidMuneeb16

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