Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
War of the Worlds:
NPR Forum of Islamophobes
By Timothy Stinson
ccun.org, March 16, 2009
In late February, Bob Garfield of NPR'S On The Media (segment of NPR
which is supposedly designed to criticize America's news media) hosted a
discussion on criticism of Islam and
free speech titled "War of the
During this segment, he and his guests debate the rights
of those who are often hostile toward Islam to do so under the banner of
What is perhaps most telling in this forum is that
not only was he willing to use biased sources (short audio clips from
anti-Muslim productions) to validate demonization of Muslims, some
his statements were outright lies such as those concerning anti-Jewish and
Christian documentation in the books of Palestinian school children.
Also telling is the fact that this is not
Mr. Garfield's first time
hosting a program defending the demonization of Islam, and that NPR has
yet to host a discussion of the overwhelmingly negative images (and
opinions) of Muslims
which permeate not only American media, but also
influence foreign and domestic policy discussions in this country (look no
further than the 2008 Presidential elections or reasons why
support military intervention in the Middle East).
confronted by a listener on his assertion that Palestinian school children
were taught that Jews were apes and pigs, he admitted on the next week's
show that he could find nothing to
confirm this assertion however,
he went on to state that this was taught in Arab school books. What
makes this statement remarkable is that, this has also been challenged.
In neither case (statements on schoolbooks for Palestinian or
Arab children) did Garfield quote his sources for these statements.
Ironically, Mr. Garfield has openly denounced the role that media played
in fomenting hostility between Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda.
War of the Worlds
Earlier this month, right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders was
denied entry into the United Kingdom to screen his controversial film
about Islam. The British government's decision sparked the ongoing debate
about free speech, xenophobia, and a clash of cultures when it comes to
Muslim immigrants in western societies. In a piece that aired last April,
Bob talked with some of the main
players in the struggle to define the future of
free speech in Europe.
Houdaiby, like Danish imam Chendid, takes pains to distinguish between
free speech and insults, which he says are inexcusable. This prompts me to
inquire about a double standard: What of the insults routinely hurled by
Muslim clerics, politicians and mobs towards Christians and Jews?
What does he think, for instance, of Palestinian schoolchildren being
taught that Jews are apes and pigs?
Houdaiby's response is to
differentiate between insult and expression of legitimate grievances.
story of hatred being taught in Arab textbooks has been widely
disseminated by an alliance of American based neoconservatives and
conservative Christian organizations and individuals
such as those
Nina Shea is probably one of Bob Garfield's sources
for his statements on Islam and Palestinians.
Like many neoconservatives, Shea has been sharply
critical of Islam, often painting the religious group in broad strokes
that fail to account for its many divergent tendencies. In 2005, for
example, her Center for Religious Freedom published "Saudi Publications on
Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques," an 89-page study of some 200
documents allegedly "disseminated, published, or otherwise generated by
the government of Saudi Arabia and collected from more than a dozen
mosques in the United States." The study concludes that a "totalitarian
ideology of hatred" is being "mainstreamed within our borders through the
efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia."
Evangelical Roots of American Unilateralism: The Christian Right's
Influence and How to Counter It
Links with neoconservatives have
also been forged around the issue of religious persecution. Michael
Horowitz, a neoconservative senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and
Nina Shea of the Puebla Institute, were instrumental in mobilizing
evangelicals around the issue of religious persecution.
Elliott Abrams, then head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote
extensively supporting the cause and, along with Nina Shea, was later
appointed to the commission created by the International Religious Freedom
Act of 1998, eventually serving as its chair.
Abrams has moved on to human rights and Middle East policy positions at
the National Security Council.
From the Edge: Africa: The Right’s Stuff
Force has always been
central to the neoconservative view of the world. During the 1980s, Abrams
helped organize the contra war against the Sandinista government of
Nicaragua, and took part in the cover up of the horrendous El Mazote
massacre in El Salvador by a U.S.-trained government battalion.
Abrams’ vice-chair on the CIRF was Nina Shea of Freedom House, an
organization with a long rap sheet on destabilizing countries, including
recently attempting to dislodge Hugo Chavez’s in Venezuela. Shea
founded the Puebla Institute in 1986 to fight the growth of liberation
theology in Latin America and, according to former Contra leader, Edward
Chamorro, worked with the groups trying to overthrow Nicaragua’s
Sandinista government. Like Abrams, Shea focuses on the issue of religion
rather than human rights. According to Newsweek Magazine, Shea made
“Christian persecution Washington’s hottest topic.”
Vatican joins the war on Islam
"Intellectual warriors against
Islam have taken heart from the Vatican’s direct attack on the concepts of
Islam. It is an opportunity for them to give air to their agenda and
promote their objectives of demonizing Islam."
Nina Shea, whose
organization, Freedom House, can assess freedoms elsewhere but in the US,
takes advantage of the opening of new front by Vatican by attempting to
present Islam as the ever growing threat to the Western world. “Before
1990s,” Ms. Shea said, “the biggest persecutors of Christians were
communists countries.” With the fall of communism, majority of the Western
analysts targeted Islam and the results are before our eyes today. No
satisfied with the US progress against Islam on both the intellectual and
practice fronts, Nina Shea concludes, “we are still very naïve…we need to
A dangerous obsession
neo-conservative members of the board include Center for Security Policy
(CSP) president Frank Gaffney; former Central Intelligence Agency chief
James Woolsey; and Heritage Foundation fellows Ariel Cohen and Nina Shea,
who has served for years on the quasi-governmental US Commission for
International Religious Freedom.
Wahhabis Are Coming! An AEI Fear & Smear Production 2/16/2005
should use "Hard Power" to Curb Wahhabi Texts
Nina Shea from the
Center for Religious Freedom admitted that the study did not attempt to
"assess the impact" of religious texts in American mosques. She then
proceeded to read a laundry list of extracts from Saudi subsidized texts
warning Muslims not to take citizenship in the US, to reject the ways of
"infidels" and then excoriated the hubris of self-appointed religious
Saudi Wahhabi authorities ruling on proper ways of Muslims.
Hedieh Mirahmadi, now an AEI scholar, reclaimed her past Muslim
credentials as having raised money for Islamic charities before
proceeding. Her most damning assertion was that the Wahhabi
texts distributed to US mosques were a "crude manipulation of text,
designed to exert control over otherwise diverse" and peaceful
populations. Her final recommendation was the most hawkish of all
the panel: The US should use "hard power" to confront the Saudi ruling
family which should then somehow "undo" years of "propagandizing" in the
US and around the world.
Some members of the audience posing
questions to the panel objected to the "MEMRI"
approach of the research. There was no statistical sample, and no
quantitative data. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
in Washington, DC practically invented the game of selective retrieval,
whereby after sifting mountains of data, objectionable texts can be
extracted and translated to place their authors in the worst possible
light. Others were perplexed by the lack of any sort of damage
assessment. If the alleged "hate literature" distribution has been
going on for decades in America, what were all of the negative
consequences? The panel was unable to provide answers.
Foe of Islam Goes to Washington
The fiercely anti-Islam Dutch MP
Geert Wilders traveled through the United States recently on a highly
publicized trip to meet with politicians, promote his controversial film
Fitna, and raise money for his legal defense back home.
Wilders’ stated goal was to campaign for free speech, his trip was
sponsored and promoted by an unlikely coalition of groups united primarily
by hostility towards Islam. His backers included neoconservatives and a
right-wing Jewish group on the one hand and figures with ties to the
European far Right on the other.
Since he was charged with
incitement to hate and discrimination in the Netherlands this January and
subsequently denied entry to Britain in early February on public safety
grounds, Wilders has become something of a cause celebre for the U.S.
Last week, he gave a private viewing of his 17-minute
anti-Islam film to the U.S. Senate, where he was hosted by Senator
(R-AZ). He also appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s and Glenn Beck’s popular
right-wing TV shows, met privately with the Wall Street Journal editorial
board, and hobnobbed with former U.N. ambassador
at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Friday, he capped his busy week with an appearance at the National Press
Club. At the event, he reiterated his calls for a halt to immigration from
Muslim countries and pronounced, to raucous applause, that "our Western
culture based on Christianity, Judaism, and humanism is in every aspect
better than Islamic culture."
Wilders is also known for
campaigning to ban the Koran, Islamic attire, and Islamic schools from the
Netherlands, and for proclaiming that "moderate Islam does not exist."
documentation on Islamophobia in the U.S, FAIR's (Fairness and Accuracy In
Reporting) web site is a good resource.
Smearcasting documents the public writings and
appearances of Islamophobic activists and pundits who intentionally and
regularly spread fear, bigotry and misinformation in the media. Offering a
fresh look at Islamophobia and its perpetrators in today’s media, it also
provides four snapshots, or case studies, describing how Islamophobes
manipulate media in order to paint Muslims with a broad, hateful brush.