Please consider the following commentary for publication.
One of the bigoted themes often promoted by the growing cottage industry of Muslim-bashers is that the increasing level of Islamophobia online and in the public arena is merely a legitimate response to the violent actions of Muslims worldwide.
These Islamophobes scour the Internet to highlight every act of violence or political instability that can be tied to Islam and Muslims.
If a Muslim in a remote village in Pakistan violates Islamic beliefs by abusing his wife, we will hear about it and about why Islam should be blamed for his actions. Reports on every crime committed by a Muslim are assigned to the faith, whether or not there is even a remote religious connection.
This leads to a collective "mental list" of outrages committed by Muslims that is used to justify Islamophobia and suspicion of Muslims.
The list grows with each new crime or act of violence committed by a Muslim anywhere in the world.
For example, when Muhammad Ahmad Ali was recently stopped for speeding in Ohio and some 50 bombs and four guns were found in his vehicle, that was added to the list.
And when chemicals, fuses, guns, bomb-making materials, and how-to manuals with titles such as "Boobytraps," "Deadly Brew," and "Highly Explosive Pyrotechnic Compositions" were found recently in the Maryland home of Omar Ahmed Muhammad, that too was added to the list.
Never heard of these cases? Perhaps that is because they involved not the stereotypical pseudonyms used above, but instead involved individuals named Andrew Scott Boguslawski and Todd Dwight Wheeler Jr., who are apparently not Muslim.
We all know about and condemn the Boston Marathon bombings, but how about the bomb targeting the route of a Spokane, Wash., Martin Luther King Day march? That bomb was packed with fishing weights coated with an active ingredient in rat poison.
How about the plot to kidnap or kill Alaska state troopers and a Fairbanks judge? The plans included "extensive surveillance" on the homes of two Fairbanks troopers.
Never heard of these incidents in which no Muslims were involved? You are not alone.
Does anyone truly believe that anyone anywhere would remain unaware of these cases if it had been Muslims who were charged?
That is the problem with the "list," it only grows if the perpetrator is an "Ali," "Ahmed" or "Muhammad." Violent acts or crimes committed by others are either ignored, attributed to the "deranged" nature of the perpetrator, or quickly forgotten.
This "list" phenomenon can be expanded to include political instability around the world.
The campaign to sever South Sudan from Sudan was portrayed as a struggle for liberation from oppressive "Muslim and Arab" rulers. We now see "liberated" South Sudanese killing each other based on having the wrong pattern of tribal scarring.
Thousands of Muslims rallying in support of democracy have been killed or injured by the forces of a military coup in Egypt, yet the world acquiesces to the slaughter.
Would the world have similarly failed to stop the slaughter of 130,000 Syrians or the persecution of Burmese Muslims if the governments committing the killings and abuses were "Islamist?"
The answer to that question is intuitive based on the selective information accumulated in the "list."
Only when we view all acts of violence or instances of political instability through the same intellectual lens will we be able take the steps necessary to achieve what should be everyone's goal - a more just and peaceful world in which people of all faiths and backgrounds are equally valued and respected.
Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for CAIR.
ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
Please consider the above commentary for publication.
Reently, The Associated Press (AP) emailed an update to its online Stylebook subscribers about revisions to the recommended use of the term "Islamist" by media professionals. (The AP Stylebook is perhaps the most influential publication of its type and impacts coverage worldwide.)
Late last year, CAIR had approached AP about modifying the reference, which read at that time:
"Islamist -- Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi."
CAIR suggested that AP change its Stylebook to incorporate language similar to that used in the reference to "fundamentalist," which states that the label should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.
Earlier this year, CAIR urged media outlets to drop the term because, "Unfortunately, the term 'Islamist' has become shorthand for 'Muslims we don't like.'"
In its Thursday email, AP modified the "Islamist" reference to read:
"An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi."
We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims. The key issue with the term "Islamist" is not its continued use; the issue is its use almost exclusively as an ill-defined pejorative.
What do you think?
Email comments to me at: ihooper[at]cair.com