With much fanfare, the “Terrorism Awareness Project,” funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, has proclaimed an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” on college campuses beginning Oct. 22. It is a calculated effort to vilify Islam in general, place Muslim Student Associations on the defensive, and generate support for further U.S. military action in the Islamic world.
Muslims constitute about a quarter of the world’s population and around two percent of the U.S. population. Muslims are a part of many ethnic groups. Arabs are actually a minority in the Muslim world; the most populous Muslim countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, India) are non-Arab.
The Muslim world is complex and divided religiously (into Sunni, Shiite and other groups) and politically. There are Muslim absolute monarchies, constitutional monarchies, secular states and Islamic republics. To understand this world, one needs to avoid stereotypes and dispassionately examine it.
But immediately after Sept. 11, the Bush Administration, having no patience for nuance or dispassionate examination, set about trying to link the secular republic of Iraq with the mostly Saudi al-Qaeda terrorists. The Bush Administration believed that, having been attacked by al-Qaeda, Americans would support an attack on the completely unrelated target of Iraq. But what did al-Qaeda and Iraq really have in common, besides a common ancestry?
Al-Qaeda hated Iraq for its suppression of Islamic religious activism and its tolerance of Christians and other religious minorities. Despite this rocky relationship, the administration was somehow able to conflate the two, so that even today about a third of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11.
Those responsible for the Terrorism Awareness Project espouse this view. On Sept. 13, 2001, one of the speakers of “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”, right-wing extremist Ann Coulter, said in National Review: “We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (MORE)