Salaams and peace to everyone I am Mizan and i am the research director for VIP minds and I am a member of a movement called the peace network.

Since tonights event is called ‘Peace Not War’. It is really important for us as a community to talk about one of the ideological undercurrents that is serving to sustain and drive western imperialist ventures abroad, specifically in the middle east.
In the last decade we have seen the rise of various Islamophobes and Islamophobic groups such as the Dutch MP and Zionist geert wilders in the Netherlands, his friend, fellow US blogger and supporter of Zionism Pamela Geller and the most successful group in Europe, the English Defence League who are also supporters of Zionism.

We are living at a time where the anti-muslim movement is really reaching its peak. Any act that is deemed anti-muslim is categorised under the term ‘Islamophobia’ but as we as a community respond to the outward manifestations of Islamophobia, in order to respond appropriately we need to understand 2 things 1) what exactly is Islamophobia and 2) where does it fit within politics today?

In order to give a definition of Islamophobia, many muslim organisations and individuals have defined it as a type of racism, but Islamophobes respond to this claim by saying that Islamophobia is not racism because Islam is not a race. In order to derive a correct definition of Islamophobia, the author and academic Chris Allen in his new book which he entitled ‘Islamophobia’ described the chronological evolution of the term and all acts related to it in the UK, before redefining Islamophobia as

“an ideology, similar in theory, function and purposes to racism and other similar phenomena that sustains and perpetuates negatively evaluated meaning about Muslims and Islam in the contemporary setting in similar ways to that which it has historically, although not necessarily as a continuum, subsequently pertaining, influencing and impacting upon social action, interaction, response and so on, shaping and determining understanding perceptions and attitudes in the social consensus – the shared languages and conceptual maps – that inform constructive thinking about Islam and Muslims as the other” (pg 190)

So Islamophobia is an ideology that depicts muslims as the ‘Other’ but why is it so big now and how does it help sustain imperialism abroad?

In their report ‘Islamophobia and anti-muslim hate crime: UK case studies 2010’ the authors Dr Robert Lambert and Dr Jonothan Githens Mazer state

“Above all the war on terror has set the tone for creating a climate of fear in the UK in which suspicion depicted towards fellow citizens who are Muslims has become intrusive and pejorative creating negative stereotyping of the worst kind” (pg 99)

So what is it about the war on terror that is creating so much hatred?

Page 362 of the 9/11 commission report states

“But the enemy is not just terrorism, some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by islamist terrorism, especially the al qaeda network, its affiliates and its ideology”

In his article ‘War on ideology’ for the New York times, David brookes wrote

“The 9/11 commission report argues that we have to fight this war on 2 fronts. We have to use intelligence, military, financial and diplomatic capabilities to fight al qaeda. Thats where most of the media attention is focused. But the bigger fight is with the hostile belief system that cant be ransomed with but can only be isolated or utterly destroyed”

It is this aspect of the war on terror, the ideological war that has created an industry where funds can be allocated to groups or individuals who are critical of Islam and promote western democracy as the organisation FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) Stated in their publication ‘Smearcasting: How islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation’

“The war on terror has bolstered a class of Islamophobic self proclaimed Islamic terrorism experts”

So if i could just give you one example, on the 12th February 2009 Far Right Dutch MP Geert wilders attempted to enter the UK to show his first anti-islam film called “Fitna” at the house of lords through the invitation of 2 members of the house of lords Lord pearson and baroness cox. He was turned away at the airport as the Home office deemed his presence ‘not conducive to the public good’ but this was one of the biggest stories of that time and he got worldwide publicity for his film fitna whose viewership went in to the millions not just in the UK but worldwide. However what the mainstream press is that his views on Islam and Muslims didn’t develop due to his visits to the Muslim world as he states, they developed because in his teens, he went to Israel and stayed in an Israeli settlement which was pioneered by labour Zionists which is illegal under international law.
The exact settlement that he stayed in was called Moshav Tomer which is located near the Jordan Valley which is in itself a strategic location for Israels security. According to the grassroots Palestinian movement the Jordan Valley Solidarity

“The Israeli cabinet adopted a project to encourage young Israeli couples to settle in the Jordan Valley, including promising and plans to develop the agricultural and tourism levels in the area and to confiscate more Palestinian land for settlement expansion”

It was here where he developed his views on Israel and Muslims. This was confirmed in the BBC documentary called ‘Wilders: Europes most dangerous man’, where his long term friend who wilders met at the settlement, Arieh Eldad, a staunch supporter of Israel as an independent Jewish state and MP of the Islamophobic racist Hatikvai party was asked if Wilders needed any convincing in regards to the idea of Israel being a sovereign jewish state, Mr eldad replied
“I didn’t think i have to convince him. I thought. I thought he was very familiar with the plan and i think he realised that maybe the realistic plan to assure stable situation in the middle east where Israel is safe”
Upon returning to the Netherlands, Geert wilders became an MP. During his tenor as an MP, the dutch secret service noted he had visited the Dutch Israeli embassy over a dozen times and they suspected that he was giving them information and subsequently receiving instructions from the Israeli embassy.

In regards to his film, Fitna, which has been seen worldswide, the dutch news network in the Netherlands stated in their article ‘Wilders and the US Israel lobby’

“So what of Israel? Vrij Nederland covered that angle last year. Interesting part of the narrative was the trail behind wilders film fitna, which appeared in many scenes to be very close (if not an identical copy) of the earlier 80 minute documentary Obsession: Radical islams war against the west”
This DVD documentary called ‘Obsession: Radical Islams war against the west’ Was funded by a US pro-Israeli group called the Aish Hatorah foundation and distributed freely among 28 million newspapers in America which spread Islamophobia to get more people to vote for senator mccain and not barrack obama in the US presidential elections. The fact that wilders film fitna contains scenes from this DVD film ‘Obsession’ shows that fitna contains within it, scenes that were created for pro-israeli propaganda purposes that millions of people have been manipulated by. He said he is working on a second instalment of the film.

So Islamophobia is an ideology that is being used to sustain Imperialism, but what can we do about it? Since islaophobes want to influence policy and their messages regularly get out in to the media that influence the public, Muslim youth can get involved with various Muslim civil liberty organisations such as MPAC, Iengage etc to lobby against the many islamophobia MP’s that we have in parliament. We should also engage with the media, write letters to the editors if there is a story in the newspapers or on TV about Muslims that is simply isn’t true. However i’d just like to end of by saying that Islamophobia is an ideology that seeks to win hearts and minds, if we are to win the hearts and minds of the public, muslims should get involved in Dawah activities and organisations such as the Islamic Education and Research Academy. So in order to tackle politically get involved with muslim civil liberty organisations, lobby MP’s and write letters to the media however if you want to tackle Islamophobia from a grassroots perspective, commit acts of violence against groups like the EDL wont serve any purpose except to reinforce Islamophobia so if you want to tackle it ideologically, be good practicing muslims, do good things for your neighbours and the local community and get involved in dawah initiatives that will contextualise the misinformation that is out there about Islam and muslims because that and only that, will win hearts and minds.