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Pushing "Islamophobia," Obscuring Islamism

by Cinnamon Stillwell [political columnist] 10/31/07

As part of the "Islam Awareness Week" that took place last week at the University of Pennsylvania, a discussion titled, "Don't Believe the Hype: How the Media and Hollywood Portray Muslims and their Faith" will take place on October 24. Looking at the description of the event, it's clear that the usual platitudes about "Islamophobia," "racism," and "misconceptions" will be employed to mask the need for honest examination and, ultimately, reform in combating Islamism:

This event will seek to address the way Western media has created an unwarranted sense of fear towards Muslims. This speaker panel will address the heavy-hitting issue of Islamophobia as a form of racism towards Muslims. What is it, how is it formed, and how does it influence Western thought? Dr. Aminah McCloud and Azhar Usman will reflect upon the many negative images painted about Islam in today's media and attempt to reconcile the problems.

The goal of this panel is to reach a stronger understanding of Islamophobia and how Americans can respond to counteract this negative force. By better understanding Islam a victim of mass media, we can uncover the truth behind the misconceptions people have about the religion itself.

The involvement of Aminah Beverly McCloud, director of the Islamic World Studies program at DePaul University, speaks volumes about the disingenuous "Islam [as] a victim of mass media" trope being pushed by the speaker panel. McCloud has a history of not only aligning herself with reactionary and radical elements within the American Muslim community, but in actively working to obscure the true nature of Islamism in this country.


Cinnamon Stillwell is a columnist for SFGate.com, the online arm of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Northern California Representative for Campus Watch. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org. Her website is CinnamonStillwell.com and her blog is at http://www.cinnamonstillwell.blogspot.com [go to Stillwell CRO Index]


Earlier this year, Campus Watch highlighted the part played by Aminah Beverly McCloud in sabotaging the documentary, Islam vs. Islamists. Focusing on the challenges and dangers facing moderate Muslims from Islamists, the film was all set to broadcast on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as part of the taxpayer-funded series America at a Crossroads when it was canceled by managers at the PBS station WETA in Washington, D.C. And it turned out to be none other than Aminah Beverly McCloud on the WETA advisory board who helped them come to this decision.

In what the documentary's producer Martyn Burke described as an "unparalleled breach of ethics," McCloud showed rough-cut segments of the film to Nation of Islam officials who were themselves the subject of its investigative work. Unhappy with the film's realistic depiction of the group's attempts to intimidate Muslim whistleblowers into silence, the Nation of Islam officials threatened to sue PBS. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the process, McCloud's background as a follower of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a speaker for the Saudi-financed Muslim Students Association, and the faculty member at DePaul who made the decision to hire the controversial and now former political science professor Norman Finkelstein came to light. So too did her relationship with the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the leading apologist for Islamism among "mainstream" American Muslim organizations; her unsavory views on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (i.e. it was all our fault); and an excerpt from a 2000 article in the Nation of Islam's newspaper The Final Call, in which she stated that, "The Nation of Islam must define what Islam is within the American culture." (For more details on McCloud, read the Campus Watch blog post, "DePaul University Director of Islamic Studies and Finkelstein Ally Helps Sabotage PBS Documentary on Moderate Muslims").

That McCloud would continue to take part in activities which, under the guise of combating "Islamophobia," seek only to shroud the truth and, therefore, stave off much-needed progress is unsurprising. What is surprising is that McCloud continues to operate under a veneer of respectability she clearly does not merit. CRO

copyright 2007 Cinnamon Stillwell





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