What everyone “knows” about Islam and Muslims - updated 6/23/12
Posted Jun 23, 2012

What Everyone “Knows” About Islam and Muslims

by Sheila Musaji

There is a long list of bigoted propaganda stating some “fact” that everyone “knows” about Islam or Muslims which are all, quite simply, not facts at all.  These are claims that have no basis in fact, but are repeated over and over until most people just accept them as true.  They become memes and are transmitted like a virus from person to person.  You can find responses to hundreds of such claims hereYou can also click on any of the links included in this list of commonly repeated claims, and you will find an article that explains why that claim is false.

The most commonly repeated false claims about Muslims and Islam are that:

Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant,  inherently violent, more likely to engage in violence against civilians, and more likely than other Americans to be radicalized. 

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not interested in dialogue.  That Muslims don’t help Christians in need.  That Muslims can’t have Christians as friends, and are anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and intolerant of other faiths, and in fact hate Jews

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t unequivocally denounce terrorism, that American Muslim leaders have not responded to radicalization in their community,  that mosques are the source of radicalization, that 85% of mosques are run by radicals, that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement.

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column,  that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that Muslims are not loyal to America, that they are not a part of our American heritage,

Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, a “green peril”, that was spread by the sword,  an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion

Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threat to America, and a threat to our judicial system, by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers, and they will be the majority in this country in 20 years.  Muslims are a threat to America

Everyone “knows” that Muslims have no respect for the Constitution, they don’t obey the laws of the United States,  that they are opposed to freedom of speech, don’t allow and freedom of religion. 

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are given a pass by the elite media.  It’s “us versus them”. 

Everyone “knows” that the Muslims’ goal is world domination under a Caliphate, and the proposed Cordoba House in NYC is a demonstration of supremacism and triumphalism, and that Muslims planned to open it on the anniversary of 9/11. 

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t speak out against extremism or terrorism, and even those Muslims who do speak up or seem moderate are simply lying or practicing taqiyyah

Everyone “knows” that the Qur’an is uniquely violent, that the Islamic concept of God doesn’t include God’s love, and does not include the concept of a Golden Rule,  that Allah is a moon god. 

Everyone “knows” that Islam is a monolith and all Muslims are the same, like the “Borg”.  This means that every act committed by an individual who is a Muslim is directly attributable to Islam, and never because the individual is crazy, criminal, or perverted. 

Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor

Everyone “knows” that Muslims are like the Fascists and Nazis and that in fact they supported those movements.

The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong.  These self-righteous and incorrect statements are usually followed by a demand that the Muslim community do something about whatever is the false flag of the day or face the inevitable consequences.


In addition to these “everyone knows” statements of demonization and misrepresentation, there is also a whole industry of simply connecting with Islam or Muslims with any negative idea, event, or societal trend (even when there is no sane connection to make).  (Also see our lengthy collection Responses to Islamophobia, Arabophobia, and Extremism for many more such responses to false claims.)  For example,  lots of “news” items and claims crafted by the Islamophobes never happened, or are simply not true.  That does not stop them from endlessly repeating them and passing them on through the Islamophobia echo chamber.

ANTI-CHRISTIAN— The murder of a New Jersey Christian Coptic family was falsely charged to Muslims. — An American Christian Missionary in Africa didn’t face possible murder charges and hanging because of a traffic accident. — The ridiculous complaints about crosses at Catholic University were not made by Muslims — Muslims are not forbidden to have non-Muslims as friends. — Muslims are not intolerant of other faiths (Gallup poll)

ANTI-SEMITIC — The story that Iran was considering forcing Jews to wear a yellow star or yellow badge appeared in several publications and it was totally false. — An Urban Outfitters tee-shirt was not part of a “left/Islamic coalition” to incite to violence and genocide against Jews. — Muslim students did not “target Jewish students” with eviction notices at a Florida University. — Delta Airlines does not have a “no-Jew” policy for flights to Saudi Arabia — Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf did not make a comment blaming “the Jews” for 9-11 — There was no Muslim plot hatched in an on-line forum to attack British Jews over Israel’s actions in Gaza, and there was no “Islamist” named Abu Islam making these fake postings.  — It is not true that Muslim scholars have not spoken out against holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. 

APOSTASY & FREEDOM OF FAITH — It is not true that Muslims have not spoken against any punishment for apostasy, and in favor of freedom of faith for all.   

ARABIC TERMS  — A Madrassah is simply a school.  — The Muslim statement of faith (Shahada) is not an expression of hate, or is not  an “expression of hate” “closely identified” with terrorism.  — It is not true that the Muslim concept of taqiyya means that Muslims have permission to lie to non-Muslims to “advance the cause of Islam”.  It is also not true that Christian and Jewish scholars haven’t discussed the same concept and come to similar conclusions.

CELEBRATING TERRORISM— Arabs did not celebrate 9/11 at a Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey. — Budweiser did not pull all its product from the shelves of a convenience store because there was a celebration of 9/11 attacks,  this never happened.

CHILD BRIDES — The Hamas “child bride” incident was nothing of the sort.

CITIZENSHIP & CIVIC PARTICIPATION — A government officials’ conversion to Islam is not “like joining the Nazi party during WWII”.  — Muslims also died on 9/11.  — A spelling bee for students at Muslim schools was not an example of the inability of Muslims to integrate. — Requesting reasonable religious accommodation in the public sphere is not “creeping Sharia”.  — The White House Iftar was not a “ghoulish” or “disgraceful” attempt to appease Muslims — Whole Foods offering halal products during Ramadan was not “shilling for jihadist interests” — There is no plot by Muslim cabdrivers in New York City to impose Sharia on America because they objected to pornographic signs. — The best buy Happy Eid statement on an ad was not a subversive attempt to “water down” American holidays — The Muslims Harass Christian & Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help Story never happened    — Muslim environmentalists are not part of a sinister plot to colonize the west. — Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an in the photo op after his swearing in was not “undermining American culture”.  There have been so many attacks on Muslims attempting to engage in public life, that this also requires a separate section:  If a Muslim runs for political office, or even wants to get involved in their local community, or establish any sort of institution, they are demonized.  Outrageous charges of “creeping Sharia prononent”,  “stealth jihadist”, “Muslim Brotherhood plant”, etc. are made by Islamophobes.   Here are just a few examples of such attacks:

Huma Abedin has been facing bigoted accusations for at least the past year.  — Sh. Muhammad Nur Abdullah was listed as a “stealth jihadist” on the Discover the Networks site for nothing more than being President of ISNA and a member of the FCNA.  — Imam Johari Abdul-Malik was attacked when he was asked to lead the prayer in the Virginia Legislature.— Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was attacked for wanting to built a Muslim community center in Manhattan — Ambassador Akbar Ahmed was attacked for the statement that “America’s Founding Fathers admired Islam”, this was called “an attempt to “Islamize” Americans’ “knowledge” of the origin of their nation.” — Parvez Ahmed’s appointment to the Jacksonville, Florida Human Rights Commission was strongly opposed. — Frank Gaffney’s CSP is pressuring the Gov. of Tennessee to fire Samar Ali from the position of Director of the Economic and Community Development Dept.   — Wajahat Ali was attacked because he was in the MSA in college — Arif Alikhan, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, was attacked when he was appointed Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security because he had spoken at an MPAC convention. —  Salam al-Marayati was listed as a “stealth jihadist” on the Discover the Networks site for being President of MPAC.— Debbie Almontaser was attacked when she attempted to establish an Arabic language school in NYC.  — Mazen Asbahi was forced to resign as Obama’s Muslim Outreach Coordinator to avoid further disruption to the office.  — Reza Aslan was attacked by Robert Spencer for speaking out against Islamophobia.  — Laleh Bakhtiar was accused of “lying” in her Qur’an translation — Rep. Andre Carson was recently embroiled in a manufactured controversy.   — Halim Dhanidina, who spent 14 years as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, was appointed to a California Superior Court judgeship by Gov. Jerry Brown, he was attacked for having been in the MSA as a student.  — Mohamed Elibiary, a member of DHS’s Combatting Violent Extremism Working Group (CVE). — Khaled Abou El Fadl was attacked by Daniel Pipes as a “stealth Islamist” — Rep. Keith Ellison has faced numerous assaults.  — Rima Fakih was attacked simply for winning the Miss USA Beauty Pageant.— The Fiqh Council of North America fatwa against terrorism was attacked for not defining “civilians”.  — Faisal Gill, a former JAG officer in the Navy and a Bush White House official accused of terrorist connections when he attempted to get involved in local politics.  — Nezar Hamze was rejected for a position in the Broward County Republican Committee because “Islam is incompatible with the Constitution.” — Mehdi Hasan was attacked when he was hired as a Huffington Post Editor. — Rashad Hussein when appointed as special envoy to the OIC.  — Even Zuhdi Jasser, Rep. Peter King’s “ideal Muslim leader” has been accused of practicing taqqiya.— Zaid Jilani was attacked and lost his job over spurious “anti-Semitism” charges. — Rashid Khalidi was attacked for defending the right of Palestinians to resist the occupation.  — Suhail Khan was accused of being a Muslim Brotherhood operative “infiltrating” CPAC.  — Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates was attacked for giving Muslims common legal advice. — Imam Mohamed Magid, attacked for being President of ISNA.  — Irshad Manji another of the Islamophobes “good” Muslims was attacked by Pamela Geller for distinguishing between “radical” and “moderate” Islam.— Prof. Ingrid Mattson, the first female President of ISNA for being included in Inaugural Prayer Service.— Dalia Mogahed was attached when she was appointed to the White House’s Office of Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.  — Sohail Mohammed faced baseless attacks when he was nominated as a judge on the NJ state Superior Court by Gov. Christie. — Muslim interns on capital hill were accused of “infiltrating” and there were calls for an investigation. — Muslim staffers on capital hill met for prayer and there was a call for a Justice Dept. investigation.  — The comedian Dean Obeidallah was called an “Islamic supremacist hate propagandist”  — Dr. Mehmet Oz was attacked for being a “Muslim Turk, the worst scum of the earth”— Eboo Patel  was called an “Islamic supremacist” for calling for a boycott of Lowe’s for dropping advertising for All-American Muslim under bigoted pressure — Farah Pandith was attacked as “working for the cause of Islam, not America” when she was appointed by Hillary Clinton as Special Rep. to Muslim Communities — Imam Hasan Qazwini was attacked for his opposition to an AFDI/SIOA hate group event in Dearborn. — David Ramadan, a Muslim GOP candidate in a Virginia House of Delegates race and Reagan administration Attorney General and Ronald Reagan Chair in Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation was called a “stealth jihadist” by Pamela Geller.  — Ahmed Rehab faced bigotry when he was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as part of an advisory committee on immigration issues.   — Faiz Shakir was attacked when Nancy Pelosi hired him as Director of Media in her office.  — Imam Muzammil Siddiqui attacked by SIOA when the Human Rights Commission honored him with an award.  — Imam Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir were attacked for founding Zaytuna Institute which Pamela Geller called “academic jihad”  — Fareed Zakaria was attacked as a “Muslim Brother” because his father was an Islamic scholar. 

I can’t think of an active Muslim, or a Muslim organization, that has not been attacked, and that includes Imams, journalists, community activists, scholars, educators, politicians, etc..  In fact, you don’t even need to be a famous individual to come under attack, just a Muslim.  For example, I have personally been the subject of many such attacks for pointing out instances of Islamophobia.  The only Muslim that I can think of that is regularly (although not universally) praised by Islamophobes is Zuhdi Jasser who Rep. Peter King calls the ideal Muslim leader, and a few other “astroturf” Muslims.   See The Islamophobic Attempt to Marginalize American Muslim Civic Participation for examples of non-Muslims being attacked for supporting Muslims.

CRESCENTS & “MUSLIM” SYMBOLS — The Nuclear Security Summit logo is an atom on a circular path, not an Islamic symbol.  — The U.S. Missile Defense Logo is not evidence of ‘Submission To Shariah’, and neither is the Flight 93 memorial. — The Google Veteran’s Day logo doesn’t display a secret Muslim agenda.

CULTURE & CUSTOMS — Wearing a tee-shirt with Arabic writing on it does not make a person dangerous.  — Ashura is not a “Muslim blood festival”.  — There is no  Muslim sword through the 41-cents mark on the U.S. Eid postage stamp. — The zebibah (prayer bruise) on some Muslims foreheads is not a sign of a “commitment to jihad”. — Muslims don’t hate dogs. — Muslim handshaking customs are not an attempt to force Sharia on others. — An Eid party for Muslim special needs kids was not any sort of “stealth jihad” —Muslims do not block New York streets to pray every Friday. 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH — “Islamophobia” is not an “attempt to silence freedom of speech”  — It is not true that American Muslims have not defended freedom of speech — Condemnation of hateful speech is not an attempt to impose legal restrictions on that speech.

HATE CRIMES — Muslims are not more likely to report “fake” hate crimes than anyone else.

“HONOR KILLING”— Opposition to Geller & Spencers “human rights” conference on honor killing does not equal “supporting honor killing, gendercide, and the subjugation and oppression of women.”

INBREEDING — Claims about Muslim inferiority due to “inbreeding” are racist and a misrepresentation of the issue

ISLAMO-FASCISTS, ISLAMO-NAZIS — The Mufti of Jerusalem was not “the leader of the Muslim world” and most Muslims fought the Nazis and Fascists.

JIHAD (STEALTH JIHAD) This has become such a common claim that it requires a section of its’ own “Islamophobes see “jihad” everywhere”.  Jihad is not terrorism except in the minds of the extremists and the Islamophobes.  Here are just a few ridiculous claims about nonsensical Muslim plots:

An Eid Celebration for Muslim Special Needs Kids was described as a “stealth jihad”.   A children’s page in a newspaper focusing on Eid was described as a toxic propaganda plot.  Joel Hinrichs (a Christian) had a beard and had walked through the parking lot of a campus mosque thus proving that his crime was an example of sudden jihad syndrome.   The awful April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech by a Korean student was also called Islamic jihad because Cho’s father had once worked in Saudi Arabia (before he was married and before Cho was born).  A Muslim doctor had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car which then crashed into a shopping mall and this was described as “vehicular jihad”.   A Muslim cab driver objected to what he considered pornographic ads on the roof of his cab, and that became a stealth-jihad plot to impose Sharia on America.  Any Muslim who has sued an employer for violation of their rights under the EEOC is engaged in employment jihad, or litigation jihad.  Muslim environmentalists are said to be actually engaged in “civilizational jihad”.  A cartoon series “The 99” aimed at young Muslims was described as “cultural jihad”.  The victims of the terrorist attack of 9/11 included Muslims, they were accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihad. Muslims hoped to open a Muslim hospital in the U.S. and that was called hospital jihad.

The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking” Muslim jihad plots.  They have uncovered:

bumper sticker jihadThanksgiving turkey jihadpaisley scarf jihadmarriage to important men jihadspit jihad —  fashion jihadspelling bee jihadrape jihaddefacing dollar bills jihadpopulation jihadcreeping Sharia jihad —  mosque building jihadterror baby jihad“creeping Sharia” jihadpedophilia jihadbus driver prayer jihadforehead bruise jihadpostage stamp jihadsoup jihad —  banning alcohol jihadfake hate crimes jihadpiggy bank jihadtv reality series jihadhandshake jihadprom jihadinterfaith jihadArabic language jihadpublic school jihadreligious accommodation jihadCrescent moon jihadChristmas tree tax jihadoath of office jihadimmigration jihad community fundraiser jihadpublic school/madrassa jihadpost office jihadfood jihadpyramid jihadcrucifixion jihadfireworks jihadcomputer donation jihadcivic participation jihadOlympic “judo” jihad   — stealth name jihadpre-violent jihadLove jihadfashion jihad 2#MyJihad ad jihadtalk show host jihadart museum jihadHalloween jihadDNC Muslim Prayer Jihadcat crucifixion jihad in GhanaScottish Muslim women’s stealth jihadanti-democracy jihadun-neighborly Musims in Paris jihadjihad on Christopher ColumbusIranian smallpox jihadMuslim Christmas grinch jihad#MyJihad twitter jihad

Nothing is too trivial to escape the eagle eyes of these “defenders of Western civilization” against devious Muslim stealth jihad plots.  Christina Abraham (a Muslim) has a name that is not recognizably Muslim enough and so we have stealth name jihad. And, if a Muslim somewhere is not doing anything at all suspicious, then they are engaged in pre-violent jihad.

LOYALTY— A Muslim student in Florida did not refuse to stand for the pledge of allegiance. — It is not true that American Muslims don’t support and defend the Constitution of the U.S. 

MOSQUES — The judge did not rule “that construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro must stop”. “Islamic supremacists” are not “defying the chancellor’s order” or “defying American law” or “demonstrating their contempt for American jurisprudence”.

POPULATION, MUSLIM DEMOGRAPHICS —There is no plot to have terrorist babies born in the U.S. 

PROPAGANDA— Muslims did not destroy the Library of Alexandria. — The Song of Roland is propaganda, it was not “Saracens” but Basques that attacked Charlemagne.  — The photo of a Yemeni passenger on the Mavi Marmara holding a dagger was totally misrepresented — Barack Obama is not a Muslim, but so what if he was? — Mattel is not promoting Sharia with a subversive doll that supposedly says “Islam is the light”.  —There is no Muslim scholar named Sheikh Haron, and everything he does or says as a supposed member of the Muslim community is a lie.

QUR’ANThere is no verse of the Qur’an (supposedly 9:11) on “The Wrath of the Eagle”. — Muslims do not Curse Christians and Jews in Their Daily Prayers when they recite Surah Fateha — It is not true that “to go away from” as a translation for darabah in Qur’an 4:34 was never used before Laleh Bakhtiar’s translation. 

RAPE — All of the rapes Oslo, Norway over the past three years were not “committed by Muslim immigrants using rape as a weapon of cultural terrorism”. —Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazd did not justify and provide Islamic guidelines for the raping of prisoners.  The story was a lie. — All rapes in Norway have not been committed by Muslims (not even most)

SHARIA (CREEPING SHARIA, ENFORCING SHARIA, STEALTH SHARIA) — The story about the British banks banning piggy banks so as not to offend Muslims thus enforcing Sharia never happened.  — Nurses in Britain were not “ordered to drop everything and turn Muslims’ beds toward Mecca five times daily” thus enforcing Sharia. — A bus driver in Britain didn’t tell passengers to get off the bus so he could pray, no creeping Sharia. — Muslims never objected to St. George’s Flag in Britain — a pregnant woman was not arrested for carrying a British flag — a Chicago doctor did not plan to open a “Sharia/Islam only” hospital   — It is not true that Sharia and Halakha have nothing in common.— The supposed Egyptian “necrophilia law” was not an accurate story. —The story about a flight from London to Malta being stopped because a Muslim man was praying in the aisle was a lie — Straight prayer lines, beards, hijabs, gender segregation during prayers, wearing a watch on your right hand, wearing “non-western” clothing, etc. are not “Sharia adherent behaviors” that might correlate with the promotion of violence.

SLAVERY — The word Slav does not come from the word for slave and has nothing to do with Islam.  Slavery is not only a Muslim problem.

SPEAKING OUT — It is not true “that absolutely none of the self-professed “moderate” Muslim leaders in the U.S. will disavow Hizb ut-Tahrir or its goals.”— MEMRI was wrong when they issued a statement doubting that Imam Ali Khamanei ever issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons. — The Amman message does clearly “address violence or non-violent jihad activity against non-Muslims” claiming that it does not is a lie

STEREOTYPING — Muslims are not a monolithic group or Borg-like collective

TERRORISM & VIOLENCE— The supposed bomb threat made by an Arizona student that led to an evacuation of the school was a hoax by non-Muslim students.  — Muslims are not more likely to support terrorism and violence than Christians or Jews.  — The University of Oklahoma bombing had no connection with Islam.— The Virginia Tech massacre had no connection with Islam. — The story that Iran was going to attack the U.S. and/or Israel with nuclear weapons on August 22, 2006 was a lie. — There were no Muslims acting suspiciously on Air Tran flight 297. — 17,000 “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains — Muslims did not paint graffiti on Southwest jets as a “jihadist” or “Islamic threat” — The tragic Belgian massacre by Nordine Amrani was not a “jihad” attack and Amrani wasn’t a Muslim   — The Hollywood shooter, Tyler Brehm was not a Muslim — There was no assassination attempt on an EDL leader in Britain. — Muslims are not more likely than non-Muslims to approve of violence against civilians (PEW poll). —The Holocaust museum shooting had nothing to do with Islam. — Anders Breivik’s terrible massacre in Norway was not “a jihad” or even commited by a Muslim — The “Muslim plot” to kill the Pope never happened — Five American Muslim soldiers never plotted to poison their fellow soldiers. — There was no Muslim cat crucifixion in Nigeria to protest an anti-Muslim film.(Note: click on the links to see responses to particular claims or incidents)


How is it that these statements have become memes, constantly repeated, and spreading everywhere?  Baron Bodissey of the Gates of Vienna site wrote Overselling the Meme in which he clearly stated the goals of anti-Islam propoganda.  Here is the article that I wrote about this Islamophobia Manifesto Clearly Lays Out Plot Against Muslims:

Baron Bodissey (pseudonym of Edward May) of the Gates of Vienna wrote Overselling the Meme which appears to be the clearest statement of the actual intent of the dedicated cadre of Islamophobes who are determined to paint all Muslims as “the other”.  Bodissey, a virulent Islamophobe is respected only by other Islamophobes.  Pamela Geller referred to him as :One of my favorite bloggers and fellow infidel at the Infidel Bloggers Alliance, Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna”  He was one of her fellow freedom fighters until they fell out over the EDL.

Here is his practical, step-by-step guide to demonizing an entire religious group (emphasis mine):

My primary job is to be a propagandist: that is, my aim as an activist in the Counterjihad cause is to move the meme. Or, more fully, to move multiple memes.

Only by breaking through the dominant paradigms with subversive memes will we bring down the hegemony of the PC/MC establishment which rules the government, the academy, the media, and the culture at large.

Political correctness currently has an absolute lock on the major media, so propagating memes is extremely difficult. Yes, it helps us to get one of our people on TV as a talking head, but the setup in such situations is almost always rigged to make the interviewee look nutty or dangerous, so the value of such appearances is limited.

For large-scale effectiveness, we must proceed more stealthily, and with more limited goals. Each step is small, and seems inconsequential, but when aggregated our tiny successes have an effect, and will accelerate the change in our direction when things go sideways for the oligarchs.

To do the job, we must insert many, many memelets into common discourse. This must be accomplished at a level well below that of the celebrities and famous pundits, because action on that battlefield invites a massive and well-funded counterattack by CAIR, ISNA, the OIC, etc.

I’ve been paying close attention for the last seven years, and during that time there have been numerous changes in the common discourse at the samizdat level, below what is officially permitted in public discourse. For example, the phrase “Mohammed the pedophile” is now common — almost universal — in popular forums and discussion groups. It even pops up at the higher levels occasionally, and gets people like Susanne Winter and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff charged and tried. This meme was very rare until well after 9-11.

You might say, “But, strictly speaking, it’s not true — Mohammed’s marriage to a child was a commonly accepted practice in his day, among both Muslims and non-Muslims. It was not considered pedophilia back then. Asserting this is an example of the fallacy of ‘presentism’.”

These counterarguments are reasonable, and they may well be true. But they don’t advance the meme.

It’s the same with “Islam is not a religion.” This concept was all but unheard of just six or seven years ago. But now it is common currency.

To push memes like these into mass circulation, they must be oversold. If we spend all our time fine-tuning them, they won’t emerge into popular consciousness. If we include the historical background, the comparative theology, the philosophical references, and all the subtle nuances of the whole truth, the meme will never spread.

As a propagandist, my task is to spread the meme and not to sweat the nuances. Nuances can be argued about and nailed down by scholars in the centuries after Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion — is totally destroyed. We don’t have the luxury for such finicky scholasticism right now.

If I wanted to be totally accurate, I might say something like this: “Islam contains religious, political, and cultural ideologies that are fused into a unitary system. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, its political elements have never been separated from its theological ones. Those elements are supremacist, totalitarian, and expansionist.”

Now, that’s fairly accurate, and it’s about as short a statement as you can craft and still include the nuances of the situation. But as a meme, it’s a bust. You can squeeze the trigger on that particular rhetorical gun, and the bullet will just roll out of the barrel and plop into the dust at your feet.

Ordinary people understand the essence of what is intended when someone says, “Islam is not a religion.” They know that it means that Islam is not like modern Christianity. They understand that it refers to the fact that Muslim zealots will lie, steal, cheat, rape, torture, murder, and blow up trains and airplanes to attain political ends. That’s not what they consider a religion.

They know all these things already. Despite the intensive indoctrination they’ve been subjected to for forty years, the truth comes through: they see the dismembered bodies and the burning buildings and the disfigured women, and they understand that “Allahu Akhbar” is involved in virtually every single incident.

So the meme works, because it is true at an essential level.

But we have to oversell it to get it out there on everyone’s lips.

Our propaganda is aimed at changing minds at the margin, at affecting the thinking of those whose opinions are not yet fully formed. If we wait until we get every jot and tittle of our message perfect, the scimitar will be at our throats before we change even a single mind.

This document explains a great deal about the distorted thinking of this group of extremists.  The truth is only an annoyance, if it doesn’t advance the meme.  Currently our goal is to influence those who don’t currently hold an opinion.  The ultimate goal is the destruction of the religion of Islam.   There is no way to destroy the religion of Islam without destroying Muslims?

The Gates of Vienna is not the only site to have expressed such an ideology in the form of a manifesto.  A site called Crombouke blogspot displays a disgustingly hateful image on the page titled “How to destroy Islam - non-violently”.   It opens with If we don’t destroy Islam as an ideology it will exterminate us culturally and physically, then repeat anti-Muslim propaganda and say “There can be no violent solution” and layout out what their “non-violent” program should be:  The only option for defeating Islam is to undermine it in the same way we undermined communism - by a slow process of ideological warfare.

What is their brilliant plan?

The Muslims themselves have shown us their most vulnerable spot, which is the questionable (though unquestioned) character of the ‘Prophet’ himself. We need to satirise and ridicule baby-bonking Mo until the Muslims fly into uncontrollable tantrums, then ridicule them even more for their tantrums, and repeat the process until they froth at the mouth and steam comes out of their ears.

And then:  Secondly, Muslims should not merely be treated the same as everybody else, but should be made to pay the price of their totally negative antisocial and damaging presence in our countries.  - Muslim immigration must be stopped. -  Islam’s status as a religion should be rescinded. - Muslims must be regarded as enemy aliens and banned from sensitive occupations where they may be a security risk.

It goes on with all of these ideas at great and disgusting length. 

In case you are tempted to think that these are fringe groups and don’t really represent any “respectable” thought, here are some examples of existing Islamophobic efforts following just this plan:

In 2011, Justin Elliott published an article Mystery of who funded right-wing “radical Islam” campaign deepens which included internal memos and emails which seemed to suggest that the Clarion Fund (producers of the film Obsession, etc.) were engaged in a well thought out plan to bring Islamophobia into the mainstream.  Here is a summary of what was discovered from Alternet ThinkProgress has obtained new documents, left open to the public by the Clarion Fund’s webmaster, that offer an insight into the ideas behind the organization’s websites and films. An e-mail from Clarion Fund communications director Gregory Ross to the webmaster, outlines the campaign to promote Obsession during the 2008 presidential election (view a copy here). Ross explains how he would like to brand Clarion’s anti-Muslim campaign with “something pleasing to the eye, edgy, hip and fun!” To bring Obsession’s anti-Muslim themes into the mainstream, Ross wanted to make a symbol or slogan with wide appeal, like “google, banana republic or even coca-cola”

If you read quotes from David Yerushalmi (author of the anti-Sharia bills sweeping the country) and from his organization SANE the language used by Yerushalmi and SANE is more than similar to the language of Bodissey and Crombouke.  Our TAM report on Yerushalmi and SANE is here.

Frank Gaffney’s Sharia report focusing on Sharia as a danger to America, also manages to work in the anti-Muslim memes of “stealth jihad” p.12, contributing to charity as something subversive p.16, Muslim “demographic jihad” p.127, Sharia as some sort of disease that Muslims spread by their very presence p.130, etc.

Daniel Pipes is promoting the idea of a “Muhammad cartoon a day” to teach Muslims not to be so thin skinned.  He is joining Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) who published an appeal on David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine Is It Time for ‘Make Your Own Mohammed Movie Month’?.  And, both are following in the footsteps of Pamela Geller, who promoted just such a plan back in 2010 with her promotion of Draw Muhammad Day, even after the cartoonist who drew the first cartoon and suggested the idea, Molly Norris apologized to Muslims and asked for the day to be called off, and American Muslims had issued a defense of free speech.  

In just the past few months we have seen a series of inflammatory provocations primarily focused on disparaging Prophet Muhammad, just as the Crombouke site suggested above.  The Islamophobia echo chamber is heating up its’ assault on Islam and Muslims.  Robert Spencer published his latest book “Did Muhammad Exist”.  We had the Innocence of Muslims film Titanic, a German satire magazine plans an “Islam” cover article to be published later this month.   Charlie Hebdo, a French satire magazine published an issue with inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.  (It is curious that a few years ago, the same Charlie Hebdo magazine fired the cartoonist Maurice Sinet after he refused to apologize for cartoons considered anti-Semitic.)  Newsweek published their ‘Muslim Rage’ cover.  Terry Jones publicized that he would hold a “trial of Prophet Muhammad” on September 11th.  Stop the Islamization of Nations SION (Geller & Spencer’s hate group) publicized that they would hold a “global” gathering in NYC on September 11th.  AFDI/SION has also published a series of anti-Muslim ads on public transportation on the east and west coasts.  A group in Toronto publicized a “walk your dog at the mosque” day.   And, currently, three more “Muhammad films” are in production.

These folks may not be as honest as Baron Bodissey, but they clearly use the same tactics.


They come from a relatively small group of individuals and organizations involved in an ISLAMOPHOBIA INDUSTRY.  Please see A Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry where The American Muslim (TAM) has collected information about these individuals in an easy to use format.  Just click on the links provided to go to in-depth articles and backgrounders on these individuals.   


The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade.  They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda. They produce anti-Muslim films.  They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally.   They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”

The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences.

The claim that they are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence” are nonsense.  The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,  or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense

The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.

There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic.  There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)  are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.   There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.   There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. 

The reason is that these individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.).    They see “jihad” plots everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist.  They generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.   They consistently push the false memes that:  - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  - Muslims in government are Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be marginalized or excluded.  Every Muslim organization is connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label.  Individual Muslims and Arabs, and their organizations are accused of not condemning Hamas.  When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence.

You would never know from listening to any of the members of the Islamophobia Industry that Muslims have defended  freedom of speech, participated in interfaith dialogue, defended freedom of faith against apostasy laws,  condemned blasphemy laws, condemned holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, promoted non-violent solutions to the many problems we face, called for protecting all houses of worship and condemned any attacks on churches or synagogues anywhere, condemned violent responses to numerous incidents including the response to the Innocence of Muslims film, spoken out against child marriage, are working to stop domestic violence in our community, etc.  Type condemn into the TAM search engine and 145 statements of condemnation come up in addition to the collections in our lengthy section Muslim voices against extremism terrorism and violence  Muslims speak out loudly and clearly condemning our own extremists, and their extremist statements and actions.  Type “lunatic fringe” into the TAM search engine for many such articles condemning particular extremists and extremist groups and activities.

You would never know that Muslims are decent, hardworking, productive citizens, making a positive contribution to this society.  Muslims haven’t just spoken out against abuses carried out anywhere in the world that dishonor Islam, but also worked doing positive things.  our TAM collection of good news stories about Muslims for this year of 2012 notes that Many people are not aware for example:

that a Sacramento Christian congregation was invited to hold their Easter services at a mosque: that an East Bronx Jewish community was invited to hold their services in a mosque when they lost their building; that a Northern Virginia Jewish community invited local Muslims to pray Jumah in the synagogue; that a Virginia mosque held an interfaith Jewish Seder. All of those things have happened already this year.  Or that there are many active programs and efforts in the community to counter radicalization and extremism and to work to protect minority rights in Muslim majority countries, or that Muslims are involved in community service, interfaith work, peacemaking work, free clinics, volunteer efforts, civil rights efforts, disaster relief efforts, environmental efforts, etc.  Read the article for specific information and links to sources


—  Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives for a lengthy list of anti-Muslim, Islamobophic quotes by elected representatives and government representatives

—  Christian brotherly love is difficult for some to obtain for anti-Muslim quotes by Christians including Christian clergypeople.  Members of this group include: Rev. Jerry Falwell, Bryan Fisher (American Family Association), Rev. Franklin Graham, Rev. John Hagee, Rev. Rod Parsley,  Rev. Pat Robertson (Christian Coalition, 700 Club), etc.

—  Jewish “Ahavah shel achvah” Brotherly Love is Difficult for Some to Attain for anti-Muslim quotes by Jews including Rabbis.

There would appear to be an Islamophobia industry engaged in what Max Blumenthal calls a Great Islamophobic Crusade.  In regard to the production of “Relentless”,  “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West” and “The Third Jihad” TAM has published this article and Richard Silverstein has discussed the anti-Muslim propaganda during the last election cycle here, and the money trail between these groups here  and here


The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender has the best working definition I have seen:

The term “Islamophobia” was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” The term was coined in the context of Muslims in the UK in particular and Europe in general, and formulated based on the more common “xenophobia” framework.

The report pointed to prevailing attitudes that incorporate the following beliefs:

•Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities
•Islam does not share common values with other major faiths
•Islam as a religion is inferior to the West.  It is archaic, barbaric, and irrational.
•Islam is a religion of violence and supports terrorism.
•Islam is a violent political ideology.
For the purposes of anchoring the current research and documentation project, we provide the following working definition:

Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure.  It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise).  Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.

This will be periodically updated 1/2009