Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West

Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West

Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West

Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West

Synopsis

What makes people cosmopolitan? How is cosmopolitanism shaping everyday life experiences and the practices of ordinary people? Making use of empirical research, Cosmopolitanism in Practice examines the concrete settings in which individuals display cosmopolitan sensibilities and dispositions, illustrating the ways in which cosmopolitan self-transformations can be used as an analytical tool to explain a variety of identity outlooks and practices. The manner in which both past and present cosmopolitanisms compete with meta-narratives such as nationalism, multiculturalism and religion is also investigated, alongside the employment of cosmopolitan ideas in situations of tension and conflict. With an international team of contributors, including Ulrich Beck, Steven Vertovec, Rob Kroes and Natan Sznaider, this book draws on a variety of intellectual disciplines and international contexts to show how people embrace and make use of cosmopolitan ideas and attitudes.

Excerpt

Ten years after the attacks of 11 September 2001, we continue to witness the scapegoating of Islamic individuals, groups, and even nations accused of supporting terrorism (Welch 2006a, 2009). In March 2011, for instance, a series of US Congressional hearings began, aimed at investigating the supposed radicalization of American Musl King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, defended his platform. ‘Al Qaeda is recruiting from the Muslim community,’ said King (Shane 2011: 4). Opponents of the hearings countered by accusing King of pushing forward an inquisition rather than attempting to decipher the intricacies of terrorist plots. ‘This hearing is not focusing on the acts of a criminal fringe but is broad-brushing an entire community,’ remarked Alejandro J. Beutel, policy analyst at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington (Shane 2011: 5).

Congressman King’s hearings are emblematic of other campaigns geared at marginalizing Muslims, especially as America stepped closer to the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. In 2010, news organizations around the world gave close coverage to the controversy over the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’ Although its sponsors stress that the venue was planned to serve as an interfaith centre for followers of many religions, negative – even hostile – reaction to the ‘mosque’ gained momentum: some polls indicated that 71 per cent of Americans opposed the centre (Abdel-Fattah 2010: 9). Many commentators reiterated a common sentiment that Ground Zero is a sacred site, despite the fact that strip clubs with nude dancers surround the neighbourhood. When that observation was pointed out, one critic of the ‘mosque’ responded: ‘The terrorists were not strippers’ (Abdel-Fattah 2010: 9). Here, an all too familiar calculus persists: Muslims equal terrorists.

Such demonization in a post-9/11 world also resonates in personal testimonies of other self-appointed terrorist detectors, among them is Brigitte Gabriel. A potent public speaker, she lectures a circuit of hundreds of churches, synagogues, and conference rooms, as well as taking centre stage at a Tea Party convention in fall of 2010. According to Gabriel, ‘America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the CIA, at the FBI, at the Pentagon, at the State Department. They are being radicalized in radical mosques in our cities and communities within the United States’ (Goodstein 2011: 2). Gabriel has built an aggressive network of activists committed to challenging Islam within American society. Her group, ACT! for America claims 155,000 . . .

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