In an Aug. 20 column published on Al-Jazeera’s website, Hatem Bazian, director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, claims Islamophobia is not an irrational fear of Muslims and their faith. Rather, it is the mere opposition to the
Islamist Islamofascist political agenda advanced by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
IPT Since Morsi’s ouster as president last month, Egypt’s military “unleashed a deliberate ‘Othering’ campaign against the Brotherhood and its supporters that was highly Islamophobic, deploying a barrage of anti-Muslim tropes to achieve the desired outcome,” Bazian wrote. “The state and the privately-owned press worked to magnify and project this otherisation message, and in a short period the protesters in the encampments were no longer Egyptians protesting the military’s undemocratic actions but a ‘terrorist’ breeding ground.”
None of this explains what drove 30 million Egyptians into the street to demand Morsi’s ouster in the first place. To Bazian, protests of historic magnitude are signs of anti-Muslim bigotry. And what of Egypt’s military and security apparatus, which responded to the people’s wishes, and are dominated by Muslims? Islamophobes! How about Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the highest clerical authority in Sunni Islam, who blessed Morsi’s removal? Muslim hater!
He wasn’t out to defend the Brotherhood or Morsi, Bazian wrote, acknowledging some of their numerous failures in power. But when the military responded to the people’s demand for change, “an effective Islamophobic campaign [was] deployed to bring it about.”
Morsi’s ouster “will give a great ideological boost for the Islamophobes in many parts of the world and will immediately negate any efforts at remedying Muslim standing and image across the globe,” Bazian wrote. “By declaring ‘war on terror’ and stereotyping Muslim political parties in negative ways, this will only complicate and prevent a normative political maturation and resolution of historical and contemporary religious contradictions.”
Implicit in Bazian’s analysis is the idea that only the Muslim Brotherhood represents authentic Islam, and those who acted against it are somehow un-Islamic. That goes for tens of millions of Egyptian Muslims.
But his argument is undermined by statements from Brotherhood leaders inciting their followers to violence after Morsi’s fall, and Amnesty International citing the Islamist group for killing and torturing opponents in its encampments.
Bazian nevertheless rejects any linkage involving the Muslim Brotherhood and accusations of terrorism as inherently bigoted, concluding: “The Egyptian military and the elite have hitched its horse onto the Islamophobic wagon and will ride it into power, wealth and destruction.”
Please. Egypt is a nation of Muslims with an officer corps dominated by Muslims. They aren’t acting out of an unwarranted fear of Islam, but out of reasonable frustration after living under Islamist rule for a year. Bazian’s column simply offers another example of invoking “Islamophobia” to stifle such critical assessments.