Islamophobia Studies Journal, Fall 2014, Volume 2, Issue 2
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Clearly, the recent events in Europe, U.S. and the Muslim World have brought renewed attention to Islam and the status of Muslim citizens and immigrants in the West. For some, the idea of Islam and the West are an odd coupling that don’t belong to the same category and are structurally set on a constant course of conflict. Terrorist events in Europe and extreme violence perpetrated by ISIS is paraded as exhibits A-Z to illustrate this incompatibility between Muslims, as adherents and holding an affinity to Islamic faith or a mere expression identity formation, and ‘the West’, as an undifferentiated homogenous category. The voices clamoring to offer unvarnished ‘expert’ views on a supposed clash of civilization are many but for the most part belong to a well-connected body operating within a broader Islamophobic network and a strategy centering on cherry picking contemporary and historical facts to support a predetermined ideological position.
Today, we do have an Islamophobic industry that is committed to the systematic and structured demonization of Islam and Muslims while collapsing a diverse 1.4 billion people into a single undifferentiated threating class, both at home and abroad. Essentializing Muslims and giving them voice only in relations to terrorism and violence is at the heart of the Islamophobic campaign. Indeed, observing public discourses one gets the impression that the anti-Muslim sentiments have become widespread and the Islamophobia industry has managed to effectively deploy its messaging into the main stream. The intrusion and certainly the active pollution of public consciousness by racism and bigoted anti-Muslim discourses has been in the making and is part of a well-orchestrated campaign led by well-financed fringe groups and individuals.
In 2011, the Center for American Progress published a groundbreaking report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” which managed to expose for the first time the funding sources behind the bigotry producing Islamophobic industry, the individuals responsible and the effective strategies that made possible to impact the mainstream.
CAP’s report managed to shift the focus and correctly highlighted the infrastructure behind the growing Islamophobia phenomena and provided empirical evidence that until then was only theorized.
Art by Chanel Portman. Berylim Chanel Portman is an Oakland-based artist, originally from Los Angeles, California. She studied Illustration at Calfironia College of the Arts in San Francisco. She enjoys working in a variety of media, but has a particular love for watercolor, inks, and printmaking. Chanel specializes in drawing botanical and mystical subject matter, but also has an interest in politics and social justice.
The cover illustration, "It's Just Policy" is a critique on the discrimination Muslims, and anyone who appears to be of Middle-Eastern descent, experience in America. The piece addresses the general surveillance that goes hand-in-hand with Islamophobia, but is more directly inspired by a close friend's constant struggle with TSA, where he is always pulled aside for further inspection as he fits the mental image they seek out. I chose to use a microscope to represent TSA and the overall eyes of America. A microscope can only view a small part of a specimen, but in a very invasive way. By putting the woman and her child under the microscope, it represents the dehumanizing way that Islamophobic cultures inspect and survey Muslims.