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Anti-Muslim activists use Boko Haram kidnappings to fan far-Right flames of Islamophobia

Imagine 2050 Staff • May 22, 2014

Like clockwork, anti-Muslim opportunists were quick to indict Islam after the extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian school girls last month. This comes as no surprise considering the ongoing tactic of politicizing tragedy deployed by those who’ve made a career out of stoking anti-Muslim bigotry.

Media Matters, an organization that exposes conservative misinformation within U.S. media, recently featured a blog article documenting the right-wing media’s attempt to designate Boko Haram as the face of Islam. One example they highlighted was Fox News’ Megyn Kelly inviting anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali onto her May 12th program to weigh in on the kidnapping. It came as no surprise when Ali, who has a well-documented history of making egregious remarks about Islam, used this as an opportunity to insult the religion.

“You have to understand that somehow it is derived from Islam unreformed,” Ali told Kelly, attempting to frame Islam as the driving force behind Boko Haram’s actions.

Beyond the right-wing media, of course, was the Islamophobic echo chamber ready to use the recent kidnappings to villify Muslims.

Time and again, the anti-Muslim movement and others on the far-Right strive tirelessly to mold tragedy to fit into their anti-Muslim platform. By doing so, it allows them to vindicate their messages and talking points used against American-Muslims. In addition, by claiming groups such as Boko Haram represent Islam, it allows those involved in the movement to justify policies and practices that curb Muslim immigration.

The same tactics were deployed following the recent kidnappings in Nigeria:

  •  The anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America reached out to their member base, saying this “horrific incident is but only one example of the oppressive treatment of women in Sharia-adherent Islamic societies across the globe”
  •  The Clarion Project used the kidnappings to claim violence against women is inherent in Islam. The group then promoted a screening of their controversial film “Honor Diaries” on Capitol Hill.
  •  At Breitbart News, Islamophobic blogger Pamela Geller went after the Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah, who wrote a piece denouncing Boko Haram, especially as a representation of Islam. “The Daily Beast is doing an end run for Islamic jihad when these girls’ lives hang in the balance,” Geller wrote. “That is a different kind of savagery. The Beast is more worried about Islam’s PR than it is in educating the public on the most grave threat to freedom, not just in Nigeria but across the world.”
  •  Geller’s colleague and fellow blogger Robert Spencer was also quick to blame Islam in light of the recent acts of Boko Haram: “While world leaders and mainstream media commentators continue to insist that Boko Haram… [has] nothing to do with Islam, the only people not to have gotten the memo are the members of Boko Haram itself,” he blogged.

The anti-Muslim movement continues capitalize on tragedy to put forth and justify their discriminatory and hateful agenda. Their ongoing efforts to use tragic events in their own interest speaks of far they are willing to go to foment bigotry. And, like clockwork, this will not be the last time.


Image source: Michael Fleshman

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