Last month, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) published a 100-page booklet that attacks many institutions for educating citizens about radical Islam. CAIR’s product is entitled “A National Strategy to Confront Islamophobia.”  The publication cannot be dismissed as mere propaganda or ideological screed. The booklet is meant to be a game changer in the public debate between liberal democracy’s principle of freedom of speech and the increasingly popular politically correct self-censorship in the United States.

    If liberty to discuss Islamic values, beliefs, and scriptures is abridged out of fear of prosecution for hate speech, then CAIR will have accomplished the objective of this publication. The pamphlet identifies examples of alleged Islamophobia in several sectors of American society while suggesting tactics to force a change in behavior.

    The astute reader will recognize the study as a piece of pseudo-scholarship. Nevertheless, this product is a sophisticated and nuanced effort to deceive the western public. It is crafted to elicit sympathy for a purportedly oppressed Muslim minority within American society. In this vein, the publication is designed to exploit the average American’s sense of fair play and belief that all citizens are entitled to freedom of religion as well as to expect equality for all before the law.

    The CAIR booklet asserts the need for Muslims to go on the offensive against a network of alleged anti-Islamic organizations.  The study posits that the American public is suspicious of Islam.  CAIR blames American fear and ignorance of Muslims on an “inner and outer core” of about 75 organizations. CAIR seems to believe that these organizations are guilty of consciously and/or inadvertently fueling the American public’s misperceptions about Muslims by lying about the beneficent nature of Islam.

    CAIR’s study proposes a “blacklist” of these organizations, think tanks, and media channels that must be exposed as purveyors of hate speech.  The ultimate objective of CAIR’s booklet is to publicly marginalize these institutions by grouping them with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.

    CAIR also suggests that the blacklist includes groups led by former or moderate Muslims who are struggling to reveal radical Islam’s true nature. For instance, the CAIR booklet condemns as Islamophobic the Muslim apostate and intrepid author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Muslim reformer Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, head of the American Forum for Islamic Democracy.
    In the booklet’s introduction, CAIR’s Executive Director, Nihad Awad, states that the organization’s new strategy is to change an American environment where anti-Islam prejudice is accepted, into an atmosphere where anti-Muslim prejudice is socially unacceptable. Awad states that he wants Islamophobia to be assigned to “the same social dustbin as white supremacism and anti-Semitism.”

    This posture seems to be an effort to wrap CAIR’s cause in America’s storied Civil Rights movement as well as our country’s intolerance for institutional prejudice toward the Jewish people. CAIR’s apparent effort to equate infringements on Muslim civil rights in America with slavery’s thralldom of tens of millions of Africans and the mass slaughters of Jews over the centuries is quite a stretch. In fact, it defies credulity. Moreover, prejudicial acts against Mosques and Korans are prompted by genuine fear of those Muslims who have murdered in Islam’s name. The enslavement of African-Americans and the holocaust of Jews were not acts motivated by fear but by greed and religious hatred. Here, CAIR’s analogical reasoning fails to convince.

    Awad defines Islamophobia as “a tool contrived by a Euro-Centric World to maintain its supremacy.”  This accusatory definition could allow groups like CAIR to label any defense of Western Civilization’s values as Islamophobic. The CAIR pamphlet lays out a comprehensive strategy to disarm those groups assigned to the Blacklist. CAIR hopes that the US government will declare the products of these groups hate speech and therefore potential hate crimes.

    CAIR fully intends to employ the threat of legal action to cow these groups into engaging in self-censorship.  This objective is clear, as the CAIR piece specifically targets films like “Honor Diaries,”  which focuses on the murder of women by male relatives, on the assumption that these females bring dishonor upon their families.

    CAIR intends to adopt an aggressive approach to monitor every aspect of American society for signs of Islamophobia. The document even outlines its future plans to assure that educational texts present a favorable historical image of Islam.  CAIR promises that it will challenge by legal means any local ordinances that it judges to be Islamophobic.

    CAIR accuses the U.S. media of anti-Islamic bias. This seems to be a dubious accusation as most news commentators go out of there way not to offend the sensitivities of Muslims. Moreover, on the whole, officials in Washington refuseto speak the obvious, that terrorist violence by the perpetrators is often justified by quotations from Koranic verses.

    What the CAIR booklet omits is a good deal more significant than what is included in the text. For instance, nowhere in the study is there a hint that Islam needs to reexamine itself for culpability, much less consider any call for religious reform.

    CAIR’s study also fails to acknowledge that it speaks for but a fraction of the American Islamic community. CAIR is inextricably linked to the strict Salafi Sunni strain of Islam practiced in Arab Gulf countries, called Wahhabism. CAIR and many other organizations are the recipients of huge sums of capital from Saudi Arabia’s religious institutions.   There is no mention of Shia Muslim communities in the United States or Sufi sects. Neither is there any mention that only a small percentage of American Muslims identify with CAIR  with most U.S. citizens of the Islamic Faith having no ties to the strain of Islam heralded by the organization.

    Finally, in a display of disingenuous patience and flexibility, the CAIR document generously expresses its welcome of questions about Islam and asserts that mere inquiry does not constitute Islamophobia. But who determines what is hostile, or what is an innocent question of motive and/or objective? This study is an imaginative but ultimately disingenuous depiction of Islam as a persecuted religion in the United States.