The White House has just announced the U.S.'s first "National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia." It will aim to "counter the scourge of Islamophobia and hate in all its forms," said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement. "For too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim, such as Arabs and Sikhs, have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents."
Although the White House cited the recent Mideast conflict as creating a troubling rise in "Islamophobia," hence the urgent need for a new strategy, Biden himself has been lamenting anti-Muslim sentiment well before the recent war. Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, he complained that:
...so many Muslims [are] being targeted with violence. No one, no one should [be] discriminated against or be oppressed for their religious beliefs.... Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exists.
Usually defined as "unfounded fear of and hostility towards Islam," Islamophobia is reportedly responsible for a number of negative stereotypes concerning Muslims — that they are violent, hostile, and uncivilized — which causes Americans to dislike and fear Muslims.
The problem, however, is that a 2022 poll has thrown a wrench in all of these claims. As it happens, Muslims — those who know Islam more than anyone else — are more Islamophobic than non-Muslims in America. They are more, not less, prone to believing that fellow Muslims are violent, hostile, and uncivilized.
The poll was conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), a Muslim think tank headquartered in Dearborn, Mich. Its findings were so inescapable that ISPU — whose entire existence revolves around presenting Muslims as victims of Islamophobia in America — had to conclude that "over time, Islamophobia has declined among other groups but has increased among Muslims."
Consider the following excerpts from the report (while taking certain words and phrases employed by the Muslim think tank — such as "tropes" and "false notions" — with a grain of salt):
Muslims, themselves, are by far the most Islamophobic group when it comes to the false notion that Muslims are more prone to violence than others. One-quarter of American Muslims (24%) somewhat or strongly agree with this trope, which is at least about two times more likely than other groups. In comparison, 9% of Jews, 8% of Catholics, 11% of Protestants, 12% of white Evangelicals, 13% of the nonaffiliated, and 9% of the general public agree with the idea that Muslims are more prone to violence than others.... Roughly one-quarter of Arab Muslims (23%) agree that Muslims are more prone to violence than others....
American Muslims (19%) are more likely to agree with this idea [that "most Muslims living in the US are hostile to the US"] than are Jews (4%), Protestants (10%), the nonaffiliated (7%), and the general public (8%)....
[Then there is] the erroneous idea that most Muslims living in the United States are less civilized than other groups. Again, we find that Muslims exhibit higher levels of endorsement of this trope with American Muslims nearly three times more likely than white Evangelicals to do so. Nearly one in five Muslims (19%) agree with this trope, compared with 5% of Jews, 6% of Catholics, 5% of Protestants, 7% of white Evangelicals, 5% of the nonaffiliated, and 5% of the general public. The 19% of Muslims who agree with this idea includes 11% who 'strongly agree' compared with 1-2% of all other groups surveyed.
These findings are eye-opening, to say the least. Remember, the entire premise of Islamophobia is that, in their ignorance of "true Islam," xenophobic Americans are prone to stereotyping Muslims as violent, hostile, and uncivilized.
Yet behold the truth: no one segment of the American population sees Muslims as violent, hostile, and uncivilized as much as those who are best acquainted with everything to do with being Muslim — that is, Muslims themselves.
One wonders if Biden's first "National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia" will address this unpopular fact — and if so, how?
Incidentally, we are always being admonished to "listen" to Muslims. When it comes to evaluating which aspects of Islam are "tropes" and which are not, perhaps we should start.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.