Strike

06.03.14

Anti-Islam Talk from Conservatives

As More and More Muslims Face Anti-Islam Speech from Republicans and Conservatives, Some Start to Question the Role of Free Speech.

At the Anarchist Book Fair in March in Oakland, one t-shirt would certainly have had Republicans and their fellow Conservatives in an uproar. In bold lettering "General Strike" was printed on the shirt, in Arabic nonetheless, showing the solidarity labor activists have with the efforts of Arabs, predominantly Muslims, in recent years. GOP and other conservative pundits, on the other hand, are continuing their attacks on Islam, especially the role of women in the world's second largest religion.  

It has gotten so bad that the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the GOP, and the GOP Women's Group, to end their promotion of known anti-Muslim speakers at their events.  

The protest in March, however, has fallen on deaf ears as more and more Republican events see anti-Islam and anti-Muslim woman bashing. The Director of the CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Corey Saylor wrote a letter to the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) calling into question their continued support of events where speakers attack Islam and Muslim women: "CAIR researchers have found a troubling trend of anti-Muslim sentiment in materials on your organization's website and in activities of NFRW clubs."  

The NFRW did not respond to messages left for a comment on the accusation of an anti-Islam slant.  

Anti-Muslim women speakers have been reported in California's Orange County, Leesburg, Florida, Bainbridge Island, Washington and a number of other locales across the United States, leading many to question the role of conservative groups and their role in bridging the education gap that often accompanies anti-Islamic sentiments and anti-Muslim women attacks.  

"What we are seeing right now is a large and overarching attack on Islam that is centering on the most visible example of the oppression conservatives like to point out: women," Youssra Abdel Khalek, a Muslim-American graduate student, told The Daily Beast in San Francisco.  

The young women's rights activist, who is looking at the role of Muslim women in American media as part of her thesis, believes that the power of the conservative right should not be underestimated.  

"A lot of conservative women, those who push family values on a daily basis, are scared of strong, even veiled, Muslim women and this is being seen at events where the veil and the Muslim male's oppression of women across the globe is being spouted," she continued.  

One of the leading voices in the attack playbook of conservatives has been Pamela Gellar, a blogger turned political pundit known for her anti-Islam stance, who has featured at a number of NFRW-sponsored events over the past 12 months. Her viewpoints have been largely contested by Muslim-Americans, who have called on her to end her Islamophobic positions in order to bridge the increasing gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims in the US.  

When she was barred from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2013 over her religiously motivated attacks, she rsponded by arguing CPAC board members were secretly "members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic agents."  

With the Republican Party seemingly continuing to push the fear of Islam in America and the so-called spread of "Sharia" in American schools, Muslim women continue to face an uncertain future, one that is threatening their belief in America as a land of opportunity.  

At a local meeting of Muslim women in the Bay Area, the 30-something mothers questioned the role of free speech when it directly affects the safety of their children. "I have two children and both of them are girls. They don't wear a headscarf, but they are verbally attacked on a daily basis because I wear the veil," said Salma, 34, of San Mateo.

"I see a direct relation between all the anti-Islam things I hear on news programs that I wonder if there is a time for this to stop and be illegal. It is a real concern we all have on a daily basis."