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Anti-Islam Film Linked to 'Islamophobic Industry'

Experts say "Innocence of Muslims", the film that incited rioting in the Middle East, is the product of a well-financed vocal minority that has been fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington says the movie, which mocks Islam's Prophet Muhammad, was produced by what he describes as a hate-mongering "industry" in the United States. "This industry that's developed here sees Islam as the problem," he said.

Tarin says it was created after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington 11 years ago.

Pamela Geller is a spokeswoman for Stop Islamization of America. Websites like hers have flourished on the Internet and other media, according to a report last year by the Center for American Progress research organization.

At a religion newswriters conference last year, Faiz Shakir, co-author of the report titled "Fear Incorporated," presented his findings.

"Fear Incorporated is the small network of actors in this country who've been building an effort over the past decade to try to propagate baseless conspiracy theories that cast aspersions on all Muslims in America," he explained.

Shakir says they have received tens of millions of dollars in funding from anti-Islamic groups. "So it pays to be an anti-Muslim hater," he added.

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik's notes suggest he was inspired by anti-Islamic rhetoric from America.

"It's a transatlantic activity," said Jocelyne Cesari, a political scientist at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies here in Washington. "I have noticed the same topics, the same arguments, and the same figures actually circulating between Europe and the U.S."

Cesari cites Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who two years ago joined protests against the construction of a mosque near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York. She says Islamophobia is a European invention.

"And all this popular imagery of the prophet [Muhammad] as being an anti-Christ, the prophet as being a sexually obsessed person, all these kinds of things are not new. You can read them even in medieval times," she noted.

Cesari warns that extremists on both sides are feeding off each others' negative stereotypes and warns that it could get a lot worse unless more moderate voices prevail.

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