News / Middle East

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.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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Comments page of 2
by: Malek Towghi, Ph.D. from: Michigan, USA
September 15, 2012 3:18 PM
I am afraid this trash and vulgar film will be another tool in the hands of the 'Politically Correct' , particularly of the academia, to further suppress genuine and factual critique of Islam. These ultra politically correct include the doctrinaire Left and anarchists who believe in the maxim "The enemy (Islam) of my enemy (West/USA) is my friend", the duped Liberals ... and those institutions of higher education for whom keeping 'good' public relations is more important than fulfilling their primary mission, encouraging and inculcating critical approach among students.

by: C.C. Carnes from: Los Angeles
September 15, 2012 2:44 PM
Experts? Really? One highly-biased head of a Muslim Political Action Group constitutes "experts?"

Tens of millions of dollars given to Anti-muslim groups. I doubt it! Anti-muslim rhetoric is a grassroots movement by individuals threatened by Islamic terrorism. There's no signficant money being thrown around by Anti-Muslim groups.

"So it pays to be an anti-Muslim hater," means that it pays to be a Muslim lover!

This is such bad journalism that it completely undermines the author's integrity.

by: Joe from: Virginia
September 15, 2012 10:05 AM
Mike, read Hitchens' 'Missionary Position' to see why your'e wring about Mother Theresa. You are equally ignorant about Iskam I hate to say.

by: Gamaliel from: New Jersey
September 15, 2012 8:02 AM
The attack on the embassy in Libya was planned before the movie ever came out to coincide with 9/11. There have been over 1900 Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11 that occurred before the movie. The movie is an excuse.

by: No dhimmi tool
September 14, 2012 9:17 PM
What "experts?" That's completely lame. A Coptic Christian sick of seeing his people abused by VIOLENT MUSLIMS made this film.

Whose side is the VOA on? Certainly not the truth! Why do you pander to Islam? How disgraceful.

by: Mike from: California
September 14, 2012 8:13 PM
I don't know if "industry" is the correct word. Let's be clear: If you tried to make Mother Teresa into a hated and feared social movement, you would need billions of dollars and about 500 years. Why? Because of all the good, and the lack of any real bad. It does not take an "industry" with other groups and movements as they provide such undeniable proof of their badness on TV and the web. Does showing the facts on TV or in a movie constitute an "industry" or a conspiracy? It may feel that way to those with hurt feelings.
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