Anti-Muslim rhetoric is reaching dangerous levels on both sides of the Atlantic. US Republican politicians have suggested databases for Muslims, closing mosques, interning Muslims and depriving them of constitutional rights. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claims leftists are playing into the hands of a Muslim plot to take over Europe and the anti-Islamic Pegida movement is growing, with a former EDL leader opening a branch in the UK. We’ve seen all this before. Europe’s Jews were subjected to the same hatred, based on lies and fabrications and stoked by self-serving politicians. The similarities are unsettling.
The National Security Network, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, DC, just published a report called Mainstreaming Hate. This policy brief reveals the increasing popularity of a conspiracy theory called “Cultural Jihad”, a concept traced back to a single Muslim Brotherhood article from 1991. Muslims, according to this theory, are perpetrating a co-ordinated plan of global domination. Syrian refugees aren’t victims fleeing war but rather a deliberate invasion of the west, aided by voter-hungry leftists. Muslims are using constitutional rights, the courts and liberal politics to transform western nations. Apparently, millions of Muslims pretend to accept western values as part of a calculated deception called Taqiyya (a concept in Shi’a Twelver Islam intentionally misunderstood by conspiracy theorists). Every single Muslim is part of a fifth column and an enemy of the state, including non-Muslims who show any reluctance to accept this outlandish idea, such as President Obama or, bizarrely, conservative anti-tax campaigner, Grover Norquist. This justifies taking away the rights of Muslims.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were published in 1903 and spread like wildfire through anti-Semitic circles in Europe and abroad. The document claimed to outline a Jewish plot for global domination and justified everything from Russian pogroms to the Holocaust. The Protocols were a complete fraud, exposed by the Times in 1921. But facts seldom get in the way of hatred. The Protocols were taught as fact in Nazi Germany’s schools and many anti-Semites still promote them as fact today. So we’ve been here before. A bizarre theory about a religious plot to take over the world emerges, based on misunderstanding and lies. It makes its way into the conservative mainstream and suddenly politicians are proposing outrageous violations and justifying discrimination. Right-wing voters are easily mobilised by dangerous rhetoric and suddenly western, democratic values give way to oppression.
With so many Muslims living in Europe and America and so many refugees on the way, there is a real danger of history repeating itself. Hatred of Muslims should be seen for what it is – blatant, baseless prejudice. There is no Muslim plot to dominate the world, no “invasion” of refugees determined to use the rights we give them to destroy our way of life. Cultural jihad is a hideous fantasy that must be stamped out immediately. Innocent Muslims fleeing terror are not the enemy. They are vulnerable people. Hateful conspiracies endanger law abiding Muslims and undermine the very values their promoters claim to represent.