Responding to "Islamo-Fascism Week" on College Campuses

ING News & Information, 10/19/07

In this edition:

  • Responding to “Islamo-Fascism Week” on College Campuses
  • Creating a Long Term Program that Provides Education for Mutual Respect on College Campuses. To download ING’s Guidelines for “Educating for Mutual Respect” on college campuses, go to: https://ing.org/uploads/EducatingforMutualRespect.pdf or this site: https://ing.org/speakers/subpage.asp?num=109&pagenum=19 and click on the link titled, “Educating for Mutual Respect.” Guidelines includes answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Islam & Muslims.

Responding to “Islamo-Fascism Week” on College Campuses

From Oct. 22 – 26, a campaign titled “Islamo-Facism Awareness Week” has been organized on campuses across the country. The event is being organized and promoted by David Horowitz and his Horowitz Freedom Center. Mr. Horowitz claims, “During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever – Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.” While the issues raised are important for Americans to educate themselves about and understand, such discussions should not paint all Muslims with the same brush, nor use this campaign as a forum that rather than sincerely examining critical issues with the aim to reform or promote understanding instead increases intolerance, fear, and bigotry in a climate of prejudice towards Muslims that is already at an unprecedented level.

It is documented that campaigns that demonize an entire group of people, as occurred before the Holocaust, and more recently before the Bosnian genocide are one of the many gradual steps towards genocide.

(From “The 6 Steps from Discrimination to Extermination” by Bart Charlow, Executive Director of the SVCCJ. They include: 1. Spreading myths or stereotypes about people which result in denigration and social distancing from them; 2. Creating mistrust about a people that isolates that group; 3. Fabricating a threat they pose to the public, which creates agreement with illegal laws or restrictions upon the group; 4. De-humanizing the target group, which prepares the public for suspension of its rights; 5. Isolation & concentration, which ensures that the group is away from the public eye, where it is subject to oppression; and the last step is the resultant atrocities that take various forms. 6. Genocide).

Much as one disagrees with this campaign to denigrate an entire religious group, it is important to emphasize that freedom of speech is guaranteed by our Constitution and part of what makes this country great, and that censoring ideas we disagree with is not the solution. However, hate speech which vilifies an entire group can have dangerous consequences in the form of hate crimes and violence, and all efforts should be made to avoid any negative consequences of this campaign. Report any malicious actions to the appropriate authorities on campus.

At the same time, responding to this campaign in a reactionary manner merely reinforces the very stereotypes that the campaign seeks to promote. It is commendable that Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) have launched a campaign, “Peace, Not Prejudice” as a means to promoting understanding and tolerance.

To aid in efforts to promote understanding and tolerance, ING has made available the following resources that can be utilized in providing education about Islam and Muslims:

1) ING’s MSA Coordinator’s Start-Up Kit that describes in detail the steps for outreach and education on college campuses, and strategies for such a program. To order the Kit, visit: https://ing.org/speakers/finalsubpage.asp?num=50&pagenum=109 or write to Grace Fong, Program Manager at [email protected] to request a copy.

2) We also invite MSAs to utilize ING’s many affiliated bureaus across the country who have long experience in addressing issues and topics relating to Islam and Muslims. To contact the ING affiliated bureau nearest you, visit: https://ing.org/affiliates/default.asp

3) Additionally ING has presentations available in PowerPoint format complete with slides and accompanying notes on a variety of topics relating to Islam and Muslims. Presentations include:

– “Orientation on Islam and Muslims”
– “Women in Islam”
– “Women in Islam: Myths vs. Realities”
– “Single Issue Slides including:
*“Women’s Rights in Islam”
*“What is Jihad?”
*“Islam and Democracy”
*“What is Islamic Law?”
*“Islam and Minorities”

Upon request, these presentations can be either express mailed or emailed to you for use in delivering your own presentation. To request a presentation, please write to Grace Fong, Program Manager at [email protected].

ING has also made available select questions and answers pertinent to issues that may be raised during the week for use by students attempting to explain issues relating to Islam and Muslims. These answers to common Frequently Asked Questions about Islam and Muslims were formulated by well known scholars and compiled in an easy to read format. They are available as part of a comprehensive document titled, Educating for Mutual Respect, which can be downloaded at: https://ing.org/uploads/EducatingforMutualRespect.pdf

Additionally we remind Muslim students to adhere to Islamic principles in responding to this campaign, following the example and manners of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him), and not allowing emotions to lead to anything less than the forbearance, compassion, and self control that he displayed in the face of discrimination, and far worse, persecution.

Demonstrating Islam in one’s actions is far more important than defending Islam with one’s words. Therefore, students should avoid the following:

  • Reactionary behavior
  • Angry responses
  • Shouting matches
  • Engaging people in useless arguments unless they are sincerely interested in understanding, and you are confident in your ability to respond calmly and logically
  • Defending the indefensible. Acknowledge that not everything Muslims do is right; Muslims do not always adhere to Islam in their behavior, just as Christians and Jews do not always represent their faith.
  • There are many problems in the Muslim world today, and Muslims need to own up to them. Many of the issues mentioned in the films being shown are due to a misunderstanding and misapplication of Islam, such as honor killings, which are explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an, domestic violence against women, Female Genital Mutilation, and others.
  • Clarify what is part of Islam versus and what is cultural practice or a twisting or misapplication of the faith.

Creating a Long Term Program That Provides Education for Mutual Respect on College Campuses

The goal of providing ongoing education and understanding about Islam and Muslims, and forging alliances based on mutual respect is one that should be part of every MSA’s focus and planning. To this end, ING would like to offer its services enumerated above, and any other support it can offer.

The MSA Coordinator’s Start-Up Kit can provide a blueprint for developing an outreach program on your campus, and ING’s resources can supply the needed materials to execute the program. (Please refer to the points mentioned in Part I).

Additionally, ING makes the following recommendations for long term outreach:

  • Develop and foster long t
    erm relations with other faith and ethnic groups on campus.
  • In addition to the traditional Islam Awareness Week, consider holding an interfaith event or week that focuses on shared values and commonalities between faiths.
  • Meet with campus administration to discuss issues of concern or prejudice.
  • Make sure that your MSA library has appropriate and accurate literature on pertinent issues available for distribution.
  • Train students in speaking about or answering common FAQ’s on Islam and Muslims

For further details and tips for providing education about Islam and Muslims on college campuses, you may download ING’s guide for “Educating for Mutual Respect,” which includes select answers to relevant FAQ’s. To download the guide, go to: https://ing.org/uploads/EducatingforMutualRespect.pdf