Orlando Shooting And New Islamophobia In US – OpEd


The deadly terrorist attack in Florida by an Afghan-American who sympathized with the ISIS terrorists has, as expected, unleashed a new wave of Islamophobia in US, led by the ultra-nationalist Donald Trump, who has renewed his call for the ban on Muslim travels to US in the wake of the Orlanda shooting that left so many innocent people dead and wounded.

Of course, this leaves the question open, as the Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has rightly stated, why should people be allowed to purchase automatic assault rifles, which can cause mass murder? The US gun lobby is simply too strong to allow a rational debate on this matter, using its influence to re-direct attentions, as Trump has done, simply on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism.

Concerning the latter, there is certainly such a threat, wreaking havoc throughout Middle East and North Africa as well as Europe today, which has grown like a cancerous tumor, as aptly described by President Obama, who is criticized for doing too little, too late vis-à-vis the threat of ISIS. It is, in other words, rather futile to avoid the fact that some radicalized Muslims are sold to the ISIS ideology around the world and we cannot simply argue that this is not an internal Islamic issue — that requires urgent attention by the peace-loving Muslims around the world, many of whom feel targeted as accessories to a collective guilt. No doubt, that is wrong and the vast majority of Muslims world-wide have nothing to do with these abominable acts of terrorism, but the fact still remains that a small radicalized faction of the global Muslim community is capable of disproportionate damage to the well-being and image of this community, calling for strong antidotes in the form of strong public stance against ISIS and other manifestations of Islamist terrorism.

Short of such efforts, the manipulation and exploitation of political Islamophobia by right-wing western politicians will continue without being repudiated by the Muslim communities that are under siege today from two directions, by the radicalized impulse within and the anti-terrorist police surveillance from the without. The more such gruesome acts of pro-ISIS terrorism continue, the more the Muslims in western countries feel the heat of backlashes against them, as a result of their growing stigmatization, resulting in greater bias and discrimination against them. From the point of view of Muslims in the West, the situation is indeed rather dire and can substantially worsen in the (near) future, depending on future acts of terrorism and the official and public responses to them. In the US in particular, it is sadly clear that such acts of terrorism represent so many fresh logs in the furnace of Trumpist Islamophobia, aiding his bid to become the next US president.

Needless to say, it is not easy for the US to discriminate against the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, many of whom reside in US-friendly countries, without facing serious backlashes, such as the flight of Muslim capital and brain power from the US, and further complicating US’s interests abroad, which is why we can remain guardedly hopeful that the brazenly Islamophobic, and quasi-fascistic, Trump will not harvest the popular anger directed at Islamist terrorists to his advantage to the point of stealing the US elections.

But, the pessimism of intellect dictates to keep a healthy doubt on the ability of US public to withstand the allure of new Islamophobia that is geared to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections come November, particularly if further acts of such horrendous terrorism by ISIS sympathizers transpire in US.

Logically speaking, none of such terrorist acts should be pinned on the Muslim community in US, and the political and the religious should not be conflated, but logic would probably prove a scarce commodity and overwhelmed by passion of Islamophobia drawn in blood of American citizens.

This points at a crucial dimension of the new Islamophobia in US, the fact that it is not operating in a total vacuum of truth, but rather an undue generalization, and stigmatization of an entire minority, based on the criminal behavior of some of its members. Trumpist anti-Muslim populism, in turn, feeds on a critical lack of distinction, by lumping the guilty and innocent together, thus sowing the seeds of a new wave of fascistic repression of Muslims in the next administration.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D. is an Iranian-American political scientist and author specializing in Iran’s foreign and nuclear affairs, and author of several books.

2 thoughts on “Orlando Shooting And New Islamophobia In US – OpEd

  • June 14, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I think that was the plan as well as promoting gun control and normalizing mental illness

  • June 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    It astonishes me that this writer simply ignores the fact that both ISIL (ISIS) and mass killings carried out by people like the Orlando shooter are a direct result of the unjustified and highly destructive US/NATO wars in Afghanistan, N. Africa, Libya, Iraq, Syria–which, in every case, have been covertly instigated by the CIA, by US NGO’s, and by the neocons lodged within the US deep state who serve Israeli interests far more directly than they serve America’s true interests. I don’t know whether the majority of the world’s Muslims are peace-loving or not, but the US with its overgrown military/industrial complex (which has a steady need for more threats, and more wars) has 800+ military bases spread around the world and maintains a regular system of military provocations via NATO and the corporations that serve the Pentagon and the Western mass media. As long as the US maintains its erroneous notion that it must be sole global hegemon and as long as it sees every other nation as a threat to its power, we will continue to have acts of “blowback” from “terrorists” like the one in Orlando.


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