Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms

Review by Grady Harp

Terrorism … The word that means nothing, yet justifies everything.” —Glenn Greenwald

Washington, DC author Arsalan Iftikhar presents his second book – his first ISLAMIC PACIFISM: Global Muslims in the Post Osama Era published in 2011. Now pesents a most timely new book – SCAPEGOATS: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms. Arsalan is an international human rights lawyer who according to NPRs Michael Martin has ‘become a go-to voice in American media, playing a variety of roles—explaining Islam, decrying Islamic extremism and also what he sees as rising islamophobia.’ Arsalan is also the founder of, senior editor of The Islamic Monthly, and has spoken on the major media outlets.

In his Introduction he states, ‘As I was preparing to submit my first draft of this book to my publisher, I began to hear breaking news about the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, which ultimately claimed 130 innocent lives. For the next week, I spent all my time running between TV and radio studios here in Washington, D.C., doing interviews with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Chuck Todd and fellow panelist Tom Brokaw on NBC’s Meet the Press, on ABC News Nightline and National Public Radio, as well as on overseas networks like Al-Jazeera English (twice in three days) and CCTV, the largest English-language television news network in China. That was just in one week alone. Then, just as I was finishing my revisions on the book, news broke about the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, where a husband and wife Muslim couple named Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik murdered fourteen people in cold blood during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department where the husband worked. As the American public reeled from the latest explosion of mass violence— this one in an otherwise unremarkable suburban California community— the media was once again dominated by discussion of the purported “Muslim” nature of the mass murder. Lost in the all the frantic chatter about San Bernardino was the revelation that the male shooter, Rizwan Farook, had stopped going to mosque over two years prior to the bloodbath, and that one of his victims was a female Muslim colleague who actually attended the same mosque as the shooter once did. It also turned out that the killer’s own brother, Raheel Farook, is a decorated US Navy veteran, who has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. As with the Paris attacks less than three weeks before, I was again swept up in the media frenzy, asked to appear yet again on CNN, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera English, NPR, and ABC. Again, that was in just one week after San Bernardino. Welcome to the life of a Muslim public intellectual in post-9/ 11, post-Paris, post-San Bernardino, and post-whatever-comes-next-in-the-world. When irresponsible political leaders and media talking heads rush to demonize Islam and lump all Muslims— all 1.7 billion of us— with murderous terrorists, it falls to a few “go-to” professional Muslim public intellectuals like me to try to talk America down from that precipice ledge of hysteria. We’re not all terrorists, we’re a peace-loving religion, we condemn the destruction of innocent lives.’ This information about the author is pertinent to the drama that follows.

The excellent synopsis states, ‘When a murderous psychopath goes on a killing spree, law enforcement officials and the media never make his religion the central issue—unless he happens to be a Muslim. Then it sets off another frenzied wave of commentary about the inherent evils that lurk within the Muslim faith. From Fox News talking heads, who regularly smear Muslim leaders as secret terrorists, to Bill Maher, who has made Islam a routine target, it has become widely acceptable to libel a religion with a following of over 1.5 billion people—nearly one-quarter of the world’s population. Now popular commentator Arsalan Iftikhar—better known as “The Muslim Guy”—offers a spirited defense of his faith that is certain to win him wide acclaim—and yes, another round of overheated scolding from the usual media quarters. Iftikahr’s spirited defense of his faith is certain to hit a chord during the 2016 campaign season, as politicians and pundits vie to be the toughest on the block when it comes to escalating the hostilities in the Middle East, often demonizing Islam in the process. With his witty and levelheaded demeanor, the author will cut through all the sound and fury as a voice of sanity and reason.’

But all of this chatter from a reader profoundly moved by this book is impossible to review, so important are the issues. Add to the list of above mentioned events the recent Orlando, Florida PULSE slaughter, and we are left speechless. We MUST re-think our country’s attitude and look at each other as individuals – some consumed by madness, others cowering in the shadows of fear. This is a powerful wakeup call. It is a must read book.

TITLE: Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms
AUTHOR: Arsalan Iftikhar
ISBN-13: 978-1510705753

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