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I’m proud to share with you today a report that my friend Wajahat Ali has been working on for more than 6 months with the DC-based think tank, Center for American Progress, entitled “Fear Inc., The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

The report can be downloaded from here: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/islamophobia.html

Wajahat Ali was lead researcher and writer for this expose on how just 7 groups have given $43 million over 10 years to a small, inter-connected group of people and organizations responsible for mainstreaming fear, bigotry and hate against Muslims and Islam in America.

Along with co-authors and researchers Eli Clifton, Matt Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir and great editorial help of Ed Paisely, Tara McGuinness and Sally Steenland, Wajahat Ali has for the first time really dissected and exposed this network, categorized it, named all the names, connected the dots, traced the funding and $$ money trail, and shown the genesis of several fictitious talking points and garbage that you hear on the mainstream news such as:

– “President Obama is a Muslim”
– “Sharia is a threat to America”
– “Mosques are Trojan Horses”
– “Radical Islam has infiltrated America, the government and mainstream Muslim organizations”
– “There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Traditional Islam is radical Islam”
– “Practicing Muslims cannot be loyal Americans” and so forth.

The Network can be broken into 5 categories:
1. The Money Trail – Funders
2. Islamophobia Scholars and Experts
3. Grassroots Organizations and Religious Right
4. The Media Megaphone
5. The Political Players

The CAP research team wrote this public report for a mainstream, wide audience. It is timely, with an election looming in which politicians and zealots are trying to exploit fear, hysteria and ignorance and divide Americans based on religious and ethnic lines. This has happened before to Jews, Catholics, Japanese Americans and Gays and Lesbians.

The facts in this report are meant to empower communities with knowledge, facts and information with the hopes of marginalizing these anti-American, divisive, fear-mongering voices so we can return to a moderate course and partake in civil discourse.

The introduction to the report has an important note about the term Islamophobia itself:

Before we begin, a word about the term “Islamophobia.” We don’t use this term lightly. We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

It is our view that in order to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values, we must return to a fact-based civil discourse regarding the challenges we face as a nation and world. This discourse must be frank and honest, but also consistent with American values of religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and respect for pluralism. A first step toward the goal of honest, civil discourse is to expose — and marginalize — the influence of the individuals and groups who make up the Islamophobia network in America by actively working to divide Americans against one another through misinformation.

Take a look at the report online – or download the entire report as a PDF. I will be discussing the findings and going step by step through the report in a series of posts after Ramadan concludes.

For comment on the report itself or to set up a call to discuss the report findings with your communities, feel free to contact the author, Wajahat Ali wajahatmali@gmail.com.

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