Massive ‘Islamophobia industry’ flourishes in US
RT:There's been a whole string of incidents in Europe similar to the attack in Texas, in which two gunmen were killed Sunday outside a controversial art event depicting the Prophet Muhammad cartoons and dedicated to free speech. Has a new threat now arrived in America?
Mohammed Ansar: Clearly what we have seen is that the attacks have been going on in Europe is the opening of a long-held debate around freedom of expression, against freedom to offend. Now we’ve seen this being picked up by what they call the counter-jihadists movement here in America. And there is an estimated $200 million Islamophobia industry now in the US. And so we’ve seen - shortly after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo - there was a stand by the Prophet Mohammed conference at this exact same conference center in Garland, Texas, and now we’ve seen hate preachers who have been banned from coming to Europe like Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, now have something which will ostensibly incite hate and violence. Now we’ve seen a reaction and I think it’s to be deplored on all sides – the right to offend, the right to incite violence and hatred, but also the violence and hatred that ensues. At this time our thoughts and concerns have to be with the families of those people who were slain.
RT:How do you put an end to such attacks? What is fuelling them in the first place?
MA: The answer to hate is not more hate. The answer to hate has to be to increase love, peace, tolerance and coexistence in society. In the US they have a far more difficult situation. In the UK and in Europe we have Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which talks about the freedom of expression. Much is then held in Article 10, part 2, which talks about limitations on freedom of speech. So we have nation states in Europe who are quite used to putting certain limitations around hate speech, around attacking minority groups and spreading hate and fear and incitement of violence even in the national interest in certain instances. In the US, in their Conventions, they do have a constitutional right to freedom of expression. However we’ve seen three Democratic Congressmen, I think we saw Keith Ellison, Andre Carson, and Joe Crowley who came forward and asked the Homeland Security and also the Secretary of State, John Kerry, to put limitations on this. They said that there is bedrock of freedom of speech in the US; however what we don’t want to have is incitement of violence and hate speech.
RT:Incidents like this do breed hate for Islam, while there are millions of Muslims who are non-violent law abiding citizens all across Europe and in the US. How can governments address those tensions?
MA: Hate preachers like Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will want to give the idea that there are millions of Muslims who have radical and extremist ideas. Muslims have been living, co-existing and integrating in communities. They are in fact the bedrock of the European civilization whether it’s science or learning or education. So I think the first thing we have to do is to stop the provocation and stop the hate speech. There is no kind of apology for the retaliation through violence. So people have the right of freedom of expression. People also have the right not to be limited by taboos of other people in the society. However there is a burgeoning industry now in provoking non-Muslims in Europe and in the US to attack Muslims. And this is disproportional. We saw the argument with Charlie Hebdo before: they are not equal opportunities offenders; they are targeting disproportionally ethnic minorities and Muslims. So I think we have to restate what the ground rules are. You have the right to freedom of expression, freedom of speech. You don’t have the right to incite hate; you don’t have the right to incite violence. And it is certainly far more offensive to respond in violence than it is to have the freedom of expression which some people may find troublesome.
The US is not some sort of an island that ISIS could not reach
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack at an exhibition in Texas featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The announcement was made on the group's radio station. According to Marwa Osman, political Commentator in Beirut, this could very well be the case.
RT:Do you believe this claim made by Islamic State?
MO: Anything is anticipated from the Islamic State. How hard can it be for the supporters of ISIS who actually abide by the Wahhabi religion not to perform anything that is considered dangerous in any nation? These people have come from all over the world to Syria, to Libya, to the Middle East to fight for some reason- no one knows why. It is obvious when they return back to their homeland it is going to be dangerous and it is going to be risky. Whether it is a provocative event or not, it is going to be risky having them back in their homeland…
RT:With this announcement does this mean that Islamic State is now functioning in the US?
MO: It has been functioning in the US before it even came to the Middle East, before it came to us and brought its terror to us… The US is not some sort of an island that ISIS could not reach. It can simply reach the youth of America via Twitter, Facebook, via social media in general. So it was anticipated, but the event as well was by itself provocative for such groups. They went out and performed their terror. Here we’re talking about two different events that came into one event. The FBI already knew about one of the suspects - his surname is Simpson for the irony. They knew that he was an actual suspect and they did nothing, he was free. Talking about the event, you have people for months planning an anti-Islamic event to bring out certain cartoons against Prophet Mohammed...
RT:What about a US political agenda? Does this work for Washington that ISIS is allegedly in America?
MO: Of course, it is going to work as much as it is working in France after what happened at Charlie Hebdo. It is going to have the same effect on the entire American public, not only on the Islamic public. Though, it’s going to be more of a direct insult, let’s say on the Islamic public in America. Let’s be very frank here: whether we support it or not we’re [Islamic people] going to be targets.
RT:The US military launching Jade Helm 15 over the summer including a series of training, military drills across the south-west with over a thousand special-ops troops. ISIS is also operating in the south-west. Is it time for conspiracy theories to put on their tinfoil hats?
MO: It is not a conspiracy theory. It is planning, it is tactics, it is a full-time strategy that the US is working on which explains what is going on in the Middle East. In some countries they are fighting ISIS, and in the others - they are sending arms for them to fight people or groups who the US thinks that they have certain interest in eliminating from the entire region of the Middle East. It is more obvious in the Middle East than it is in the West. But now when it hits the West’s homeland, people there are going to start thinking about it. Unfortunately the propaganda, the media there is going to play a very good game to convince the public that now ISIS is a big threat and we have to go and fight. And the people will not know whether the US will go and fight or where this fighting will happen.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.