Although an atheist, discrimination against Muslims is something I feel strongly about. Following an interview I conducted with Reza Aslan, I wrote extensively about whether or not atheists contribute to xenophobic fears of Muslims. (The answer was, for the most part, no, although there are some bad apples.) In Part III of these posts, I argued against Sam Harris’s contention that Islam is the primary reason for the violence in the Middle East and the terrorism coming out of it. Recently, Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times, wrote a column about a new book which argues that it wasn’t so much Islam, but Islamic law, that held back the development of the Middle East.
|At The Rally to Restore Sanity.|
Additionally, a new post by my fellow blogger Tom Beasley is up discussing the issue of Islamaphobia. As Tom makes clear, finding a religion to be false and, in many respects ethically abhorrent, does not mean one believes that followers of that faith should be assumed to be any less decent or deserving of equal treatment than a Christian, a Hindu, or an atheist. Atheists are, moreover, generally believers in freedom of worship and expression (despite the stereotypes that we want to “force” disbelief on people) and most of us do not advocate policies such as the minaret ban in Sweden or the hysteria over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” I am happy to say that our blog has been quite consistent about separating our criticism of Islam from prejudice against Muslims.
Finally, I feel that among many people, there is a strong strain of denial about Islamaphobia – “Oh come on,” our hypothetical backlasher says, “it is not like Muslims have been discriminated against or anything since 9/11. Not anything that bad, at least.” Well, yes they have. If the reports of increased incidents of discrimination do not convince you, then try something a little more personal: This American Life had an excellent show that told the story of how harassment in school actually broke apart a Muslim family in America. I challenge anyone to listen to the entire story and not feel heartbroken.