By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota
This is not to say that Islamophobia has not already cost a barrage of human lives. In addition to direct hate crimes committed against Muslims and Muslim-looking individuals in the US and Europe, hate speech against Muslims or at least the broad criticism of Muslims’ way of life is to blame, in my opinion, for the general public’s inaction toward the thousands of lost lives deemed “collateral damage” during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So to me, the terrorist attacks that took place recently in Norway are not the first time that anti-Muslim hate speech has cost innocent lives. What’s different about it, however, is that this time it cost European lives as opposed to Arab or Afghani ones.
This calls into question the standards of some media outlets that exposed the hate mongering of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer after Europeans were killed, yet failed to do so as Non-Western lives were transgressed upon. Anti-Muslim pundits did not only influence the Norway attacker but also people at various levels of our society, including the FBI and political leaders who make decisions that can affect Muslim lives here and abroad.
It is time to stop giving air space to people devoted to bashing Islam and Muslims. How it came about that pundits in America think it’s ok to call for a Jihad against Islam itself, a religion shared by over a fifth of the world’s population, is beyond me. Not even Saudi Arabian TV would ever host a Muslim extremist calling for the “defeat of Christianity”. So to me it is beyond excessive for a station viewed as “moderate” like Minnesota Public Radio to repeatedly host a hate monger like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the dubious atheist who explicitly calls for all religions to join hands and “defeat Islam”.
This nonsense has been allowed to fester for too long. Extreme Islamophobic pundits need to be in the fringe radio frequencies where they belong, not on major stations and certainly not on MPR. This is an open invitation to all media outlets to think of what they’re propagating. They should ask themselves a simple question: would it be ok if the pundit they’re hosting is bashing another religion, like Buddhism or Judaism? Hate speech is hate speech, and it is bound to cost lives here and overseas unless exposed and stopped.