Dienstag, August 24, 2010

USA: Islam ist die neue Schreckgestalt in Zeiten der Unsicherheit

Die USA haben der Islamophobie länger Widerstand geleistet als viele Länder Europas, dafür scheint es sie jetzt um so schwerer zu erwischen. Tony Karon zieht in The National einen Vergleich zum Antisemitismus nach der Wirtschaftskrise der frühen dreißiger Jahre – Grundlage ist ein Hass auf Muslime, dem bereits zahlreiche Moscheen zum Opfer fielen und die auch vor Präsident Barack Obama nicht Halt macht:

‘President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life,” read a statement by the White House last Thursday. He prays every day and receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning, the statement added.

That a statement affirming the president’s faith was deemed politically necessary in a country founded on the separation of church and state is testimony to the extraordinary times in which Barack Obama has come to occupy the Oval Office.

The statement was prompted by last week’s release of a survey by the Pew Research Center that revealed that almost one in five Americans (18 per cent) believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Only 34 per cent correctly identified him as a Christian, and 43 per cent expressed confusion over his religious identity.

Notably, the Pew survey was conducted before the surge of Islamophobic hysteria over plans to build an Islamic centre a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.

The opposition to Park51 is mostly based on ignorance fueled by cynical politicians – Republican presidential hopefuls Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich foremost among them. Opinion polls show a strong majority of Americans opposed to “a mosque at Ground Zero”, even though the mosque is in no sense at the World Trade Center site, and it’s hard to seriously describe as “hallowed ground” a precinct whose current occupants include a strip club, a sex shop, beauty parlours and endless fast food outlets.

Nevermind that there’s a mosque right inside the Pentagon, also attacked on September 11, or that there were plenty of Muslim victims in those attacks. No, the narrative of the Gingriches and Palins holds that this Islamic centre is a triumphal monument to the hijackers, and must be stopped.

(...) And in a media culture as frenetic as it is fractured, facts are increasingly unable to get in the way of a good argument. But it’s not simply religious confusion that has so many believing Mr Obama is a Muslim. In the narrative of recent American nationalism, “Muslim” often serves as a signifier for a new alien peril out to destroy America. In other words, “Islam” in fearful nationalist minds has replaced communism as the national bogey.

Daniel Luban, a writer on Middle East affairs, has noted that the new Islamophobia, which has intensified since Obama’s election, has much in common with old-fashioned American anti-Semitism. “Once again, jingoistic politicians and commentators posit a religious conspiracy breeding within western society, pledging allegiance to an alien power, conspiring with allies at the highest levels of government to overturn the existing order.”

(...) The furore over Park51 is but the most visible instance of a nasty wave of Islamophobia. In the past few years, dozens of mosques have been vandalised or attacked by arsonists, and opposition to the construction of new mosques has become commonplace at town hall meetings. By declaring the Manhattan mosque a campaign issue in November’s election, Republican strategists appear to have identified Islamophobia as their new Southern Strategy.

(...) As Germany in the 1930s showed, people watching their whole way of life crumble amid social and economic crises can be more vulnerable to demagogues blaming their plight on “outside” forces.

Inwiefern Propagandisten aus dem rechten Flügel der Republikaner für diese Entwicklung verantwortlich sind, analysiert darüber hinaus das Blog Media Matters for America.