MOHAN J.DUTTA | 17 MARCH, 2019
The Islamophobia Industry and the Christchurch Terror Attack: A Call to Dismantle Hate
The Islamophobia industry is big business.
The shootings carried out by right wing White extremists in Christchurch are part of a global network of racist terror that are often legitimized, sponsored, and reproduced by the structures of the state.
The manifesto crafted by one of the White terrorists who carried out the terror makes reference to the U.S. President Donald Trump and draws on the hate propaganda that is a key element of U.S. public relations.
Islamophobia, the fear of the Muslim, is strategically manufactured through various forms of messages of hatred, legitimized and reproduced by the media, and manipulated by parties toward political gains.
The globalization of the Islamophobia industry
The Islamophobia industry is big business. The New Zealand shootings depict the wide reach of the industry and its global appeal.
From the transnational corporations feeding the “war on terror” to the digital media industries that profit from selling the hatred of Muslims to think tanks that are set up to cultivate strategically the fear of the Muslim, Islamophobia generates ratings, advertising dollars, and new markets for products of hatred.
Although projected as the work of the fringe right, the power of Islamophobia lies in seeding the hatred for Islam as a mainstream phenomenon, as a part and parcel of everyday civil discourse.
Digital platforms such as Swarajya Mag in India, and Centers such as the Center for Security Policy in the U.S. are established with the sole purpose of making mainstream the hatred for Islam through the circulation of the image of the Muslim invader that is antithetical to the ideas of civilization.
Propaganda narratives from U.S. to India
The narrative of the “civilization in threat” is strategically disseminated across spaces to seed and amplify Islamophobia. The manifesto circulated by the White supremacist terrorist in New Zealand is essentially anchored in the rhetoric of “White genocide.”
In the U.S., groups such as ACT for America led by Brigette Gabriel organize communities at the grassroots around the hatred for Islam, manufacturing the threat of the Muslim “other.” Setting up false narratives such as the “threat of Sharia law,” with over 750,000 members across the U.S., the organization positions itself as a national security organization, drawing up accounts of unwed Muslim migrant and refugee men who threaten White civilizational purity. Brigette Gabriel draws out links between the influx of Muslim refugees and the threat of rape, manufacturing the basis for the threat of “White genocide.”
In the White terrorist manifesto in New Zealand, the propaganda of “White genocide” is set up by comparing the fertility rates of White Europeans with fertility rates of communities of colour.
The global seduction of the narrative of Islamic rape culture is well evident in India in the Hindutva propaganda machinery.
The “love jihaad” narrative similarly manufactures a false account of Islamic rape culture, positioning Muslims as threatening the purity of Hindu culture. The narrative of Hindu genocide becomes the basis for manufacturing and circulating the threat of the Islamic invader, then being mobilized by the Hindutva forces in India to carry out systematic acts of violence.
The Zionist propaganda machinery produces the image and narrative of the Muslim other to silence any critique of its settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. A large proportion of the funding of the Islamophobia industry comes from Zionist organizations.
Islamophobic responses in India
The Islamophobia that is rampant in India prompts a cross-section of Hindutva forces to celebrate the attacks on the mosques in Christchurch.
For these Hindutva forces, the attack on the mosques is the appropriate and necessary response to the manufactured thread of Islamic terror.
Heuristically driven and devoid of evidence, these jubilations of the attack on the Muslims entirely miss out that the manifesto called for removing all coloured people (including Indians of all faiths) from what the terrorist articulation framed as White lands (of course ignoring the claims to land in New Zealand held by indigenous Maori). People of colour bear the burden of racisms that generate from White supremacy; Muslims bear this burden as attacks on their ethnicity as well amplified by the demonization of their faith.
The celebration of violence by Hindutva terror, although somewhat different in its framing and targeting of the other from the White supremacist terror, is a replica of White supremacist terror in its strategic deployment of violence to target Muslim minorities. Since 2015, at least 44 Muslims have been killed in India by cow vigilantes, driven by the narrative of civilizational threat.
For a global civilizational response
That terror has no place in civilized societies is the message that ought to form the basis for global response. In her bold and powerful speech following the terrorist attack, the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern issued this clarion call for zero tolerance of hatred by stating that the haters have no place in New Zealand society.
Across the globe, the fabrics of civilized secular societies are threatened by the politics of hate and fear mongering, legitimized through political parties and electoral processes. These political parties that operate on the circulation of hate need to be targeted strategically and their machineries of hate dismantled.
The global machine of Islamophobia ought to be dismantled by a civilizational narrative of love, understanding and dialogue, with the fundamental commitment to fostering spaces for diverse voices, peoples, worldviews and faith traditions.
In India, dismantling the hate apparatuses of the RSS and BJP are the urgent calls of the hour. In civilized societies such as in New Zealand and Singapore, diaspora groups that operate on the circulation of hate have no place. Identifying, categorizing and dismantling such groups is as important as it is to opening up calls for dialogue.
Hate, White supremacist hate and Hindu hate need to be stopped before they consume the discursive spheres of civilized societies.
Mohan J Dutta is Dean's Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University, University of New Zealand. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.