“Lean has produced a brave and bold text that offers a new and potentially reconciliatory approach to the study of Islamophobia … clear and concise, with little academic jargon getting in the way … this work will no doubt be met with controversy.” — Chris Allen, in Ethnic and Racial Studies

Review of The Islamophobia Industry in Ethnic & Racial Studies Journal

During a recent episode of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher mocked President Obama’s insistence that the Islamic State does not represent Islam, and lambasted Islam as “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” One of Maher’s guests, actor Ben Affleck, called his remarks “gross” and “racist.”

The testy exchange went viral, prompting an important debate about the relationship between religion and violence. Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, for instance, lamented the “cancer of extremism within Islam today,” while the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff described the diversity of the “Islamic world” and a bygone era where “Islam was not particularly intolerant.” Author Reza Aslan emphasized that the Islamic State, like Al Qaeda, is a “jihadist” group, not an “Islamist” one. Continue Reading…

Recently, I published a piece on Islamophobia in America for Oxford Islamic Studies Online’s Focus On series, which is a portal of the Oxford site that is available to the public and hosts scholarly pieces on a variety of issues. Click this image above, or visit this link to view the piece.

Last week’s Heritage Foundation panel on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi was bound to be an ugly affair, what with the presence of panelist Brigitte Gabriel, a self-described “terrorism analyst” with a laundry list of offensive statements about Islam and Arabs. Sure enough, when attendee Saba Ahmed, an American University law school student, explained that not all Muslims are terrorists, Gabriel retorted that “the peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the way that peaceful Germans were irrelevant during the Holocaust.

That prompted much hand-wringing, primarily on cable news, about the supposed silence of “moderate Muslims” in this supposed age of Islamist extremism. What no one on either side of the debate questioned, though, was the legitimacy of the phrase “moderate Muslims” itself.

Read more at The New Republic, where this piece was originally published on June 25, 2014.