John Esposito exposes Geller’s bigoted ignorance over honour killings
An outspoken opponent of the so-called ground zero mosque in Manhattan is also taking on Islam in Chicago. Pamela Geller, leader of a movement called Stop the Islamization of America, asserts that Muslims are increasingly taking over schools, financial institutions and the workplace.
Geller’s latest campaign against “Islamization” has appeared in ads this summer on top of 25 Chicago cabs. Beside pictures of young women who were allegedly killed by their Muslim fathers for refusing an Islamic marriage, dating a non-Muslim or becoming “too Americanized” is the message: “Is your family threatening you?” and the Web address of LeaveIslamSafely.com.
But many Muslim scholars and civil rights advocates say Geller and other self-proclaimed truth-tellers are malicious activists who have capitalized on the terrorist attacks to create a cottage industry bent on bashing people of goodwill and championing religious freedom for all Americans except Muslims.
John Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, said religious defamation and Islam-bashing have become more acceptable in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks. “People like Pam Geller have a horrendous record,” he said. “It’s a track record of not distinguishing between forms of religious terrorism and Islam itself.”
Esposito said religion has nothing to do with it. Honor killings are a cultural phenomenon, not religious, and they are not endorsed anywhere in the Quran, Islam’s holy book.
“This ongoing jihad watch distorts the primary drivers here,” Esposito said. “Unless you understand where it’s coming from, it will not be addressed correctly…. This should be understood the way we address violence against women…. We offer them as much protection as we can, but we don’t jump to say this simply goes on among a particular religious group.”