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Nathan Lean: The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

2 June 2012 Huffington Post 20 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Nathan Lean

Nathan Lean

The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

by Nathan Lean (Huffington Post)

Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Republican Governor Sam Brownback had a feeling he was not in Kansas anymore. At least not the Kansas that he once knew. His Sunflower State was teeming with unfamiliar creatures and though not tin-men or scarecrows or wicked witches, they were nonetheless outsiders and were apparently so unsettling that a law was required to prevent their influence: They were Muslims.

Last Friday, Brownback signed a bill prohibiting local courts from relying on sharia, or Islamic law, as well as other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter. The bill was approved in a landslide vote: 33-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.

Like other similar bills in 20 states, including recently enacted laws in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the blueprint for the controversial Kansas legislation comes from a familiar and influential source: a growing right-wing network of anti-Muslim fear mongers. They are the Islamophobia industry and laws such as this are hallmark achievements in their quest to frighten the American population about a minority group they view with great suspicion and scorn.

The deluge of anti-Muslim legislation that has unnecessarily clogged the corridors of power (and the minds of otherwise rational politicians) can be traced back to David Yerushalmi, a 57-year-old Hasidic Jew with a library’s worth of controversial statements about African Americans, fellow Jews and immigrants. A shadow agent of this fear industry, Yerushalmi has worked behind the scenes since 2001 to ratchet up an image of Islam and Muslims that is heavy on sensationalism and gore and short on context and fact. It was his organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (with the ironic acronym SANE) that once suggested that the U.S government should declare a war on the Muslim community, that Muslims should not be granted entry visas to the U.S., and that practicing Islam should be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The Kansas law, and the majority of the bills that were brought before state congresses, are based on a single piece of blueprint legislation crafted by Yerushalmi titled “American Laws for American Courts.” Along with former Reagan official Frank Gaffney, who is famous for suggesting that Barack Obama is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yerushalmi marketed the plan to lawmakers throughout the country, tapping into Tea Party bases and Republican activist groups such as ACT For America that welcomed the opportunity to institutionalize discrimination in their respective states.

In drumming up support for Kansas’s ban, bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller spread the word to their online bases through “Action Alerts” that warned of “Islamic supremacists” who were “seeking to impose the Sharia on non-Muslims.” They urged their supporters to “flood [Brownback’s] Twitter” and “jam his phones” with strong support for the bill.

Spencer and Geller co-founded Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) in 2010, an American offshoot of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a hate group that the European Union calls a “neo-Nazi organization.” They also led the protests in 2010 to the Park51 Community Center (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?) in New York City. Yerushalmi and Gaffney serve as their legal counsel. When the Kansas bill was signed, Geller reacted with her usual flamboyance: “U Da Best,” she wrote. “What a disaster defeat for Hamas-CAIR,” she added.

Supporters of the Kansas law point to the fact that it does not explicitly mention sharia and that it only refers to “foreign legal codes.” But it is clear from the people who are behind this newest manifestation of state-sanctioned Islamophobia that the statute is hardly intended to be an equal opportunity regulator. In fact, after court’s ruled last year that Oklahoma’s sharia ban violated the establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment, Yerushalmi took note of the bill’s language and wiped out language that could be interpreted as targeting Muslims specifically. This growing network operates on slyness and persistence.

The Islamophobia industry is a dangerous and influential group. They have successfully attached anti-Muslim sentiment to the banner of right-wing populism and it is fast becoming identical to anti-Semitism and other such structural racisms that have the potential to spill out into the ghastly displays of violence. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, for example, listed Spencer, Geller and Gaffney multiple times in the manifesto that served as a guidebook for his massacre in July 2011. This network clings to the notion that foreign is bad and that Muslims are not a natural part of America’s national fabric. They believe that they must not only be chastised and harassed but that local government’s should discriminate against them on the basis of their religion and foreign systems of order that the everyday, law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims of America don’t even follow to begin with.

There is no sharia law in Kansas. There is no sharia law anywhere in the United States. What there is, though, is a hateful band of anti-pluralists who take great joy (and make great money) in cleaving society into various fragments that war with one another. It is time to shine a bright and damning light on the Islamophobia industry.

Nathan Lean is the Editor-In-Chief of AslanMedia.com. He is the co-author of ‘Iran, Israel, and the United States’ (2010) and the author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Visit him online at www.nathanlean.com and follow him on Twitter at @nathanlean.



  1. The “islamophobia industry” is very powerful, it is sponsored by the OIC and seeks to suppress any and all criticism of islam.

  2. “The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter.”

    nothing wrong with being in front of the curve.

    so at the risk of repaeting myself. who supports sharia? why not ban a jurisprudance that no one supports? or are ya’ll like the eqyptians, nigerians, indonisians, etc????????

    mr bennet,

    my new favorite poll


  3. FRANCE 2012 An Islamic holy man and his wife have been jailed for the genital mutilation of their four daughters. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2154014/Islamic-holy-man-wife-jailed-mutilating-genitals-daughters.html

    The case has shocked France and was branded by a female government minister as a ‘grave crime’ and an ‘intolerable affront to women’s dignity.’
    All four of the victims, now aged between 11 and 20, were in court to hear the sentence and wept and cried out as their parents were led away from the dock.
    The four victims of the genital mutilation wept in court as their parents were sent down.
    The unnamed father was sentenced to two years and his wife got 18 months for allowing a ‘doctor’ to remove parts of their vaginas. They were charged with ‘complicity in voluntary violence having led to mutilation by an older person of a minor under the age of 15 years’ , a crime punishable by a maximum of 20 years jail.
    The father was said to be a ‘ marabout’ – an Arabic word for an Islamic ascetic holy man alleged to be endowed with magical powers.
    The couple originally came from the west African state of Guinea where according to a 2007 study, 96 per cent of young girls have their genitals mutilated in the name of religion.

  4. again, it looks like quite a few muslims aren’t getting the memo on following the laws of the land.


    “It became illegal in the United States on 30 March 1997, though according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate, 168,000 girls living there as of 1997 had undergone it or are at risk.[76] Nineteen-year-old Fauziya Kasinga, a member of the Tchamba-Kunsuntu tribe of Togo, was granted asylum in 1996 after leaving an arranged marriage to escape FGM, setting a precedent in U.S. immigration law because FGM was for the first time accepted as a form of persecution”

  5. Oh look its blind mike again,
    I never said I supported Sharia law. The problem I had with u has to do that u probably believe Mooslems are trying to enforce Sharia law in America. I gave u a comparison of American overseas policies in Japan about killing innocent civilians and you said u have no problem with that. I then pointed out that u have no right to criticize the Sharia becuz ur own beliefs are more extreme. Don’t support it. Just think u should look at ur double standards. Apparently u don’t know how to put pieces of the puzzle together. For e.g. cutting of the hand for theft. Under Sharia, if u are caught, more than once, are Muslim, an adult, and stole a minimum amount of money, are not poor, you get punished (don’t support the Sharia, but listen carefully and read slowly). Although it is a crude punishment, it provided a stable society (Remember, charity is an obligation in Islam). So I would say they had a fair legal system (in the beginning). Now compare that punishment to punishing innocent women and children who are noncombatants in war. Get my point know? Or do u still have trouble understanding?

  6. Get Real,
    Don’t even need to answer ur sources. Female genital mutilation is not part of Islam. Islamic practices are similar to those of Jews. Unfortunately when Islam spread, it spread across many different nations with different cultures. The only point for posting what ppl do instead of what the Quran and Sunnah actually say is a good sign that u simply like spreading ur own bias.

  7. Jane,
    Ur comment is even worse than Get Real. U provide no evidence or even any links to support ur claims. Islamophobia existed long before the OIC even formed. Remember the Crusades? Pope calls on all the Christians, promising them the kingdom of heaven if they free their brethren in the Holy Land (ended up killing Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.). Illiterate and ignorant Christians follow him. At the time they were still preaching that Muslims worshipped idol Gods (based on pre-Islamic Arabs). That should be enough proof to show how Christians have lied about Islam for centuries.
    Second, the OIC is only countering comments like Get Real. Ppl trying to portray Islam through lies and deceptions. Tell me, what part of Get Real’s comments helped educate u about Islam? Should I take the Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas as proof that Christians are actually Pagan worshippers? Get ur facts in order.

  8. The reality of what goes on in “islamic” countries is quite bad enough without adding lies and deceptions. The OIC is embarrassed that people are pointing out what goes on and wants to shut them up.

  9. Bennet – overseas policies in Japan? Are you speaking of ww2? Japan had no problems killing everybody else’s civilians in ww2. The sack of Nanking just one of many.

    I make a distinction between the barbarity of killing schoolgirls by accident and that of killing them on purpose. Turn blind eye to the Taliban atrocities and moan constantly about infidel ones. Ignoring atrocities committed by muslims is one reason for the predicaments of these countries.

    The crusades? Stop beating that dead horse.

  10. mbennet,

    “Oh look its blind mike again,” thanks, i’ll take blind mike over douchebag. lol.
    “I never said I supported Sharia law.” true you haven’t said that. it seems no one want’s to give a yes or no on that question. FOR ALL, so do you support sharia? ok so now are you saying that you don’t support sharia?
    “The problem I had with u has to do that u probably believe Mooslems are trying to enforce Sharia law in America.” is that not a logical conclusion. when a state propose a law banning sharia in the courts and muslims come out against said law. does it not imply that they what sharia to be considered in courts?
    “I gave u a comparison of American overseas policies in Japan about killing innocent civilians and you said u have no problem with that.” again it’s a strange comparison. american war policy and “god’s divine writ”. yes i in retrospect support lemay’s strategy of fire bombing means of production. again you seem stuck in the 7th century, where the longest ranged weapon was the bow.
    “I then pointed out that u have no right to criticize the Sharia becuz ur own beliefs are more extreme.” well that’s a bit of a stretch. lol. regardless of my beliefs, if my criticizism is valid then why worry about my beliefs.
    “Don’t support it.” are you saying you don’t support sharia?? your pronoun is so far from the antecedent that i’m confussed again?
    “Just think u should look at ur double standards. Apparently u don’t know how to put pieces of the puzzle together.” sometime the pieces don’t fit.
    “For e.g. cutting of the hand for theft. Under Sharia, if u are caught, more than once, are Muslim, an adult, and stole a minimum amount of money, are not poor, you get punished (don’t support the Sharia, but listen carefully and read slowly).” i do read slowly. so if you don’t support sharia then why defend it?
    “Although it is a crude punishment, it provided a stable society” yes draconian laws can create a crime free society. so the ends justifys the means.
    “(Remember, charity is an obligation in Islam).” ok, what does that has to do with anything?
    “So I would say they had a fair legal system (in the beginning).” sounds like support now?????
    “Now compare that punishment to punishing innocent women and children who are noncombatants in war.” well when you bomb them it certainly kills them. but it’s not a “punishment”. it is war. you get collateral damage. you bomb the factories that produce the tanks and planes and bombs. if the axis had been able to they would have bombed our factories. they did bomb the other allies’ factorys. i guess you never heard of the blitz.
    “Get my point know? Or do u still have trouble understanding?” well let me see. you don’t support sharia but you do think it was a fair legal system, in the begining. you think i have no standing to critize anything because i realize that in modern warfare, air power will be brought to bear and civilians will be killed. sharia only applies to muslim, but that doesn’t really matter because you don’t support it? so how did muhammad create a stable society while allowing the polytheist under his protection to steal? or was a polytheist enslaved if caught stealing, twice of course? and you seriously think it’s a good strategy to cut off a guys hand in a time when most people man their living through manual labor? remember it was the 7th century.

    i know you have read all the hadiths. so what do you think of the ones about accidently killing non-combatants on a night time raiding party?

    so many layers to this onion.

  11. Volume 8, Book 81, Number 780:

    Narrated ‘Aisha:

    The Prophet said, “The hand should be cut off for stealing something that is worth a quarter of a Dinar or more.”

    do you have a dollar amount in mind? adjusted for inflation of course. don’t see anything about second offence?


  12. Volume 4, Book 52, Number 256:

    Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama:

    The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).” I also heard the Prophet saying, “The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle.”

  13. At one point they had to suspend hand amputations because they needed able bodied men as combatants.

    The puritans couldn’t enforce death penalty for adultery etc. they would have decimated their little colony.

  14. runaway fiqh?


    funny i get critizised for providing links. as for fgm being apart of islam. are not u familiar with the hadith of muhammad, after conquering mecca, asking the woman if see still does what she did back in medina. then he says don’t cut too deep, it is better for the woman and her hsuband? but yes there have been modern fatawas against it. but there have also been fatawas for it. it was outlawed in eyqpt only to have the law overturned due to islamists objections.

  15. runaway freedom of religion?


    “by eight Islamic scholars and doctors who argued that the Health Ministry decree violated religious beliefs”

  16. “Islamophobia existed long before the OIC even formed. Remember the Crusades”

    Nope, I wasn’t around then.

    Do you remember the sack of Rome im 846 when the great basilicas were stripped of religious treasures by muslims?

  17. well i wouldn’t call it a phobia, but my conern with islam began with the iranian hostage crisis. i remember when reagan bombed ghadafi’s house for the lockerbie bombing. i remember terry anderson and there where other hostages taken in lebenon. hyjackings throughout the 80s by muslim terrorist. i was only 3 when the attack on the munich olympics happened, but i was aware of that by age 12. the 93 bombing of the wtc should have been a wakeup call, but we are often a reactive culture as opposed to a proactive one. the embassy bombings in africa and the cole, the khobbar towers, etc…. should have made our intelligence community more proactive. but it was not to be. thus 9/11. let our complacency not lead to another tragedy. the funny thing is that it is western muslims who suffer the most from such events, other than the dead and their loved ones of course.

  18. bennet,

    i’m confused. u say “Tell me, what part of Get Real’s comments helped educate u about Islam?” but jane’s comment preceded get real’s. ??????

  19. Some tenants left the wtc after 93 bombing. There was intel regarding planes before 9/11, but they couldn’t halt all air traffic just becuz something bad was supposed to happen involving planes. The private word in gov offices was don’t fly commercially.

    I read that instead of tapering the towers at the top they reduced the number of columns on top floors so when the planes hit, those floors began to pancake and drove the bldgs down.

  20. well don’t see anything about decrease in columns. why would they do that, dercrease the weight as they go up?

    i think the spandrel plates failed.

    “The thickness of the plates and grade of structural steel varied over the height of the tower, ranging from 36,000 to 100,000 pounds per square inch[49] (260 to 670 MPa). The strength of the steel and thickness of the steel plates decreased with height”


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