Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Blog

Islamophobes seem to thrive during the summer before important election years. It was almost precisely the same time two years ago that Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer sparked a national controversy over Park 51, the proposed Mosque and Islamic Center in lower Manhattan that they called the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Well, now it’s the “Mega Mosque” which has got people in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn riled up. Geller is helping to stoke fears about the three story mosque in precisely the same way that she did in 2010. That summer, Park 51 became a national issue, extending far beyond New York, and ended up playing out as a wedge issue which a number of congressional campaigns used for political gain. One of the most notable attacks on the mosque from outside the state came from a campaign video from now-Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC) who criticized her opponent for not speaking out against the “victory mosque” at Ground Zero. In and out of New York, the issue was potent going into the elections, and the timing now, as it did two years ago, seems to suit certain politicians including New York Republican Rep. Bob Turner.

Turner, as we’ve highlighted before, stooped to the basest level of Islamophobic pandering in his special election win over David Weprin for Anthony Weiner’s old seat. As Salon reports, Turner and fellow politician, New York state legislator Sen. David Storobin, have been at the helm of political opposition to this newly proposed mosque.  The opposition to this mosque began some time ago in 2011, but heading into the elections, momentum attacking its construction seems to be mounting.

Beyond New York, we’re also seeing a national Islamophobic and anti-Arab frenzy playing out in the form of Michele Bachmann’s attacks on Huma Abedin. Given the nature of her attacks, and the fact that she doubled down on them, Bachmann made a calculated choice to openly accuse Abedin for political gain, a move we know has galvanized her base. By extension, accusing Abedin of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood implicates the Obama Administration, which certain groups within the GOP believe – by virtue of Obama being an Arab Muslim, of course – harbors an Islamist agenda or is overly sympathetic to Arabs and Muslims. A new Pew study shows that the number of Republicans who believe Obama is Muslim has doubled since 2008. The statistic proves that there is a burgeoning market in the GOP to use the American Muslim community to hit the President, and vice versa. What’s important to note here is that these attacks are not manifesting themselves in different ways; they remain the same, and they are becoming a dangerous and divisive pattern.  

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