Across the United States, there has been a growth in organizations that portray Islam as a threat. Over two years, the number of groups that make up what’s become known as the 'Islamophobia industry' has more than tripled.
Al Jazeera Investigations has released a stunning documentary that provides a rare look into the multi-million-dollar Islamophobia Network and traces the sources and effects of the hateful and fearmongering movement that seeks to cast Islam and Muslims as a malevolent existential threat, and instigates prejudice, discrimination, and oppression towards the faith and its practitioners.
"The anti-Muslim industry, including hate groups like ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and individuals like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, paints a facade of Islam as a threat and uses it to maliciously misguide Americans into fearing Muslims," said Nihad Awad, national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"The Islamophobia Network works to silence and bully American Muslim communities in an effort to prevent them from exercising their fundamental constitutional right of active political engagement in the United States. Additionally, the Network has close ties with the Trump administration. The administration’s blatant peddling of dangerous and dehumanizing anti-Muslim rhetoric and unconstitutional anti-Muslim policies have been directly informed by the Network," added Awad.
Al Jazeera's investigation reveals the tactics these groups use to instigate a fear of Islam, including how they manipulate social media to create a false narrative that Muslims are trying to take over the country. Anti-Muslim messages proliferate social media with bought-in followers, fake accounts and robotic amplifiers.
The investigation also shows how these organizations try to suppress the rise of a Muslim political voice in America. It uncovers the “dark money” that has fuelled the rapid growth of Islamophobia Inc. - tens of millions of dollars which is funnelled through secretive, anonymous donor funds.
The documentary unveils the donors of the dark money and asks what they ultimately hope to achieve.
"Our elected officials and our religious and civic leaders should not provide platforms to anti-Muslim hate groups that promote Islamophobia and spread words of hate," added Awad. "Rather, let us work together to shape a society in which all Americans enjoy their fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."