TEHRAN, Sept. 13 (MNA) – Islamophobia in the United States is shallow and temporary while Islamophobia in Europe is deep-seated because of Europeans’ long history of warfare with the Muslim World, Dr. Muqtedar Khan says.

Muqtedar, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who teaches Arab and Middle Eastern politics, politics of development, globalization, and Islam in world affairs, made the remarks in an email interview with the Tehran Times on Sunday.

Dr. Khan also said that the Florida pastor who had planned to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 caved in under right-wing pressure from U.S. political circles.

Professor Khan, who established the Islamic Studies Program at the University of Delaware, USA, and was its first director from 2007 to 2010, earned a Ph.D. in international relations, political philosophy, and Islamic political thought from Georgetown University in May 2000. His areas of interest are politics of the Middle East and South Asia, political Islam, Islamic political thought, and U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim World.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What do you think was the actual aim of Florida pastor Terry Jones’s decision to call for the Quran to be burned?

A: I think Terry Jones is both deeply prejudiced towards Islam and Muslims and an opportunist. He used the rising anti-Muslim climate in the United States to give himself more than 15 minutes in the limelight. He is now associating himself with the other big issue in the news, the so-called Ground Zero mosque, and is clearly seeking to remain in the limelight. Celebrities in the U.S. often translate their fame into money. Eventually, the pastor will also seek to cash in monetarily or even politically. Who knows, he might soon run for Congress.

Q: Do you think he caved in under international pressure and thus called off the decision to hold a rally to burn copies of the Holy Quran?

A: I cannot speculate on that. I think he caved in to the pressure he started getting from the right wing -- people like Sarah Palin and (Fox News host) Glenn Beck condemned him, too. The thing that threatened him most was that he was endangering U.S. troops. Once both General David Petraeus and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the point that Quran burning was dangerous for U.S. troops, he must have realized that this could rapidly undermine his support, I think, so he backed off.

Q: Do you think that the 9/11 attacks were really planned and executed by Al-Qaeda men?

A: I find the 9/11 Commission report more compelling than any argument advanced by those who deny that the horrible crime was done by someone other than Atta and his gang. Moreover, the daily violence in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia alone is a constant proof of Al-Qaeda and similar phenomena in the Muslim World. Surely you are not going to blame each and every one of those episodes on “someone else”.

Q: You have spoken about the rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe and the United States. Could you explain the reasons behind this phenomenon and how Muslim communities in the EU and the USA should deal with it?

A: The reasons are separate in the EU and the U.S. because of several reasons. I think the European Islamophobia is deep-seated because of the long history of warfare with Muslims and because Islam is seen as genuinely transforming the identities (which have been stable for centuries) of European nation states. Danes have been white and Christian for ages. Now they are also becoming dark and Muslim and very rapidly.

I am confident that Islamophobia in the U.S. is shallow and temporary. Notice for example that the biggest supporters of the mosque project in New York (other than Muslims) were American Jews, and look how nearly everyone who mattered in the U.S. condemned the (call for) Quran burning. There are strong pockets of Islamophobia in the U.S., but I am confident that American Muslims and their allies in mainstream America can overcome the poison they spew.

Muslims in the West must engage with the mainstream society, participate in philanthropy, social service, and politics. When critical, they should be fair… They should distance themselves from the hateful messages that come from the Muslim World, respect pluralism, and Islamophobia will erode.




News Code 41859

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