New Made-in-America Weapon: Islamophobia Act

“In India, Prime Minister Modi’s government has moved to strip citizenship from millions of Muslims…Islamohobia is global in scope…and that’s why I have introduced this bill to create a special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia” – Rep. Ilhan Omar, Speech in US House of Representatives, 14th December 2021

On 14th December 2021, US House of Representatives passed a legislation called ‘Combating International Islamophobia Act’. This bill was brought to the House in October by Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar. Even though this bill did not get full support and the House was almost split in two halves, it was passed as it got 219 votes in its favor and 212 votes against it. Just for the readers who are not familiar with the American democracy, it should be noted that like our two houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, one being the lower house and the other being the upper house, the US lower house is called House of Representatives and the upper house is called the Senate. This bill is yet to be passed in the Senate.

We may wonder why we care about what is happening in the US Congress. Americans can do whatever they feel best for their country. Absolutely right and my blog is called IndicVoices, not AmericanVoices. I wouldn’t have any interest writing about an American legislation unless it had some impact on us. There wouldn’t have been any problem if this law was meant to deal with Islamophobia in America. Though there are many other phobias that exist in this land, but who am I to comment if Americans decide that Islamophobia is the biggest crisis for them. The problem is this domestic law is created to police on other nations! You can get it directly in its title. Combating ‘International’ Islamophobia Act. Seriously! When will this country stop meddling in the internal affairs of other nations?

The Act

The law requires the Department of State to set up an office to monitor and combat Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement in foreign countries. It should be noted that the main force behind this law, Rep. Ilhan Omar is known for her anti-Semitic views and Rep. Rashida Tlaib is known for her indirect support towards Hamas, a declared terrorist organization. Let’s look at some portions from this act. I am highlighting some texts for your attention.

The Secretary of State shall establish within the Department of State an Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia (in this section referred to as the ‘Office’).

Upon establishment, the Office shall assume primary responsibility for the following:

Monitoring and combating acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur in foreign countries.

The law also requires the Department of State annual report to have details related to Islamophobia around the world. Some of the details are as follows:

(A) acts of physical violence against, or harassment of, Muslim people, and acts of violence against, or vandalism of, Muslim community institutions, including schools, mosques, and cemeteries;

(B) instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred or incite acts of violence against Muslim people;

(C) the actions, if any, taken by the government of the country to respond to such violence and attacks or to eliminate such propaganda or incitement;

(D) the actions taken by such government to enact and enforce laws relating to the protection of the right to religious freedom of Muslim people;

(E) the efforts of such government to promote anti-bias and tolerance education; and

(F) any instances of forced labor, reeducation, or the presence of concentration camps, such as those targeting the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China;

If this Act is passed in the Senate, it will allow the US to enter into our house, as a matter of fact, anyone’s house and poke into our internal matters. While passing this act, did the Representatives forget that USA is a secular state? What about persecutions of non-Muslims? America already has USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) to lecture other countries on religious freedom. Now this law is made specific for a single religion. Clearly this law intends to impose sanctions on foreign countries on the pretext of Islamophobic activities, as determined by USA.

So, what has really happened? Unlike India where Prime Minister swear in by laying hand on the Constitution, USA is a country where majority of the Presidents, including the current one, took oath on the Bible. So, is this another gospel of secularism coming from the big brother?

Eye on China

We need to understand that, in recent times, American foreign and military policies are more and more directed towards China. All of the following events point in that direction – 1) creation of QUAD (India, USA, Japan, Australia), 2) creation of AUKUS (Australia, UK, USA) and transferring technology to Australia to build nuclear submarines, 3) sudden peace process in Middle-East involving Israel and Arab nations, 4) including India in a summit (unofficially called West-Asian QUAD) with USA, Israel and UAE, and finally 5) abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan. America is withdrawing from all other fronts including long-attached Middle-East to focus all of its energy solely towards China. USA along with its core allies backed out from 2022 Winter Olympics hosted by China on the pretext of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. A statement has been issued from the White House and it has been stated that the US is withdrawing from the Olympics due to “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” concerning Uyghur Muslims “and other human rights abuses”. Again, in case of this Act, President Biden gave his support.

We Indians rejoiced when we were included in QUAD as we always seek Western acceptance and similarly, we may cheer seeing phrases like ‘People’s Republic of China’ and ‘Uyghurs in the Xinjiang’ in this Act. But we should remember that this Act which seems to be directed against China right now, can also be used against us one day. Ms. Omar made it pretty clear in her speech by taking India’s name there. By the way, it was a blatant lie. No Muslim lost citizenship. She needs to read the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 herself or take some expert help. The history of Islam in the sub-continent followed by the painful partition of our motherland puts relationship of Muslims with non-Muslims in a tricky situation in this region. All Indians, irrespective of their religions, try their best to leave aside all the differences. But still problems arise and sometime it gets out of control. This Act (yet to be a law) will put India in vulnerable position in such situations and Uncle Sam can arm-twist India the way it wants.

China knows how to stand on your own, and India better learns this one thing from them. Otherwise, we will either be threatened of sanctions for buying S-400 from Russia or will be forced to sever ties with Iran just because big brother will get offended.

Islam – A Useful Tool for the West

West, especially United States of America, has a very interesting case of relationship with Islam. We don’t need to go back to the time of Crusade for that. We just need to look at the American involvement in the recent times in the middle-east, Afghanistan and in our beloved Pakistan to understand it.

When pro-communist PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) overthrew erstwhile Afghan monarch Zahir Shah’s cousin Mohammad Daud’s government on 27th April 1978, Soviet Union’s influence started increasing in Afghanistan. This event is known as ‘Saur (April) Revolution’. During the time of Daud itself, many Islamists fled to Pakistan due to Daud’s clamp on them. These Islamists were no friend of socialist and communist PDPA either. A treaty of friendship was signed between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union in December 1978. USA became more and more concerned with the rise of this pro-Soviet group. Islamist groups faced severe flak from this new government, probably more than Daud’s time. PDPA brought in Soviet style modern reform programs (e.g. land reform, changing marriage laws, enhancing women’s rights, abolishing usuary that impacted powerful money lenders) that angered conservative Islamists further. Many militant groups were established within Pakistan and mountains of Afghanistan to fight against the government. Pakistan under President Gen. Zia-ul-Haq provided all sorts of direct support to these groups with safe refuge, training, money and arms. USA supported them indirectly. Don’t forget that radically Islamized Pakistan under the new President was the closest ally of USA in this region. Afghanistan government, failing to counter the insurgency and unable to control the situation politically, brought in direct Soviet intervention. Soviet troops moved into Afghanistan on Christmas Eve of 1979 to take control of the situation by military force, similar to what USA did in Vietnam. This point onwards USA intervention, especially under President Regan, became direct. Afghanistan became the victim of war between two superpowers.

The issue here is something different. USA, along with its traditional allies like UK, sided with the radical Islamist groups (called the Mujahideen) in this region from the beginning to counter Soviet force. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) paid the University of Nebraska, Omaha $5.1 million between 1984-1994 to develop and design textbooks to promote jihad. New Education Policy of 1979 in Pakistan changed this country and regions around it forever. 5000 new mosque schools were established and a new curriculum was implemented with emphasis on jihad and Islamization. The message of jihad was tailored to target communists. Money, arms and Islamic literature were supplied to the madrasas. Overall, $13 million worth of such radicalized text books were supplied to Pakistani schools and Afghani refugee camps. Other Islamic countries in the Gulf region who were also US allies provided fund for this cause.

Other than the Islamization, another crime took place during this time. That was promoting Opium trade to fund the anti-Soviet campaign. Illegal opium cultivation and then smuggling the heroin produced from it became a major source of revenue for the Mujahideen. New heroin refineries were setup using the aid received from CIA. Soviet Union alleged that CIA agents were helping to smuggle the heroin out of Afghanistan to raise money and weaken Soviet Union by getting people addicted there. Later Taliban took control of this business. Heroin smuggling is still the biggest source of revenue ($416 million in 2020) for Taliban and today 85% of opium is produced in Afghanistan. USA got out of it by winning this proxy war and overseeing the collapse of Soviet Union. But, as usual, sidekicks always get the brunt when the master leaves. Pakistan’s economy could never recover from it. Islamist terrorism became their only viable profession. In 1979 Pakistan had no heroin addicts, in 1980 Pakistan had 5,000 heroin addicts, and by 1985, according to official Pakistan government statistics, Pakistan had 1.2 million heroin addicts, the largest heroin addict population in the world.

America’s love-hate relationship with Islam does not end there. American meddling in Iran caused an uprising there around the same time in 1979 with the rise of another radical Islamist, Ayatollah Khomeini. West loves to preach the world on democracy, human rights and individual freedom. But its allies in the middle-east are notorious in that respect. Records of human rights in some of those countries, mostly ruled by monarchs with no sign of democracy, are abysmal to say the least. I would love to see USA passing some Acts for non-Muslims to practice their religion freely in some of those countries! I know it will never happen because Islam was just useful tool in the past, and now it is Islamophobia.

Final Thoughts

I sincerely hope that this Act will not be passed in the Senate. Nevertheless, it already gave the indication that America will not shy away to use whatever it takes to keep its control over the world affairs. How would Americans feel if Indian parliament passes a domestic law to monitor lives and treatment of black African-Americans in the USA? How would they feel if India tries to block American businesses to work in India with excuse of violence on black Americans there? Definitely it will not be a nice experience. Exactly, that is how we feel now.


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