Tarin Discusses Role of Faith & Political Extremism in Election Season

August 27, 2012

On Thursday, Aug. 23, MPAC's Haris Tarin, the Director of the Washington, DC, Office, joined the New America Foundation and a panel of experts to discuss the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric and domestic terrorism in lead up to the 2012 election.

Aptly titled "'At Least Shoot A Muslim': What Do We Make of Extremism After Wisconsin?", the panelists discussed the rise of hate crimes against faith-based groups and the atmosphere of suspicion that has grown since the 2006 elections. 


Click here to watch the full video of the event. 


"People are using fear-inducing tactics to get people to vote," Tarin said. "Right after 9/11, there was a spike in hate crimes toward those who were percieved to be Muslims. However, when President George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared that American Muslims are part of the country and just as American as anyone else, it worked. There was a 1,600 percent decrease in hate crimes."

"It is important to have senior officials speak out against the industry of hate so that this rhetoric does not ferment and take hold," Tarin added. "We haven't seen many politicians speak against those using this rhetoric. This industy of hate has been working very hard to make sure their message gets across."

Sadly, the problem is now growing. We are not living in a vacuum. Over the past decade, there have been mechanisms developed by a micro-industry of groups, individuals and foundations to grow a culture of hate and fear, which lead to violence in extreme cases.  

Last year, the Center for American Progress released "Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America," which tracks the financially-lucrative industry. 

Spencer Ackerman, a Senior Reporter for Wired.Com, recently exposed the failure of the NYPD's spying initiative, which resulted in no cases of domestic terrorism coming to light. He notes that there is a minimal threat of terrorism to the U.S., even from al-Qaeda, and the perception of American Muslims as incubators for this threat is incorrect. 

Amandeep Sidhu, an Advisory Board Member and former Regional Director of the Southeast Chapter of The Sikh Coalition, spoke about the Sikh shooting in Oak Creek, WI. 

"What we are facing is an attack on otherness, and there is no way to actually solve the problem," he said. 

The panel agreed that part of the solution is for the public to become more civically and politically engaged and for voters to get mobilized. 



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