Nathan Lean – The Islamophobia Industry [Feature Review]

March 29, 2013

 

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0745332536″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/410mFvOeS-L._SL110_.jpg” width=”69″]Page 3: Nathan Lean – The Islamophobia Industry

 

A helpful corrective for the Evangelical community will come by way of a reconsideration of the biblical commands to not bear false witness, and to love our neighbors, including Muslim ones, as ourselves, as well as the example of Jesus in interreligious encounters. With the biblical commandments and example of Christ in mind, Evangelicals might consider the suggestion of Warren Larson, director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies at Columbia International University. In his response to Evangelical exposés and attempts to “unveil” the evils of Islam he counters:

When we critique Islam, we need to be fair and accurate. Those of us who make Muslim-Christian comparisons must do so from a position of informed engagement, as those who have worked with Muslims. When we review historical tensions between the two faiths, we must apply rigorous historical analysis. When we write about Islam, we must remember that love is the greatest apologetic.

 

In the Conclusion to this volume Lean writes:

The Islamophobia industry is a growing enterprise, one that is knowledgeable about the devastating effects of fear on society and willing to produce and exploit it. They may be a relatively small group, but the scope of their reach and the consequences of their program engender anti-Muslim hate within vulnerable groups of people who, once tuned in to such propaganda, join their ranks. The prejudices they generate are not of little consequence.

 

Sadly, this reviewer agrees with Lean’s assessment, but the future is not bleak. A concerted effort can and should be made to counter it, just as steps should be taken in the Muslim world to counter anti-Western and anti-Christian voices. If conservatives and others on the right will work toward fairer, more balanced and nuanced understandings of Islam, a complex and diverse religion, then we will not only counter the prejudices of Islamophobia, but we will also have taken an important step toward addressing the challenges of terrorism and religiously-inspired violence in our world.

 

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John W. Morehead is the Custodian of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and the Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies. He is the editor of Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue (Lion, 2009), and works in interreligious dialogue in the areas of Islam, Mormonism, Paganism, and Atheism/Humanism.