Rise of Islamophobia in Florida

Happy New Year, and welcome back!  Or alternatively, happy mid-Safar, if you prefer!  I hope you have all enjoyed the holidays and have already started to enjoy 2012.

As I promised, I have been keeping up on comments and the news, and I do have several posts to get everyone caught up with what’s happened over the break.  But to start with, L over at The Book Archaeologist asked: Hey! Saw this on the BBC site today: “Is anti-Muslim politics on the rise in Florida?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16152509 — Well, is it?

The BBC article is interesting for a number of reasons – when I was living in Britain, I was always struck that the British news always seemed to miss the point just a bit whenever they reported on American politics (unlike American news, of course, which tends to go madly off-base whenever it discusses British politics, which is why it’s probably for the best that it doesn’t do so very often – although reading the Fox coverage of the Tories in the last election was pretty hilarious).  I think, in particular, the British tend to over-emphasize regionalism – I’m not sure it’s really the case that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment  are significantly higher in Florida than the rest of the country, but rather the public expression in Florida has received a fair amount of national and international attention, and thus scrutiny.  To put it another way, the news about anti-Muslim sentiment in Florida has caused people to go looking for it there, which hasn’t been done on a large scale most other places in the US.  I suspect, however depressing this fact is, that you would find similar currents throughout the US.

I also feel the need to contest, yet again, with the definition of Sharia, that “all aspects of a Muslim’s life are governed by Sharia, which is based on the tenets of Islam.”  That’s nearly correct, but still a bit off – Sharia is an abstract concept, the righteous path.  It’s certainly something all Muslims aspire to follow, but the actual, precise regulation of Muslim practice is fiqh, or Islamic law.

What I agree with the most strongly in this piece is the argument that the anti-Muslim sentiments in the US, and the anti-Sharia legal movement in particular, is a solution looking for a problem.  Unfortunately, as with all conspiracy theories, there is absolutely no way to convince those that support it of that.  The lack of evidence becomes evidence in and of itself.  But I suspect that you would find similar sentiments throughout the US.

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About askanislamicist

I'm an academic who specializes in early Islamic history and the history of religious interactions, who, in her free time, enjoys shouting into the internet.
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