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.

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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