Alex Constantine - November 7, 2007
From "Pointless" to Intolerance: Islamofascism Week
y Dana Al-Qadi, freshman in LAS, and Mohsin Alvi, sophomore in Engineering
Few are sure precisely what "Islamofascism" is. It becomes especially relevant to define after David Horowitz's (Conservative pundit, campus-watch.org) attempt to reach out to College Republicans and Hillels in order to dedicate a week to spreading awareness of it. So what is "Islamofascism," and why does it matter?
Dan Streib ("Columbia and Islamofascism," Oct. 26) claimed that "Islamofascists" were "those who perverted the fine religion of Islam." At first glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with a word whose purpose is to set apart the bad guys. But when the underlying tones are recognized, the term sets a double standard exclusive to Islam, setting the stage for dangerous discrimination against Muslims.
Throughout history, the political ideology of fascism has been religiously motivated. Hitler was raised Catholic and often said he was fulfilling God's work by carrying out mass extermination. But this prime example of fascism has not provoked the introduction of the term "Cathofascism" into our lexicon.
There is an understanding that Catholicism as a faith does not endorse such actions and individuals should be judged according to their own behavior.
Essentially, Hitler's reign is neither defined nor blamed by the religion from which it stemmed.
Yet, quite strangely, the religion of Islam has been placed in a position that no other religion has. It has become directly associated with the political ideologies and convictions of a very few of its followers.
The greatest harm with "Islamofascism" is the double standard of associating fascist ideals uniquely with Islam. This awkwardly and unfairly reduces the Islamic population into some ambiguous "Islamofascist" default unless proven to be a "good Muslim." This dangerous effect compels Muslims to be on the defensive regarding their identity and nearly apologetic for their beliefs.
Not only is this a fundamental challenge to the integrity of liberty and religious tolerance, it is also a sad reflection of the little understanding there is of the Islamic faith.
In fact, in reality, Islam has no room for a repugnant, intolerant and oppressive fascist's ideal. History reminds us that some of the most brutal western regimes were contrasted by tolerant and pluralistic Islamic empires, such as in 15th century Spain.
The holy text of Islam further insists that "there be no compulsion in religion," while imposition is embedded in the ideology of fascism.
Put another way, the excuse that Islam should be the religion of exception when politically categorized is not well grounded in the facts.
"Islamofascism" Awareness Week has now come and gone and, much to David Horowitz's dismay, this campus and others have little to show for it.
We commend those whose voices resulted in the removal of UIUC from the list of participants.
Of course, the struggle against inaccurate and offensive buzzwords is not over and will not be until terms like "Islamofascism" are recognized as more than just pointless words, but also as tools of intolerance.