Hakimeh Saghaye-Biriya made the remark at a ceremony held at IQNA in Tehran on Monday to unveil her latest book titled “Political Islamophobia at American Institutes: Battling the Power of Islamic Resistance”.
It has recently been published in 210 pages by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London.
The book analyses the role of US think tanks in institutionalizing and fueling Islamophobia in the US government’s domestic and foreign policies.
The University of Tehran professor referred to the history of Islamophobia in the West, saying it is nothing new as the phenomenon has existed in different forms for centuries.
She said it started with physical violence in the form of wars and colonialization of Islamic lands.
The West’s next approach to the Islamic world has been cultural and ideological violence, the scholar added.
She said the violence against the Islamic world has continued to this day in different forms, once in the form of creating sects and some time in freemasonry.
“Today, we are facing a new type of cultural violence (against the Islamic world),” she said, stressing the role of US think tanks in this regard.
Saghaye-Biriya said there are some 1,900 active think tanks in the US, whose aim is to find ways to link the world of theorizing to the world of politics.
Especially since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, many of these institutes have been working in the field of foreign policy, many of them running special programs studying on political Islam and relations between the US and the Muslim world, the scholar noted.
She said their influence on the US government’s policies has different dimensions. For example, many of those working for these think thanks are influential figures in the worlds of politics and economy and provide statesmen with systematic consultations.
Islamophobia Institutionalized in US
Elsewhere in her remarks, Saghaye-Biriya said Islamophobia has been institutionalized in the US just like racism.
One can identify different types of Islamophobia in the US, she said, adding that the evident Islamophobia seen in the society against Muslims and those who look like Muslims is just a little part of the whole picture.
The institutionalized Islamophobia is such that it has permeated the US policies and is seen in both Republican and Democratic administrations, she said.
The scholar stressed that the Islamophobic policies in the Obama administration were not any fewer than of those in the administrations of George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
Thus, we see that Islamophobia has been institutionalized in the US but it has gone far beyond mere hatred and has now turned into targeting the Islamic resistance and preventing Muslims from using their power for policymaking, she added.
Islamophobia A Branch of Racism
Saghaye-Biriya described Islamophobia as a branch of racism and said more than 30 percent of African American Muslims experience both Islamophobia and racism.
In this period when we are witnessing a global outrage against racism, there is a good opportunity to make a bridge between the Islamic resistance and global anti-racism movements, she said.
Interaction between the Islamic resistance and anti-racism movements can happen here, she underlined.
Asked about American Muslims’ activities against Islamophobia, the author of “Elite American Think Tanks and Political Islam: Under the Grip of Orientalism and American Exceptionalism” said some Islamic organizations in the US such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have made efforts in this regard.
She further said the Muslim world’s advantage in the fight against Islamophobia is in countering it culturally.
“We should take public diplomacy seriously and (try to enlighten) countries’ public opinion,” she stressed.
West Fails in Fomenting Discord among Muslims
The scholar further said the West’s efforts to create discord among Muslims have failed so far and the Islamic resistance movement not only has not been weakened but has grown in strength day after day.
However, Saghaye-Biriya said, the West and the think tanks continue their efforts.
The Brookings Institution says Muslims should be divided into two groups of moderates and extremists, she said, adding that they consider those who want to use Islam as a framework for the world of politics, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, to be extremists.
“The Brookings Institution suggests that (the US) ignore this group and enter interaction with ‘moderates’ who act within the framework of secularism.”
She added that the RAND Corporation and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy define these two concepts differently. “(They believe) that extremist is someone who considers Islam to be the premier source of policymaking for life. So if you want to be considered moderate, you need to say you are first American or German and then a Muslim.”
The scholar said that according to the RAND Corporation, the US government should plan and organize a war between the so-called moderates and extremists.
“(This way) we ultimately end up with a German, British and American Islam that has lost its power and influence. They even say there needs to be a Hadith war waged in the Muslim world … to strengthen the ‘moderates’.”
She went on to say that the Washington Institute is an active Zionist lobbyist that supports promoting the so-called “moderate Islam” in Palestine that has a compromising approach.
In recorded video messages played at the unveiling ceremony on Monday, IHRC President Masoud Shajareh and Wayne State University Saeed Khan hailed the book for providing a good analysis of the role of political think thanks in US policy making and understanding the roots of Islamophobia in the country.
Saghaye-Biriya, who received her PhD degree in North American Studies from the University of Tehran in 2016, said she plans to write the second volume of the book focusing on ways of tackling Islamophobia in the West.