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One of the paradoxes facing conservative Muslims in North America is that while
their apologetic literature stresses “Islam as justice” – that justice is the paradigmatic
Qur’anic virtue after piety – in the eyes of the general public the progressive
Muslims have claimed the mantle of justice. This is a shame, since conservative or
traditionalMuslims are held to be generally unjust, whereas, as followers of Islam’s
traditional teachings, they ought to be at the forefront of the struggle for social and
economic justice. There are two dimensions to this perception: one is externally
generated and constitutes a very real threat to NorthAmerica’sMuslims; the second
one is internally generated and constitutes a significant barrier to Islam’s positive
reception by NorthAmerican society.
It is not an original statement to note that Islam’s general public image is bad.
Many scholars, among them Edward Said, Karim Karim, and Jack Shaheen, have
demonstrated time and again how the western legacy of Orientalism moved out of
the academy and into the secular media with the rise of the film and print media
industries. Such post-9/11 experts as Mahmoud Hamdani have noted the refining of
this image into a “good Muslim”/“bad Muslim” dichotomy. The secular or “moderate”
Muslims receive the accolade of the “good Muslims,” while traditional and
conservativeMuslims are the “badMuslims.” Efforts by Daniel Pipes and other neoconservative
writers to ensure that the general public and policy makers do not distinguish
between moderate conservatives and those who endorse violence to achieve
their goals have, unfortunately, been very successful.
The Clarion Fund’s mass mailing of the DVD “Radical Obsession” to 28 million
households in September 2008 clarifies the enormous power behind such neoconservative
goals. “Radical Obsession,” which purports to be only about jihadism,
manages through its imagery to connect allMuslims to violence.An excellently executed
piece of propaganda, it will likely have the desired goal: creating fear in the
general public’s mind about conservative Muslims. (Secular and progressive
Muslims will also suffer in the long run, as the general public will not be able to distinguish
between a secular and a non-secular Muslim, which is why the support
voiced by some of these Muslims vis-à-vis the DVD is disappointing, to say the least.) ...