From the first page Nathan Lean pulls you into an intricate narrative of Muslim life after the 9/11 attacks. He describes with great detail the most obscene, brutal and outright inhumane treatment of black and Asian people in the US over ten years following 9/11. They are painted as one homogenous block who all follow the same values as those who hijacked the planes.
The book moves through the years describing the most prominent features of the demonisation of Islam. Starting with a huge wall of monster theory, Lean gives a tiring amount of examples that is enough to stop even the most determined reader. However, this theory does give a good understanding of demonisation through media as the face of racism has changed and developed to become more subversive and dynamic.
Lean moves to examine the main perpetrators of Islamophobia, targeting a few extreme individuals and pinning them up as the reason for the hatred of Islam to sustain and be re-energised. By highlighting the infamous Atlas Shrugs blogger Pamella Geller (who recently distanced herself from ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson), as well as Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, he places social media as the pedestal of Islamophobia and them as the curators.
In doing so Lean takes accountability away from other forces such as the US government for pandering to arguments against Islam, as well as the mainstream media, who on 9/11 announced it was an “Islamic attack” on the founding values of American society.
Lean describes the role played by evangelical Christians, not only in movements such as SIOA (Stop Islamisation Of America), but also in government, in pushing a religion into power and displacing (or attempting to displace) the Muslim population.
The industry that is described is dominated by Christian preachers who believe it is their god-given duty to rid the world of Islam, thus justifying and legitimising their hate campaigns. The work of these preachers heavily involved in right wing parties is exposed to show the obtuse institutionalised racism.
In the last chapters Lean looks at the global perspective. He rightly brings the subject back to governments and problems which could be tackled yet are allowed to fester – such as laws designed for right wing parties to grow.
Overall the idea of looking at Islamophobia as an industry is a fresh stance. It showcases the corruption and profit margins which lie behind political agendas and the network of individuals and businesses that work behind the scenes.
Throughout the book Lean focuses on individuals. However, the conclusion is a powerful call for everyone opposed to discrimination to unite against an industry of hate and violence. Some fine tuning (as well as dropping the academic tone) is needed but Islamophobia Industry is very informative and well worth picking up.
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