Debunking the “Islam is Not a Race!” Argument – Muslim Reverie

by October 15, 2011

Reblogged from:

Islamophobes think they have it all figured out.  After they read the works of anti-Muslim pseudo-intellectuals and propagandists, they become self-proclaimed “experts” on Islam.  The message they absorb from their favorite Islamophobe stars can be easily summarized as: “Islam is evil and must be wiped off the face of the Earth.  Furthermore, every single Muslim on the planet is plotting to take over the West (read: world) and any Muslim who claims otherwise is lying. Yes, this includes your Muslim friends, who you shouldn’t be friends with anyway.”

I’ve seen some Islamophobes embrace the term “Islamophobia” because they proudly admit being fearful of Islam. “Yes,” they say, “We are afraid of Islam, which is why we want it destroyed.”  Dang.  Geert Wilders has never been shy in stating he wishes for the Qur’an to be banned (Nazi-style) and for Muslims to be massively expelled from the West (Spanish Inquisition-style). Clearly, these views are appalling, dangerous, and racist.  However, as odd as it may sound (at least to people who abhor racism and oppression) Islamophobes justify their racism by claiming they are not racist.  Hence, the argument, “Islam is not a race.  I cannot be racist.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard Islamophobes and some well-intentioned non-Muslims make this argument whenever Islamophobia is addressed. The purpose, of course, is to derail conversations about Islamophobia and racism.  I’ve noticed the pattern of this response for quite a long time in workplaces, classrooms, on internet forums and blogs, etc.  You can picture the scenario involving an Islamophobe telling a Muslim that “all terrorists are Muslim.”  The Muslim person is insulted and calls the remark “racist.”  The Islamophobe steps up into the Muslim’s face and says, “It’s not racist!  Islam is not a race, idiot!”  He turns around and walks away, claiming victory for himself and starts high-fiving his buddies, who are like, “Oh man, you are so effing awesome!  You shut that Mozlem down!”

I wonder how Islamophobes expect Muslims to react after they make this pathetic argument.  Are we supposed to look surprised and realize, “Oh my God, Islam is not a race?  Really?  You mean I’ve been practicing Islam this whole time and didn’t know it was a religion?”  Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious, we know full well that Islam is not a race.  We know Islam, like any religion, is open to people of all racial backgrounds, including to those who are white (*gasp*).  However, what is also true is that Islam is racialized by the ideology of white supremacy, which means Muslims are cast as threatening racial Others. Take some time to understand this. The key word here is racialization, where racial characteristics and racist attitudes are assigned to groups and religions that are not races. No, Islam is not a race, but it is constructed as a race and the manner in which it is demonized is an extremely racial process.

In her book “Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics,” Sherene Razack describes the process of race thinking, which is a “structure of thought that divides up the world between the deserving and the undeserving according to descent.” Within the context of Muslims in settler states such as the US and Canada, Razack explains that race thinking is articulated when presidents and prime ministers of white-majority nations talk of the “American values” or “Canadian values” they are defending in the “war on terror.” Reinforced in this narrative is the notion of “culture clash,” which emphasizes on cultural difference between “the European majority and the Third World peoples (Muslims in particular).”  Since “culture clash” focuses on cultural difference and racism, white societies declare the “superiority of European culture,” which is “imagined as homogenous composite values,” by triggering stereotypical associations with Muslim-majority countries (Razack uses “the veil, female genital mutilation, arranged marriages” as examples of these associations). Reproducing this duality of “us versus them” where “the West has values and modernity and the non-West has culture,” Muslims are easily marked as racial Others that are antithetical and inherently opposite to the West. As Razack explains, “cultural difference, understood as their cannibalism, their treatment of women, and their homophobia, justifies the savagery that the West metes out.”

We see this sharp contrast in mainstream western media representations of Islam and Muslims.  Muslim men are consistently seen as dangerous brown-skinned and bearded men holding assault rifles, rioting in the streets, shouting “Allahu akbar,” and burning an American or Israeli flag.  Through this same lens, Muslim women are seen as veiled, oppressed, and sometimes dangerous, but also as victimized bodies that need to be rescued by western imperialist intervention. Through this racialization process, racism surfaces to demonize Islam and Muslims and treats them as “threats” that need to be exterminated. Razack, drawing upon Michel Foucault, states that “racism enables us to live with the murderous function of the state and to understand killing of Others as a way of purifying and regenerating one’s own race.”  In order for racism to function this way, race thinking must unite with bureaucracy, i.e. when “it is systematized and attached to a project of accumulation, it loses its standing as a prejudice and becomes instead an organizing principle.”  As Foucault articulates:

The fact that the Other dies does not mean simply that I live in the sense that his death guarantees my safety; the death of the Other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or the degenerate, or the abnormal) is something that will make life in general healthier: healthier and purer.

Razack elaborates on how systematized racism against Muslims operates:

In our time, one result is a securitized state in which it is possible to know that ‘the passenger who has ordered a special meal is non-smoking Muslim in seat 3K’ and to arrange for that passenger’s eviction from the aircraft. Racial distinctions become so routinized that a racial hierarchy is maintained without requiring the component of individual actors who are personally hostile towards Muslims. Increasing numbers of people find themselves exiled from political community through bureaucratic processes in which each state official can claim, as did Adolf Eichmann about arranging the transport of Jews to Nazi Germany, that he was only doing his duty. In the ‘war on terror’, race thinking accustoms us to the idea that the suspension of rights is warranted in the interests of national security.

Captured in the phrase ‘they are not like us’, and also necessarily in the idea that ‘they’ must be killed so that ‘we’ can live, race thinking becomes embedded in law and bureaucracy so that the suspension of rights appears not as a violence but as the law itself. Violence against the racialized Other comes to be understood as necessary in order for civilization to flourish, something the state must do to preserve itself. Race thinking, Silverblatt reminds us in her study of the Spanish Inquisition, usually comes clothed in an ‘aura of rationality and civilization.’

Indeed, by making demonization of racialized Others an organizing principle and social norm in mainstream media and politics, as well as asserting that white-dominated societies are “more rational” and “deserving,” the atrocities and brutalities committed by the west are conveniently erased.  We can see how systematic race thinking is to the white supremacist settler state when ongoing genocide against Native peoples is made possible through established laws and accepted norms that Native communities are “vanishing.”  After all, the United States could not exist without the genocide of Native peoples.  Since 1492, white colonialists and settlers demonized Natives as “savages” and by the mid-1800s, they declared “Manifest Destiny,” which perpetuated the belief that the United States not only had the right to expand their culture and steal land, but was also destined to. As indigenous scholars and activists have pointed out, the message was/is clear: Natives must be killed so that white settlers can live. Maythee Rojas adds: “This concept of white supremacy and domination became actively employed to remove people from their lands and force them to assimilate to a Euro-American society. As a result, physical bodies became a primary target.”

It is this legacy of colonialism, imperialism, and genocide that continues today, not only within white supremacist societies in North America and Europe, but also in its wars against Muslim-majority countries.  After 9/11, the Bush administration reproduced the idea that Western Christian values are  “superior” to non-Western culture by propagating the idea that the US was attacked because “we are free.”  Former vice president Dick Cheney confidently stated on national television that Iraqis were going to greet invading and occupying American soldiers as “liberators.”  Under the Obama administration, war and occupation in Afghanistan advances while drone attacks have killed over a thousand in Pakistan.  As racist war propaganda dehumanizes Muslims and Islam, US soldiers bomb, shoot, torture, and rape Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani bodies.  As racist discourse about Islam grows (i.e. it is a “violent,” “misogynistic,” “oppressive,” and “backwards” religion), mainstream white feminist groups took the opportunity to express their support for the war in Afghanistan, claiming that US invasion would “liberate” Afghan women.  The American soldiers murdering and raping Iraqi and Afghan women not only contradicts these claims, but also points to a disturbing reality of sexual violence being integral to war and colonialism.  As Andrea Smith reminds us, “If sexual violence is not simply a tool of patriarchy but also a tool of colonialism and racism, then entire communities of color are victims of sexual violence.”

It is significant to draw connections to the way demonization of Muslims leads to such sexual violence and brutality by Western occupying forces in Muslim-majority countries.  Muslim lands are considered “dirty,” “backwards,” and “hostile,” making the land violable.  Muslim men must be killed while the racialized bodies of Afghan or Iraqi women, like their land, become violable for Western masculinist power and possession. That is, since Muslim women are oppressed, who better to save victimized and racialized women from culture than the “civilized European” who represents “values” and “modernity”?  Razack explains:

Saving Brown women from Brown men, as Gayatri Spivak famously put it, has long been a major plank in the colonial ship since it serves to mark the colonizer as modern and civilized and provides at the same time an important reason to keep Brown men in line through practices of violence. In the post-9/11 era, this aspect of colonial governance has been revitalized. Today it is not only the people of a small white village in Canada who believe that Muslim women must be saved. Progressive people, among them many feminists, have come to believe in the urgency of saving Muslim women from their patriarchal communities. As a practice of governance, the idea of the imperilled Muslim woman is unparalleled in its capacity to regulate. Since Muslim women, like all other women, are imperilled in patriarchy, and since the rise of conservative Islam increases this risk (as does the rise of conservative Christianity and Hinduism), it is hard to resist calls to ‘save the women.’

Muslim women are not the property of Muslim men, therefore the imperialist notion that Muslim women need to be saved suggests they are helpless and don’t have a mind of their own. This is not to downplay the sexist oppression and misogyny Muslim women endure and fight against in Muslim-majority countries, but rather to point out the misogyny inherit in colonial savior fantasies.  Meanwhile, Muslims living in North America and Europe are marked as threatening racial Others that need to be stigmatized, profiled, incarcerated, put under surveillance, etc. Since the settler state determines who belongs and who doesn’t, and who must live and who must die, immigrants of color, as Smith argues, “generally become targeted as foreign threats, particularly during war-time.”  She adds, “Orientalism allows the United States to defend the logics of slavery and genocide as these practices enable it to stay ‘strong enough’ to fight these constant wars… For the system of white supremacy to stay in place, the United States must always be at war.”

At this point I would imagine the Islamophobe getting impatient and not buying this whole “racialization” business.  I’ve tried to explain this several times to people who have left such comments on my blog: “Race has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with Islam.”  Most of the time, there is no response from these commenters, but when there is a reply, it’s typically a childish ad homimen attack. “You’re a moron, Islam is not a race, dammit!” they shout while (probably) jumping in the air and stomping the ground out of frustration.  Aside from the sources I’ve cited to counter their argument and personal experiences with Islamophobia, I remember how I saw this play out at a talk.  Earlier this year, I was one of two guest speakers at a local university hosting an event on Islamophobia in the West.  When a room about 40-50 students were asked to write down what first came to mind when they heard the words “Muslim man,” the responses were consistent with the racialization I discussed above.  Non-Muslim students wrote the following: “Arabic,” “turban,” “Middle Eastern,” “dark-skinned,” “beard,” “violent,” “aggressive,” “controlling,” “prayer rug,” “terrorist,” etc.  When they were given the same instructions for the words “Muslim woman,” they answered: “Veiled,” “headscarf, “oppressed,” “brown,” “shy,” “obedient,” “religious,” “serious,” “exotic,” etc.

See what’s happening here? What became clear from the responses was that non-Muslims associated Muslim men and women with racialized stereotypes. When it was my turn to speak, it was interesting how some of the non-Muslims made flying carpet fallacies and weren’t disturbed by the Islamophobia in the west.  When some students told me later that they didn’t think my use of the word “racism” was appropriate because, um, “Islam is not a race, dammit!” I reminded them of the racialized stereotypes they assigned to Muslim men and women. A Muslim can be black, brown, white, etc., but look at the attitudes about Muslims; look at the discourse surrounding them and their faith; look at how they and Islam are so politicized; look at the racial language that is used to describe Muslims.

Yes, Islam is not a race, but the mainstream discourse and perception of Islam and Muslims in media, politics, and law casts Muslims as racial Others. Having said that, when Islamophobes try to derail a conversation about Islamophobia by arguing “Islam is not a race,” they are also dismissing how oppressive power structures and hierarchies operate in the white supremacist societies.

It is no exaggeration to say that the “Islam is not a race” argument is a dangerous one. It works to legitimize state racism, particularly the racist laws and policies, surveillance programs, and imperialist wars that continue to target Muslims both in the west and in Muslim-majority countries. Islamophobes make this argument because they want to legitimize Islamophobia, and what better way to justify something than trying to convince people that the oppressive attitudes, behaviors, policies, and wars you advocate are “not racist”?

Demonizing Islam

Demonizing Islam


Duh sa sjekirom iz hercegovačkog Darkwooda

“Nadahnuti” Luka Goluža nam iz Kanade priča priču o “duhu” Hercegovine, u rubrici “Duhom protiv tiranije” na web portalu (postoji i knjiga kao kompilacija članaka  iz ove rubrike, ili obratno, koga briga!), a kroz koju se čitateljima serviraju bapske priče kao povjesne, koje se, kao, nastoje “otrgnuti od zaborava”, dok uglavnom vračaju čitaoca u mrak srednjeg vijeka i ispunjavaju tjeskobom, prezirom i mržnjom, koji su usmjereni na savremenike komšije-susjede Bošnjake i muslimane, kroz priče iz rubrike nazivanim Turci, poturčenjaci, izmišljeni narod, itd – wow, huuuh, exhilarating !
Evo kako “mali” Luka Goluža zamišlja “duh” valjda jednog podneblja – koje je doduše, “vjerovali ili da”, i samo vrlo jasno etno-religijski rasistički ograničeno: na “duh” i “tiraniju”; na “hrabre” kršćanke-hrvatice te “pedofilne” i “razvratne” muslimane-poturčenjake. Čista nauka & pure reason…


Duh sa sjekirom iz hercegovačkog “Darkwooda” – not to be confused with stereotypical racist “Tamni Vilajet”

  • Sorry za svu silu “navodnika”, drugačije nije moglo….


The Crimes of Shimon Peres

Excellent interview with Miko on the career of Israeli ex-president and war criminal Shimon Peres, who passed away recently and was prised as peacemaker genius by US and European leaders at the funeral – Miko’s interview here is less then 10 minutes long but very concise and to the point !

Miko Peled

On September 28, Miko spoked RT’s Afshin Rattansi about Shimon Peres’ legacy as the architect of illegal Israeli settlements and as the man who brought nuclear weapons to the Middle East.

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Horizonti humanosti. Uređuje - MARJAN HAJNAL

Mirjana Kapetanović



Područje današnje Bosne i Hercegovine, kako se često, pogotovo u zadnje vrijeme naglašava je multikulturna i multireligijska sredina. To nije nikakakav kuriozitet modernih vremena. Izgleda da su ovi krajevi i njegovi ljudi oduvijek bili otvoreni prema različitim religijama. Nabrojimo samo neke religije koje su našle utočište na malenom prostoru Bosne i Hercegovine: kršćanstvo, islam, judaizam, hinduizam, a u starijim dobima bogumili, neomanihejci, ponegdje se još mogu naći ostaci crkvica templara viteškog reda nastalog u 12. stoljeću, čiji su sljedbenici bili mahom vojnici koji su u dodiru sa moćnim Orijentom doživjeli otuđenje od kršćanstva, okrećući se mističnoj doktrini. No, najzačudnije je pronalaženje tragova mitraističkog kulta, za čije neosporno postojanje su pronađeni dokazi u Konjicu, Lisičićima, Vitlu kod Prozora u Bosni i Hercegovini, kao i u Ptuju, Cavtatu, Sisku, zatim u Italiji gdje je najveći hram boga…

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hollywood US military propaganda

“Independence day” sly US military propaganda – surprise, surprise

I hear stories from my grandfather about his generation fighting the Nazis, and I think, “Yes, now there’s an evil I wish I had the moral certainty to confront.” The type of adversary you could be proud to go into battle against without overthinking it. Now? Well, who even knows who we’re fighting against.

That’s why this recruitment effort from the U.S. Army, in collaboration with the forthcoming major motion picture Independence Day: Resurgence, directed by Roland Emmerich, scheduled for a June 24, 2016 release, speaks to me as a generic representative of my particular demographic. I know there’s something out there far more important than all of the petty squabbling you see on the news these days from the right and the left, and of course I’m referring to the menace of horrific alien space bugs and their infamous world-landmark-destroying lasers.

The first time I started to worry about the very real and not at all fictional impending alien invasion was in a commercial for the film Independence Day: Resurgence, in theaters June 24, 2016, titled “United We Survive | Join the ESD.”  

“Twenty years ago the world escaped the clutches of extinction,” explains the strident voiceover of a politician, who sounds a little like Hillary Clinton, but never mind. “We must never forget our survival is only possible when we stand together. We have found strength and unity as a planet, and that strength has brought us the power to survive.”

We then learn about the importance of the Earth Space Defense, which is, as far as the spot lets on, a real thing that actually exists.

The commercial closes by encouraging me, a healthy rural or exurban male, to go to enlist at A second video features a different man talking about how proud he is of his daughter who, like him, has enlisted to fly jet planes against the alien horde. Like most of you, I have long sought the approval of my father, so this resonated. “Be someone’s hero,” the text of the commercial says in big letters. “Paid for by the U.S. Army,” it says in much smaller letters.

I followed the URL, like the nice people in the commercials said to do, and found a really professional looking portal to interstellar heroism. The introduction read:


That purpose does seem pretty simple when you break it down to brass tacks.

And just below that:

Learn more about U.S. Army careersIndependence Day: Resurgence In theaters June 24

I’m also given the opportunity to unlock exclusive content from Independence Day: Resurgence, in theaters June 24, 2016, by granting the Army access to my Facebook page. Done.

I decided to enlist.

I found all sorts of realistic simulations that appealed to me, a healthy exurban or rural male. I’m also exceptionally likely to understand the world through the context of the easily discerned Good v. Evil narrative of most video games, which I play frequently.

Four training missions gave me what I think is a pretty good picture of what it must be like to join the military. In one, I pointed my cursor at a petri dish of alien microbes and clicked on them, earning points along the way.

I only scored 92% in my first effort, but I feel like I could master the task given the hundreds of man hours I put into a typical game.

In another mission I had to crack the code of an alien message.

I have to admit I faired a little worse at this one, pulling in a still somewhat respectable 0%. 

Nonetheless, I was informed at the end that:


Maybe I could be one of those? 

When I was asked if I wanted to learn more, a link sent me to this page, with all sorts of information about the job of a cryptologist explained in cool-sounding military jargon. A cartoon avatar named Sgt. Star looked on stoically, but helpfully, as if he really wanted me to perform my best, and offered to answer any questions I might have.

I only had a couple of questions. First:

“Are space bugs real?”

SGT. STAR: Good question. I’m not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

Hmm. How about this one:

“Is this some propaganda bullshit or what?”

SGT STAR: Watch your language or I’ll have to shut you down.

Kusta Neandertal

Kusta stari, krug se zatvara: ponosnog srbina Nemanje sve je manje dok plače nad getoizacijom BiH, “iseljenim” višegrađanima, i izumrlim multi-etničkim društvom

Šizofreni režiser svojom pričom može, sasvim komotno, prepadati malu djecu, žene i starce😉


Za umjetnost: u potrazi za svojim porijeklom i precima

Iz umjetničkih razlog: u potrazi za svojim porijeklom i precima

Intervju za ciriški “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”

Režiser Emir Kusturica rekao je da na ovim prostorima ako čovjek želi da snimi uspješan film, ne može da zaobiđe politiku.

– Mnogi umjetnici prave grešku, time što prekidaju saradnju sa državom, kada se ne slažu sa političarima. To je glupo. Ja sarađujem od 1983. godine sa političarima. Tada sam se obratio Cvijetinu Mijatoviću, kasnijem predsjedavajućem Predsjedništva Socijalističke Jugoslavije. Kasnije sam naišao na (Slobodana) Miloševića, (Vojislava) Koštunicu i (Milorada) Dodika. Ta metoda je sporna samo ako rezultat nije odgovarajući, rekao je Kusturica u intervjuu za ciriški list “Neue Zürcher Zeitung“.

Na tvrdnju da njegov uspjeh ima veze i sa politikom, Kusturica je rekao da na Balkanu nema drame bez politike.

– Ako pogledate naša najvažnija djela, Selimovićevu ‘Tvrđavu’, radove Ace Popovića ili Dušana Kovačevića, kod svih je politika glavni motiv. To je drugačije u Švajcarskoj. Tamo drama može da ima čisto individualni karakter. Ali ovdje se individualna svijest, ne može odijeliti od društvene situacije. Ovdje je pojedinac neodvojivo spojen za svoje ‘krdo'”, naglasio je srpski režiser.

On je ocijenio da je, prije svega, u malim državama bolje raditi sa državom nego sa tajkunima, jer su tajkuni zainteresovani samo za profit.

Govoreći o svom idejnom projektu – Andrićgradu, Kusturica je rekao da je Ivo Andrić odrastao u Višegradu i kroz prozor posmatrao most i divio se.

– Kada je postao uspješan pisac, on je napisao da su putevi njegovog djetinjstva bili najvažniji putevi i da su najtužniji u njegovom životu bili crveni tepisi, po kojima je hodao. On je razumio bosansku sudbinu. Bez obzira na to koliko visoko letiš, na kraju ostaješ vezan za put djetinjstva, naglasio je Kusturica.

On je dodao da želi tu misao da iskoristi za svoj kulturno obrazovni centar.

– Riječ je o obrazovanju. Ono je jedini put da se zaustave međusobna klanja na ovom prostoru. Iz Višegrada su se u posljednjem ratu svi muslimani iselili, mnogi su ubijeni, većina je protjerana. U ostalim dijelovima istočne Bosne bilo je gore. Višegrad je jedan depresivan grad, između ostalog, zato što tamo nema više muslimana, kaže Kusturica.

On je rekao da je njegova ideja da tim tvrdim glavama, koje mogu da se sjete postanka svijeta i svih konflikata od postanka svijeta, ponudi nešto protiv depresije da se ne bi ponovo klali.

– U svakom od tih ljudi krije se toliko mnogo kontroverzi. Da bi tu napetost isprovocirali u Bosni vam ne trebaju nikakve različite etničke grupe. Taj bijes nema ništa sa različitim religijama. Andrić to opisuje ovako – duboko ukopan kao u brdu sedimentiran bijes. Kada on poraste, to je kao plamen vatre. Moj povratak u Bosnu dešava se na poluostrvu u Višegradu. Ovdje želim da stvorim nešto dobro. U Bosni sam napadan zbog svega, što nisam uradio. Najgore što kažu jeste da sam pio viski sa Miloševićem kada je pala Srebrenica. To je totalno nenormalno i potpuno izmišljeno, naglasio je Kusturica.

On je podsjetio da je najveću borbu za Andrićgrad imao sa Višegrađanima, što je, kako jer naglasio, za nepovjerovati.

– Ali sada ti provincijalci imaju kafanu u Andrićgradu koja izgleda kao kafana u Dubrovniku. Gledaju ljude koji ranije nikada ne bi ni kročili u Višegrad. Sada u srcu grada imaju turski dio sa minaretom. Pet hiljada islamskih zajednica nisu bile u stanju da tamo grade.

– Ja sam to uradio. Postaviću i spomenik – Mehmed Paša Sokolović grli svog brata Makarija, srpskog patrijarha iz Peći. Kada naši narodi ne žive izmješani, to nije dobro, tako se pokazalo. Pogledajte Sarajevo. Taj grad samo daje privid multietničkog života, rekao je Kusturica.

Na pitanje zbog čega mu je identitet toliko važan s obzirom da se 2005. godine krstio u Srpskoj pravoslavnoj crkvi, Kusturica je rekao da je tragao za svojim porijeklom kada su mu umrli roditelji.

– Ja sam za Sarajevo izdajica. Tada sam jednostavno želio da znam, gdje pripadam. To je bio poriv, kao za higijenom. Onda sam brzo odlučio. Ali sada me smatraju krivim, što sam tragao za svojim identitetom, naglasio je Kusturica u intervjuu za ciriški list “Neue Zürcher Zeitung“.

On je rekao da mu prebacuju da je promijenio vjeru, što nije tačno.

– Ja nikada nisam imao vjeru. Krstio sam se da bih znao gdje ću biti sahranjen”, rekao je Kusturica.

Autor: Srna / Dnevni Avaz