Victimhood as Currency: The Case of “Islamophobia”

The recent events surrounding Jessie Smollet (and his ham-fisted attempts to garner some cash and sympathy by claiming to have been attacked by homophobic Trump supporters) is a neat little window into where the ‘culture of victimhood’ will inevitably lead to. If you assess people’s contribution to society by how much they are supposedly oppressed the temptation to up your ‘victimhood score’ will be too hard to resist for many. And boy, the rewards, can be staggering. In Smollet’s case everyone from the US House Speaker on down rushed to affirm that his experience earned him oodles of victimhood currency. Who knows, plenty of real currency (book deals, film contracts anyone?) may have followed. Pity that he seemingly spent a bit more time contemplating the rewards than in carefully planning his raid on the ‘Bank of Victimhood’.

Those of us who comment on the Islamification of the West are all too familiar with this kind of thing. Muslim groups have cottoned on to the fact that there is real benefit to be gained in being painted as the victim. This way, the plan to extend the influence of Islam on society can be conducted under the cover of deep concern for such a supposedly beleaguered community. The invention of the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a case in point. Any and all criticism of Islam as a religion and ideology can be turned into deep public sympathy by pulling out the ‘Victim Card’ (Islamophobia Edition). Sometimes cries of ‘Phobia’ is not enough to kill free speech about Islam, however. This is where what may now be called the ‘Smollet Approach’ comes in. Just a few examples (keep in mind that there are many more):

• In 2008, a Muslim student, Safia Z. Jilani, at Elmhurst College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, claimed that she was pistol whipped by an assailant who wrote “Kill the Muslims” in a women’s restroom at the college. The case garnered national media attention in the U.S. with many commentators pointing to it as evidence for a rise of “Islamophobic attacks”. Hundreds of Elmhurst students rallied in support of Muslim students at the college (some holding signs stating “I am ashamed to be American today”). Except that the entire thing was a hoax. Jilani was later charged with filing a false police report.

• On July 5, 2010, someone set fire to the Masjid Al-Hedaya (Islamic Center of Marietta, Georgia). This was immediately denounced as a hate-crime with a spokesperson for the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) calling for an investigation of bias against the Muslim community as the motive for the crime. The only problem was that the fire was started by a Muslim, Tamsir Mendy, who was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for his trouble.

• In 2010, self-described “Muslim leader” Noor Ramjnally from Loughton (an outer suburb of London) claimed that he was kid- napped by “anti-Muslim extremists” who threatened him at knife- point, demanding that he disband his Islamic prayer group. The case caused an uproar and the police spent 1850 man-hours trying to find the culprits, only to find that Ramjnally had made the whole thing up. He was sentenced to two years in prison for perverting the course of justice and wasting police time.

• In 2011, a Sydney woman, Carnita Matthew, was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. She claimed that she was targeted because she was wearing a burqa and accused the police officer who handled the matter of being racist and abusive. Australian Muslim groups enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon claiming that this was proof of “Islamophobic attitudes” within Australian society. Unfortunately for Ms. Matthew (and fortunately for the officer involved whose career would otherwise have been destroyed), the whole incident was captured on dash cam which showed that the officer remained polite throughout and none of the alleged “Islamophobic abuse” took place.

• Perhaps the most high-profile ‘Islamophobia Hoax’ of recent times took place in Toronto in January 2018. An 11 year old girl from Scarborough claimed that her hijab was cut from her head on the way to school. So great was the uproar that even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got in on the act, declaring on Twitter: “My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto. Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.” The only problem was, once again, that it was all made up, with a spokesman from the Toronto Police Service declaring (after the story began to unravel): “We had, as everyone knows, allegations of an extremely serious crime on Friday which we investigated — we had a team of investigators who put together a significant amount of evidence and they came to the conclusion that the events that were alleged did not happen.”

What all these incidents have in common is that, like Smollet’s story, the authorities eventually wised up to the fact that there was something fishy going on. How many more sophisticated plans actually succeeded? We will, of course, never know. The big questions that we need to ask is why at least within the Muslim community view so-called ‘Islamophobic incidents’ as so advantageous to their cause that they actively manufacture them? Please think about this next time you hear accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ being bandied about. Ask the age-old question ‘Who Benefits?’ The answer should be crystal clear. In at least some cases the ‘victims’ may be nothing of the sort.

For more on how the ‘Islamophobia’ canard is used to insulate Islam from criticism see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot

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