The baffling argument that has become mainstream under Trump: ‘Islam is not a religion’

Anxiety and fear were palpable among American Muslims last week after the mass slaughter in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand: Would a violent attacker enter their mosque, too? But even in their moment of vulnerability, one lawmaker insisted Muslims were the “real cause of bloodshed.” Fraser Anning, a senator in Australia, said the core problem was Islam.

“The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a 6th-century despot masquerading as a religious leader. … The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. … It is the religious equivalent of fascism,” he said. “And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance does not make them blameless.”

For many Americans, Anning’s statement may seem like an outlier — an extreme right-wing sentiment that does not reflect mainstream politics. But it taps into something strategic and concerted, the idea that “Islam is not a religion.” Islam, this idea suggests, is instead a dangerous political ideology, and therefore Muslims have no right to respect, dignity or First Amendment protection for religious liberty.

Read more at the Washington Post. Follow the conversation at #whenislamisnotareligion

Asma Uddin is the founding editor of altM and the author of When Islam Is Not a Religion: Inside America’s Fight for Religious Freedom, available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.


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