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Islamofascism Awareness Week: Anti-Muslim Smearcasting On Campus

Isabel MacdonaldSteve Rendall

"Islamofascism Awareness Week" is back on college campuses across the nation this week.

Organized by David Horowitz, who has a documented record of spreading hysteria and bigotry against Muslims, and featuring other noted anti-Muslim bigots, the week would seem to have little to do with promoting "awareness."   The central theme of the first IFAW, held on campuses across the U.S. in October 2007, was the "oppression of women under Islam." How did Horowitz et al express their concern for the "plight of Muslim women"? By featuring talks by Ann Coulter, who has stated that the U.S. "would be a much better country if women did not vote", and has called Muslims "ragheads." IFAW's pro-women position was additionally manifest in calling on students to sit-in and picket women's studies departments (because of course feminists support the oppression of women!).

Some people were so confused by Horowitz's message that at Michigan State University a sympathetic student group hosted an actual fascist guest speaker, Nick Griffin--the leader of the racist British National Party--during IFAW.

Featuring a line-up of guest speakers whom the media-watch group FAIR has named the nation's top anti-Muslim "smearcasters" (see the full report at, IFAW 08 promises to bring students another heavy serving of hypocrisy.

First there is Horowitz himself, whose anti-Muslim and anti-Arab writings at Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine have been exposed for inaccuracy (New Yorker, 4/14/08). At the University of California at Santa Barbara, he is known for denouncing students for wearing green (he accused them of supporting Hamas), and wearing Arab Keffiyehs (for Horowitz, wearing the traditional Arab scarf is apparently as tantamount to honoring terrorism) (Santa Barbara Independent, 5/15/08).

Robert Spencer, a featured guest speaker of IFAW 08, is the founder of the notoriously Islamophobic website Jihad Watch. Specializing in one-sided interpretations of Islam, he has been widely criticized by respected Islamic scholars such as Louay M. Safi, Khaleel Mohammed and Carl Ernst (one scholar has dubbed Spencer "the principal the new academic field of Islam-bashing").

Then there is Daniel Pipes, whose "expertise" on Islam has included erroneously linking the Oklahoma City bombing to Islamic groups (USA Today, 4/20/95), and warning that (National Review, 11/19/90) "Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene.... All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most."

Steven Emerson, another featured speaker of IFAW 08, is a "terrorism expert" with a long record of being wrong. Emerson erroneously blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Middle Eastern groups (CBS Evening News, 4/19/95), and has in more recent years taken to accusing the State Department of collaborating with extremists because it is doing outreach to mainstream American Muslim groups.

With a line-up of speakers so clearly geared towards promoting anti-Muslim smears rather than raising awareness, many students will undoubtedly see straight through Horowitz's hoax. In fact, last year it turned out that many campuses Horowitz had listed as participating in IFAW were reportedly not actually participating in Horowitz's Muslim-bashing week. When contacted by the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee, many reportedly asked to be taken off of Horowitz's list of participating institutions.

Sadly, many major corporate news producers and editors do not seem to be so wise.

Robert Spencer is a favorite on Fox News and on CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck show. Despite his long record of error, Steve Emerson continues to be cited on NBC, CNN, and in the New York Times as an expert on "Islamic terrorism." And Daniel Pipes' writing has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Time magazine, while he has been praised by CBS as being "years ahead of the curve in identifying the threat of radical Islam."

IFAW's "must-see" movie--the anti-Muslim propaganda "documentary" Obsession--has been shown in full on Fox News, with clips also shown and raved about by CNN, and it was recently delivered to some 28 million newspaper subscribers as an advertising supplement by some 70 newspapers across the country.

In short, news consumers have been subjected to "Islamofascism Awareness" for years! It's time to wise up, speak out and de-list from the media's year-round IFAW.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Isabel Macdonald

Isabel Macdonald is a Montreal-based freelance journalist and the former communications director of the media watch group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). She can be reached at isabelmacdonald1 at Follow her on Twitter:

Steve Rendall

Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City).

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