Islamophobia brought Stephen Sheehi to speak at the Civic Media Center on Saturday.

The Arabic and Arab culture professor from the University of South Carolina came to speak about his new book "Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims."

Sheehi called Islamophobia, which he described as an irrational fear or hatred of Islam and Muslims, one of the inherent racist tropes in America.

Event coordinator James Schmidt agreed.

"Racism is the classic American way to divide and conquer," he said. "[Racism] is a linchpin in our society, unfortunately."

A group of 17 showed up for the event.

Lauren Byers, 19, a student at UF, heard about the event from a friend and attended it to learn more about Islamophobia. With the conflicts in the Middle East and the United States involvement, Byers said Islamophobia is relevant now more than ever.

"It's a way for America to justify the war," she said.

Tracy Graham, a 20-year-old UCF student, said white Americans don't experience acts of hate the way other people do and that they are not affected by racism the way other people are.

Islamophobia, Sheehi said, is a rising example of racism in America. Anti-Muslim protests rallies and "American lunatics like Terry Jones" are convenient places to see the "hatred of brown people," he said.

He said Islamophobia is not seen as a larger phenomena but more of an extremist phenomena, which can cause it to be overlooked. It's something most Americans share, he said.

Sheehi, who described himself as a "Arab-Christian-Catholic," said he is determined to get Americans to reflect on their own predispositions rather than Muslim culture and characteristics.

His goal is for "white Americans" to discover why they have problems with Muslims. He said solving those problems is not the responsibility of the "brown people."

"You don't ask a Jewish person why the Holocaust happened," he said. "You don't ask a victim for the reasons they were victimized."

Ziad Ghanimi, a spokesman for the Islamic center in Gainesville, said the U.S. is not at war with Islam. Anti-Muslim events are happening more than in the past, but Ghanimi said this country is not as racist as some would suggest.

He said there might be areas where hatred is more common or concentrated than others, but the United States is a country of immigration and other countries are much worse.

"A general rule when you come to this country is that it doesn't belong to any ethnic group," he said. "It belongs to everyone."


(9) comments

Autumn M

First of all the mere fact that you say you have to have a discussion with "white people" shows a projection of your own racism. There are Amerian Indians that have problem with Islam, Hindus who have a problem with Islam, blacks who have problems with Islam, Hispanic, catholic, ect...and the fact that you are attempting to turn this into a race issue is a logical fallacy as Islam is NOT a race it is a religion. Race is not a choice.. Islam is a choice. I have no issue with brown fact I am brown as I am hispanic. I have no issue with Arabs because there are christian arabs, hindu arabs, wiccan arabs ect..I do have a problem with any race that is Islamic and I could go on all day from what I read in the Quran, hadiths and Sunnah to prove Islam is a supremist ideology with the prime directive if shouding the entire world under Shariah Law and either converting or subduing the worlds population. Qurn 4:34 says its ok to beat your wife if she does not obey you or have sex with you upon demand. Under the Shariah it is a capital offense to defect from Islam to another is capital offense to have affairs outside marriage, to be homosexual, to blasphamy, or to be a witch. Under the Shariah your hand is to be cut off for stealing, womens testimony in court is half that of man, women are a degree above women, non muslims of the book must accept dhimmitude or second class citizenship and forced to pay the jiyza or humilation tax..and marriage and sex with a 9 year old girl is sunnah. This is why I reject Islam...there is a very real legitamate fear of Islam for obvious reasons until till it is reformed and there is seperation of mosque and state and put an end to islamic sedition on American soil people will continue to reject Islam and the muslim people.


Autumn M: you have a problem with Islam because the Quran says it's OK to do things you disagree with? You say this in the same breath that you say you don't have a problem with Hindus, Wiccans, Christians, ect without taking into account that each of these religions book have text that support slavery, domestic violence, genocide, and murder.

I'm not saying that any of these religions are bad. I don't know many Christians that believe bloodletting is a sin punishable by death. I also don't know any Muslims that believe it's OK to beat their wives.

Your double standard just shows how Islamaphoic you are. That is, you have an irrational hatred of Islam.


Stop justifying the islamic religion. You say you don't know any muslims who believe things written in the quaran, but there are many who do believe these things. Do you remember 9/11 and do you remember that in the Quran it says that anyone who doesn't convert to islam needs to be killed?

We don't have a problem with the quran b/c it says says it is "ok to do things we disagree with". We have a problem because Islam teaches ""fight and slay the infidels wherever you find them?" (9:5)"

I understand that the majority of muslims don't want me killed and that is great, but their religion teaches that they should and I don't understand how they justify being part of a religion that teaches that (along with many other things including complete disrespect for women)


Autumn, I second your point about the implicit racism - I wrote the same thing in a letter to the editor...

Uncle B


I'll repeat what jtizzi wrote. "Hindus, Wiccans, Christians, etc ...each of these religion's books have text that support slavery, domestic violence, genocide, and murder."

The Quran's immoral teachings are on par with the Bible's immoral teachings. The difference between the two religions is that we find more muslims are actually doing what their holy book tells them to do (e.g. 9/11). We don't see many christians killing their neighbors for working on the sabboth (like the Bible teaches).

So, if you want to blame the muslims for something, blame them for being too religious (following the teachings of their holy book too literally). But you can't attack their holy book itself while letting the Bible off the hook. The books themselves are equally guilty.


One difference between Islam and some of the other religions is that the archaic policies and practices found in non-Islamic religions are not widely practiced in the current day. But many of the barbaric principles advocated in the Quran (alongside the good ones) are indeed widely adhered to by many Muslims today. Even if we grant that only a fraction of contemporary Muslims adhere to the barbaric aspects of the Quran, it comes out to many millions of people. And they are not passive about their fanatical principles either; they are actively engaged in imposing them by force.


For those who seem to be more racist than they'd like to acknowledge...let's clarify "Islamophobia" and the vast amount of identities that are subjected to it: CHRISTIANS, JEWS, and ANYONE of ARAB descent. THESE PEOPLE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM. The common misconception that ALL ARABS are MUSLIMS is the exact reason why this is a form of RACISM, and NOTHING BUT.


They should just kick them all out of here. I'm tired of extremists plotting out mass attacks on good Americans. Put them on a plane and release them in the jungle in Africa and tell them to have a nice life. I like how France made them take their stupid face scarfs and hats off.


Shit. This is a bastion of reaction here.

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