Islamofascism is a phrase used by pro-war commentators to demonise Islamic groups and encourage support for military intervention in the Middle East. The phrase invokes the collective memory of the Second World War, suggesting Western militarism to be benevolent and heroic and its Islamist enemies as utterly wicked and implacable. It serves an important function in ridiculing peace activists because of the negative reputation of appeasement in Western political culture.
The use of the Second World War mythology can be seen in other elite discourses and pro-war propaganda such as the portrayal of the Kosovo conflict in the run up to the NATO bombings, or the designation of the aggressors in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq as "the allies".
Origins of the phrase
See: Malise Ruthven
A Lexis Nexis search suggests that the phrase was coined by Khalid Duran, who used it in an article in The Washington Times, discussing a book he had written for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) interfaith project called Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews.
Media use of the phrase
Although popular in the 'blogosphere' the phrase does not appear to have made a particularly siginifcant impact on major media. As the graph on the right shows, mentions in the Lexis Nexis World Newspapers Group since the genesis of the phrase peaked with just over 200 articles in 2006.
Other notable examples
Neoconservative ideologue Norman Podhoretz published a book in 2007 called World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. Interestingly Podhoretz is also affiliated to the American Jewish Committee. He is a former editor of the AJC's inhouse publication, Commentary.
Horowitz and Islamofascism "Awareness Week"
In 2007, David Horowitz and several other neocons initiated "Islamofascism Awareness Week". The FrontPage Magazine announcement reads:
- Beginning on October 22, student groups across the nation will hold Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week on their campuses. These protest weeks will feature a series of events designed to bring a message to these academic communities that challenges most of what students are taught about the so-called War on Terror both in the classroom and on the quad.
The Week’s events will include speeches about Islamo-Fascism by prominent figures, including former Senator Rick Santorum (Penn State, Temple and UPenn), Sean Hannity (Columbia), Ann Coulter (Tulane and USC), Dennis Prager (UC Santa Barbara), Robert Spencer (Brown, Dartmouth, University of Rhode Island, and DePaul), Daniel Pipes (Northeastern and UPenn), David Horowitz (Columbia, Emory, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin), Michael Ledeen (Maryland), Nonie Darwish (UCLA and Berkeley), Wafa Sultan (Stanford) and radio talk show hosts Melanie Morgan (San Francisco State), Michael Medved (University of Washington), Martha Zoeller (Georgia Tech), Alan Nathan (George Mason), Mark Larson (to be named) and many others.
A major theme of the Week will be the oppression of women in Islam. The photo accompanying this article, which shows a teenage girl buried before being stoned to death for alleged sexual offenses, will serve as the poster for the protest Week. The stoning took place in Iran.
- Görlach, J. S. (2011). Western representations of fascist influences on Islamist thought. in Feuchter, J., Hoffmann, F., & Yun, B.(Eds) Cultural Transfers in Dispute: Representations in Asia, Europe and the Arab World since the Middle Ages (Vol. 23). Campus Verlag.
- ↑ 'Fighting words; Introductory book angers some Muslims', The Washington Times, 20 July 2001
- ↑ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, FrontPage Magazine, 21 September 2007. And the dedicated Terrorism Awareness Project website (Accessed: 18 June 2008).