Affiliation: Foreign Policy
Organization/Publisher: Foreign policy
Date/Place: March 29, 2019/ U.S.
Type of Literature: Analysis
Word Count: 1434
Keywords: Arab regimes, Islamophobia, Far-right, Islamist
In this article, the authors highlight the often-overlooked trend among the Arab and Muslim governments in “fueling anti-Muslim hate as part of their campaigns to fight dissent at home and abroad” and their collaboration with far-right figures. During a public panel in 2017 in Riyadh, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates warned about the Islamist in Europe. According to this minister, European leaders are presenting a soft and tolerating position towards the presence of these “Islamists” who according to him will result in an endemic of Islamic extremism in the future. Although this statement is two years old, it has recently been circulated. Dollars are spent by these Arab regimes to think tanks, academics, institutions, and lobbying firms to study the domestic political activists who opposed their rule. The authors underline the fact that when activists happen to be religious, the field of “counter extremism” is the best narrative to front for them. These regimes try to gain empathy from the West by suggesting that they are also suffering from the same deceits of radical jihadists, and are seeking collaboration to stop the Islamist threat. Although these regimes cultivate conservative and far-right circles, their political goals do not overlap completely. The Islamophobia in the West can be more intense and wide-ranging than the variety supported by Arab governments. Terrorism is one of many excuses used by these governments to justify their repression. The authors also refer to the visit of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to Damascus and his support for Assad; similar support is also voiced by other far-right figures in Europe. Another example given by the authors is the support of Saudi Arabia to right-wing forces in Europe to avoid criticism because of the Yemen war, imprisonment of women activists, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. These regimes also try to silence political activists in their new home through labeling them as jihadist. The authors close their article by highlighting the role of foreign countries that are promoting prejudice and xenophobia, calling for the need of an urgent focus on their role.
By: Leyla Yildirim, CIGA Research Associate