This briefing looks at 2 Facebook pages that promote Islamophobia as their core objective. It also examines content they have been posting in relation to COVID-19.
Anti United Nations
The page Anti United Nations (ID:121668961227024) is liked by 3425 people and has 3579 followers. It was created on 11 May 2010.
The page lists its mission as exposing ‘the works of the UN’, and is mostly focused on the UN. It targets the work of the UN in relations to Muslims and generally promotes an Islamophobic agenda. In its “about us” section the page says, “Western democracies should opt out of UN and form their own alliance, lending help to those who won’t use it against us.The UN has proven itself to be the world’s anti-Israel mouthpiece”.
This page has had a history, over several years, of spreading Islamophobic messages. The page frequently reposts news articles from the Geller Report founded by Pamela Geller, a well known “figurehead for Islamophobic Organisations”, who is described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as “one of the most flamboyant anti-Muslim activists in the United States”. Geller uses her platform to connect with and amplify growing anti-Muslim sentiment.
Alongside the posts, the “Anti United Nations Page” page shares its ‘opinions’, capitalising on sensationalist headlines in news articles to spread Islamophobic messages. The page has a political motive, to force Western democracies to form their own alliance, but other than spreading Islamophobia, the page fails to do any real work towards this goal.
Example 1: Conspiracy Links
The page shared an article from The Gateway Pundit. This is a source described by Politico as “a conservative site known for spreading hoaxes”, and by the New York Times as “a conspiracy-peddling far-right website”. The page adds the comment, “Once they are reduced to playing the race card we know that it is basically proof they are lying”.
The page shares another article from The Gateway Pundit, the accompanying statement pushes its anti Muslim and anti Chinese sentiment by alleging that the WHO is run by Muslims. The post alleges that the WHO should be renamed the Chinese Health Organisation.
Example 3: Attacking the WHO
The page also shares Fox News content about President Trump’s push for a review of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and allegations of it having a pro-China bias.
SIUSA Stop the Islamization of the United States of America
The page SIUSA Stop the Islamization of the United States of America (ID:123369097685500 ) is liked by 9,506 people and has 9,542 followers. It was created on 21/05/2010.
The page has been created to ‘show the United States of America that she has friends all over the world and within…friends who will stand through thick and thin, and promote her wherever they are. At times, the truth might not prevail but it is always true!’.
This is another page which aims to spread Islamophobia using articles shared from the Geller Report. The page wants to spread its American Values, in the same way that Pamela Geller does but fails to recognise that the news report it shares are far from true.
The page pushes its Anti-Muslim rhetoric with similar methodologies to many other Islamophobic pages. It uses sensationalist conservative news reports then shares Islamophobic opinions on those stories to frame them in a manner that maximizes the spread of hate.
The page is now focused on vilifying Muslims in ways that are connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a clear effort to remain relevant and secure the spread of intolerance during this time of crisis.
Example 1: Mosques Open while Churches Closed
The page has shared an article from The Blaze, a self-described conservative news source, which implies special treatment of Muslims saying they get to pray in mosques whilst churches remain closed. The post alludes to Muslims receiving special treatment from the New York government. This is in contrast to the fact that New Yorks’ Mayor, Bill De Blasio, has threatened to shut down any religious institution as there is a ban on gatherings in New York City, an epicentre for the spread of the virus.
The page shared post from the Conservative Times which has the caption, “Ok….soooo Its NOT ok for Christians and Jews to celebrate Easter for one day. But they can celebrate rammin dan for an entire month and you will cater?? No wonder the virus is worst there!!”. The post attempts to incite hatred for Muslims by outlining how the New York Mayor has threatened to shut Churches and Synagogues but is giving the Muslim community half a million free meals. The post fails to recognise that New York is handing out 15 million meals in May to all New Yorkers as COVID has resulted in job losses totalling almost 475 thousand. The meals include not only Halal meals for the Muslim community, but also Kosher meals for the cities large Jewish community. By leaving out both information and context the posts provide a misleading picture of special treatment.
Like the Anti-UN Page, the SIUSA page also shares content from the Geller Report. In this example the headline from the Geller Report alleges that New Yorks’ Mayor wants to shut down Synagogues and Churches because of the “Communist Chinese Virus”. The implication is that mosques are exempt, when this is not the case.
As can be seen from these examples the far right has shifted away from pushing their Islamophobic agenda and has instead focused on vilifying Muslims and spreading religious intolerance. The pages also sprinkle in a heavy dose of anti Chinese sentiment, keeping in line with the current trend of vilifying Chinese and Asians due to the origins of the Coronavirus.
The pages have not stopped vilifying Muslims, rather they are using the current situation to change the way they vilify Muslims. If a mayor is giving Muslims 500,000 meals out of 18 million free meals, it becomes a way to spread their hate by selective reporting which leads to the wrong conclusions and supports their incitement of anger and intolerance.
Researched and Written by Maleeha Saeed
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The Online Hate Prevention Institute is a Registered Charity that tackles all forms of online hate. You can support our work by making a donation at https://ohpi.org.au/donate/. You can also join us on Facebook, or join our mailing list.
This article is part of the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s special focus on Coronavirus: Racism, Hate Speech and Fake News. The article looks looks at pages peddling Islamophobia. OHPI’s work to stop online Anti-Muslim Hate can be found on our home page. In addition, OHPI has just completed its April campaign to tackle online Islamophobia.
The Online Hate Prevention Institutes has a series of campaigns throughout 2020 and we are currently running a fundraiser to expand our June campaign of Tackling Antisemitism. The full plan for our campaigns in 2020 can be seen here.