Raheem Kassam, the Managing Editor of the website “Breitbart London,” has been named “Islamophobe of the Year” after a public vote organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
Kassam made his name with the “Student Rights” organisation which has lobbied British universities to keep “extremist preachers” off campus. He has been described as a “neo-conservative” and is self-confessed admirer of Israel and Margaret Thatcher and a harsh critic of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and “Muslim extremists.”
Kassam beat off stiff competition from the right-wing commentator Douglas Murray and Home Secretary Theresa May to win the accolade.
In comments following his victory Kassam called the IHRC a “Khomeiniist” organisation and said he would celebrate his victory with “wine, scotch and women.”
The winner for “Overall Islamophobe of the Year” went to US president Barack Obama. The IHRC said: “Obama had been nominated by the public for just about everything – a charge that covers his continuation of drone strikes in the Muslim world as well as the failure to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention centre, and the introduction of the National Defense Authorisation Act that effectively ‘Guantanamises’ the whole USA.
“Obama came in streets ahead of a gallery of fellow rogues which included other prominent politicians including French President Francois Hollande – cited for his country’s invasion of Mali – and the British Home Secretary Theresa May for a host of sins including extraditing Asperger’s sufferer Talha Ahsan to the United States, stripping Muslims of their citizenship, and most recently thinking about applying anti-terror ASBO-style punishments for British Muslims who are merely suspected of so-called terrorist activities.”
First prize in the Europe and Central Asia category went to the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders. Wilders is the leader of the Netherlands’ Freedom Party, which continues to campaign on an anti-Muslim platform and propagate fears of an impending Islamic takeover of Europe.
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In the Americas the winner was Pamela Geller. Geller made a name for herself by her opposition to the planned construction of a mosque near the site of the Twin Towers destroyed in the Sept 11 attacks in the USA.
In Asia and Australasia, the top prize went to the unlikely figure of Burmese freedom and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. According to the IHRC the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner “was nominated for her continuing refusal to back citizenship calls by the country’s oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority.”
The clear winner in The Middle East and Africa was Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army general “who conducted a bloody campaign to remove and then ban the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood and put the Arab world’s most populous nation firmly back on the road to military rule.”
The IHRC says that although the Islamophobia Awards are intended to be a tongue-in-cheek poke at public figures of all stripes, they do carry a serious message. Islamophobia is on the rise all over the world, particularly in the West, and the event serves to focus attention on the problem.
Islamophobia can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level and perceiving their views to be intrinsically problematic, violent or unethical.