The following paper is devoted to the issue of Islamist terrorism and extremist practices in the US. The key problems of the research are the ways in which Islamists are protected by the US legislation and society, where the threat comes from, and what the consequences might be. The research is relevant since a significant amount of current data was analyzed to identify the means of protection and the sources of the menace. Emphasizing the necessity to distinguish between the Islam-practicing population and Islamists, the paper discloses how home-grown terrorists and, more importantly, Islamist immigrants are treated as per civil-rights-based policies. The stages of threat imposture and the abuse of these policies are analyzed, supported by recent statistics. The current situation of immigrants and refugees is also analyzed in terms of its current condition and implications. In conclusion, the threat is considered to be minor due to the lack of organization.
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The post-9/11 American community is only too well aware of its vulnerability to the menace of terrorism, which, in this particular case, was the responsibility of Islamists. The mayhem brought out the gaps in the national security system and blatantly exposed the need for change, which has been made indeed. Albeit the invaded privacy and habeas corpus challenges, terrorism – particularly Islamist terrorism – has been seemingly successfully prosecuted. Paradoxically, the prosecution of Islamist terrorism appears to be complexified by none other than the Bill of Rights. On the one hand, there is a significant amount of Islam-exercising persons born and settled within the US territory. On the other hand, the current situation creates a yet unprecedented flow of immigration to the US and Western Europe (Besheer, 2016). With the Bill of Rights applying to every individual, it appears that the tangibility of the threat Islam imposes is somewhat underestimated. Although Muslim-American population has spent much effort proclaiming peacefulness in the blogosphere, the following paper is aimed at analyzing how, under the US Constitution, people imposing threat are protected by the law of the very principles that they are trying to destroy.
The subsequent years after the 9/11 attack have raised the issue of the so-called home-grown terrorism, seriously jeopardizing Americans of Muslim background. The specificity of the issue discussed calls for a disclaimer first. The notions of Muslim and Islamist tend to be interchangeable in popular writing, resulting in overall confusion. Whereas Islam is defined as a set of beliefs, Islamism is an extremity, a stance of almost purely ideological nature (Bowering, 2015). This basic difference signifies the diversity of Muslim American and immigrant Muslim population, some of which imposes a potential threat that is Islamism. The latter does not conform to the piety that Muslim faith proclaims. Rather, Islamism is a religion-infused political ideology the goal of which is to expand and submit (Trifkovic, 2006). However, as preceded in Reynolds v. United States in 1878, freedom of religion is universal on the territory of the US, although some extreme manifestations of it are restricted (Reynolds v. United States, n.d.). Considering all said above, the US largely remains immune to inner threat of “home-grown” Islamism partially due to the restrictions. The major implication of it is that as long as Muslim population does not become Islamist, the situation remains stable. It is true that, in the relatively recent past, there was no evidence of Islamists plotting a massive home-grown attack within the borders of the US (Brooks, 2011). However, considering the root meaning of the concept, it is perfectly capable of imposing terror – which only increases when circumstances such as judicial protection, demographic shift, and common statistics are taken into account.
One of the crucial aspects of consideration here is the US law permitting citizenship status to any person born within the country (Hollifield, Martin, & Orrenius, 2014). At that, the newborn’s parents’ origin or status is of little significance. Still, more importantly, more than a century ago, it was established that immigrants – even the illegal ones – do fall within the US jurisdiction and have constitutional rights in addition to human rights that all individuals share (Wong Wing v. United States, n.d.). The subsequent amendments and movements of sorts declared the immigration’s right to accommodation, medical services, privacy, etc. It is also worth considering that instantaneous deportation would be a violation of their civil rights. Also, after an Arizona court case created a precedent, it was stated that letting state and local courts decide on the issue of immigration, either legitimate or not, can be largely driven by nationalist sentiment (Johnson, 2012). Indeed, American society is able to provide immigrants with everything they need, meet them with humanitarian tolerance and adjust common practices so as not to discriminate or otherwise offend the vulnerable. We can only deem it possible that the changes in American demographics are predetermined by such a friendly welcome.
A recent research facilitated largely by a growing social concern about the possible “Islamization” of the United states revealed that more than one out of ten persons immigrating into the country practices Hinduism or Islam (America’s Changing Religious Landscape, 2015). Although there is still a significant amount of Christian and other non-Islam population among the Americans, the figures appear disturbing. More recent research has estimated that, in 2015, the overall amount of Islam-practicing persons settled in the US was approximately 3.3 million, not accounting for illegal immigration. It was also predicted that in less than 40 years, the total 1% of Muslims living in the US will double (Besheer, 2016). Considering the current flow of refugees and victims of war, the governments of the EU and UN are mostly preoccupied with assimilating immigration. Indeed, the regulatory practices deployed with respect to international migration is the task of the federations. Policies developed concerning the refugees make it permissible for them to stay and settle. It is also worth noting that such policies are mainly based on civil rights since, should these rights be violated, it would cast doubt upon the legitimate power of the states. In other words, states practicing anti-immigration policies are likely to end up with strongly pro-immigration populations, as was in the cases of France and the Netherlands (Hollifield et al., 2014). Humanitarian concerns aside, overall social anxiety persists, and it might be the case that such anxiety is perfectly justifiable.
The word jihād translated literally means “struggle” or “perseverance,” while the very term “Islam” as a noun has a primary meaning of submission (Bowering, 2015). It can be stated that Islamists have taken the concepts literally, their ultimate aim being to aggrandize their power and control rather than convert the infidels. In this respect, Trifkovic (2006) identified several stages of what might be dubbed an Islamic contest for power, including migration, consolidation of power, and open violence with subsequent overthrow of secular authorities and establishment of theocracy. Within the first stage, Islamists enter the host country, indistinguishable from peaceful Islam-practicing persons. As they increase in number, “islamophobia” is gradually regarded as a hate crime; pleas to court are made to eradicate discrimination, and minor cultural conflicts occur (Trifkovic, 2006). Considering the immigrant policies, such actions pass almost unnoticed. The second step includes formation of political bases in host societies. Also, criticism is rejected and suppressed; “blasphemy” is demanded to be restricted, with conflicts untangling in opposition to Christianity and Judaism, as well as other religions. “Lone wolf” attacks and small groupings can be attempted at this stage as well. The next one is open violence, with other religions oppressed and people harassed. Gender equality and rights are nonexistent, and non-Muslim population is mainly assassinated and the laws of Sharia are predominant (Trifkovic, 2006).
With these stages in mind, it is worth considering the following facts and figures. Firstly, the Muslim immigration in the US is protected by the legislation as stated above. While the anti-Muslim inclinations are present among the Americans, the policies restrict the potential Islamists (as opposed to peaceful Muslims) only to the extent of extremities, banning discriminatory practices and islamophobia. Secondly, American Islamic societies are already established. Moreover, they are currently advocating for foreign law to be prevalent over state legislation and gathering their adherents (Mauro, 2014). In addition, a research conducted using Twitter as an information source established general negative attitude among Muslims towards the US and American politics as a result of interference in the Syrian conflict and such (Jamal, Keohane, Romney, & Tingley, 2015). Some of the twits can be regarded as extremist, positioning the US as a subjugating power. Finally, statistics shows that in recent years the percentage of Islamist attacks among all terrorist actions committed in the US has significantly increased, with the latest “lone wolf” Islamist machete attack occurring in February 2016 (Johnston, 2016). Such cases can be regarded as minor, considering that the attacks are rather poorly organized. On the other hand, the recent data that was gathered within the framework of this research sums up into a rather disturbing picture. Both Islamist and peaceful Muslim immigrants are provided with rights and freedoms as US citizens, but as the latter do not appear to cause trouble, the former abuse the principles of the host society. Importantly, it does not appear possible to distinguish Islamists from moderate Muslims from the first sight. Which means that while the legislation virtually provides Islamists with carte blanche to enter into the second to third stage of their contest, the moderate Muslims as well as non-Muslim Americans are in serious jeopardy.
To conclude, the ultimate aim of this paper was neither amplifying the social paranoia nor proclaiming islamophobia. Rather, it was to analyze the ways in which the US legislation and social policies protect persons whose intentions are far from peaceful. The so-called home-grown terrorism can prove a threat just as well as the terror injected by immigration, despite the fact that the extremist powers seem to be disorganized, as yet. Considering the policies that seem to be designed to appease potential aggressors and the resulting demographic and religious shifts, it appears that the post-9/11 society still has much to learn.
Besheer, M. (2016). A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population. Web.
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Hollifield, J., Martin, P., & Orrenius, P. (2014). Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Jamal, A. A., Keohane, R. O., Romney, D., & Tingley, D. (2015). Anti-Americanism in Arabic Twitter discourses is driven by perceptions of U.S. impingement in the region.
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