Trust is a basic element for human beings to live together amicably in a multicultural society. It is unsurprising then that propaganda that has driven societies towards genocide often focuses on depicting a minority group as inherently dishonest and dangerous. For instance, preceding the Rwandan genocide, the Hutus were told by political figures that the Tutsi were a people full of hatred, dangerous, and dishonest. Nazi propaganda prior to the Holocaust focused on repeating old stereotypes of Jews as dishonest and untrustworthy in their dealings.
As Dr. Wibke Timmermann astutely observes:
Hate speech regularly, if not inevitably, precedes and accompanies ethnic conflicts, and particularly genocidal violence. Without such incitement to hatred and the exacerbation of xenophobic, anti-Semitic, or racist tendencies, no genocide would be possible and persecutory campaigns would rarely meet with a sympathetic response in the general public.
The contemporary Islamophobia industry has deployed the exact same stereotypes in its characterization of the Islamic faith community and 1.6 billion Muslims. To this end, words like “Shariah” and “Jihad” have been exploited by Islamophobes who affirm the perverted meanings assigned to these terms by terrorists. Meanwhile, mainstream Muslims believe that Jihad refers to a struggle undertaken for the sake of God to protect the lives and rights of others, and that Shariah refers to a divinely ordained system that enjoins treating all human beings in the best manner. Islamophobes, when faced with this discrepancy between what they want the words to mean and what mainstream Muslims believe they actually mean, resort to a profoundly unsophisticated tactic – they simply declare all Muslims to be compulsive liars.
Of course, that alone would be too obviously a fallacious maneuver, so in order to cloak this move with some degree of credibility, Islamophobes claim that there is a doctrine in Islam that teaches Muslims that they must lie to non-Muslims. This doctrine is called taqiyya. The presence of an Arabic word is guaranteed to dupe people and send chills down the spines of well-meaning but woefully misinformed patriotic Americans wary of those turban-wearing bearded foreigners, right? What could possibly go wrong?