The Roots of American Islamophobia

Khomeini and the hostage crisis provided the United States with a new face and faith to fear.

Three decades before the “War on Terror” and its orientation of “Islamic terrorism” as the principal threat to American security, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was its standing talisman. The color and contours of his very being – from his black turban to the long silver beard, represented the sum of all Muslims for Americans. The nation he remade into an Islamic theocracy, birthed by the very popular protests that menace it today, conflated popular understandings of “Muslim” with developing stereotypes of “terrorism.”

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