Steve Bannon's eerie obsession with the Muslim world

Steve Bannon's eerie obsession with the Muslim world
The New Arab has put together some of the major statements made on Islam by the now ex-chief strategist of the White House, Steve Bannon.
4 min read
19 August, 2017
Bannon has been long known for his espousal of far-right nationalist views [AFP]
The sacking of US President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday caused yet another political earth-quake in already tumultuous Washington.

Long known for his espousal of far-right nationalist views, it was Bannon's reported vehement hostility to immigrants from the Middle East, and Islam more broadly, that caused most consternation among Arabs and Muslims - both in the US and elsewhere.

Bannon was widely cited as the chief architect of the "Muslim Ban" early in the Trump administration, and long known for arguing the US and Europe is in a civilisational conflict with the Muslim world.

While "Bannonism" remains a potent force in US politics, The New Arab has put together some of the major statements made by the now ex-chief strategist of the White House on Islam.

"Islamic States of America" film

Staying true to his image as a "behind the scenes" ideologue who avoided direct contact with the media (despite his final interview being a probable cause of his removal), many of Bannon’s remarks on Islam only emerged because of press investigations or secondary reporting.

In February, The Washington Post provided perhaps the most startling insight into Bannon's mindset when it obtained a document purporting to be a film outline conceived by Bannon himself in 2007 during his short career as a film maker.

Entitled "Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism […] in America," Bannon proposed to make a three-part movie to convey the threat posed to the US by "radical Muslims" in their mission to take over the country and transform it into "The Islamic States of America".

The first scene of the film, which was not produced for unknown reasons, began with Muslim call to prayer interspersed over an "iconic image of the US Capitol on a pristine spring day", which then focused on a version of an American flag that "instead of the stars and stripes" had "the crescent and the star!"

"Islam is a religion of submission"

Bannon's obsession with an imagined Muslim takeover of the US emerged again three-years later in a 2010 radio segment on an online right-wing station, as reported by CNN.

In the interview, Bannon railed against the political correctness of those saying "Islam is a religion of peace", stating that it is instead a religion "of submission".

"A global war against Islamic fascism"

Bannon's fixation on a "Muslim threat" continued in 2014, as according to a Buzzfeed article published in November last year, which released a complete transcript of his "global nationalist vision" to a conference held inside the Vatican in the summer of 2014.

Bannon spoke of the crisis of the "Judeo-Christian West", of a new Dark Age ushered in by the two world-wars and the many decades of peace created by western capitalist middle-class but which was now in crisis and "in the beginning of a global war against Islamic fascism".

The video of Bannon's address was uploaded online.

"Violence as a cleansing effect"

In February 2017, the Danish journalist Fleming Rose - himself a subject of controversy for his role in the publication of the infamous Muhammad cartoons by the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten - wrote for The Huffington Post about a conversation with Bannon.

Rose described a fervent and angry Bannon who believed that "violence and war can have a cleansing effect" and that "Muslim immigrants [to Europe] had eroded traditional Christian values as the founding pillar of our civilisation".

Rose said "Bannon is of the belief that, if Europe is to be saved [from Islam], there is no way to avoid armed conflict."

The removal of one of the American far-right's most influential anti-Muslim ideologues will be a small but potent balm for those seeking the end of "Bannonist" agenda in the White House.

On a lighter side, it seems Bannon's reign was not without its own enlightening experiences.

As part of the team that accompanied US President Trump to Saudi Arabia, social media reported with much mirth Bannon's seemingly petrified look when up-close to a world he had done much to deride.