According to a 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Islam–the lowest favorability rating since 2001. Relentless Islamophobic fear-mongering by a select group of U.S. political pundits, bloggers and think tanks is at least partially responsible for Americans’ negative view of the religion and those who practice it. Their alarmist commentary has far-reaching consequences–Anders Breivik, the Christian Norwegian who went on a bloody killing spree in July to prevent the “ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe” has cited at length claims by some of these groups and individuals as supporting evidence for his hateful, violent theories.

A new, must-read report by the Center for American Progress titled “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of Islamophobia in America,” exposes the Islam-bashing network in America which has considerable reach in the U.S. news media and has an audience among some well-known politicians such as Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

The report includes detailed information about the more than $42 million that has flowed from seven key foundations to the network over 10 years, as well as the key “misinformation experts” who generate the false facts and materials which are then regurgitated by the media and certain politicians and grass-root groups.

Islamophobic misinformation is not only harmful for Muslims inside the U.S. and abroad who continue to be persecuted and isolated for crimes committed in the name of Islam even as the vast majority of Muslims denounce them. If accepted unchallenged, these claims can also lead to misguided and harmful U.S. domestic and foreign policy decisions which can further exacerbate national security threats.

Click here to read the report in full. Jim’s IPS article on the report can be found here.