During its buildup, NBC’s Bob Costas stated that the Sochi Games will, “take place against a backdrop of questions about policy differences, security, cost overruns and human rights issues, including Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law”.
The firestorm against Sochi’s brazen homophobia leading up and during the Olympics was fierce, capped by President Barack Obama sending a US delegation led by openly gay athletes. The message, from news desks and the Oval Office, was clear – the US opposed the structural homophobia built into the Sochi Olympics.
No similar statements were made of the pervasive Islamophobia encircling the Games. Rather, the media and political rhetoric in the US toward Muslims and Islam are aligned with those of Russia, and linked inextricably to terrorism. American misalignment with Russia’s per se homophobia, and its converging interests with Moscow’s framing of Muslim threat, highlights the ever more relevant observation of Derrick Bell, who held that: “Domestic civil rights policies are only promoted when they advance majoritarian (white) interests abroad.”
The policing of Muslims stateside, and its nexus to the “global war on terrorism”, has – in large part – erased word of Sochi’s brazen Islamophobia from news headlines, and hushed the US government from calling into question the religious freedoms of Muslims in Russia.
Khaled A. Beydoun explains why Putin’s Islamophobic policies pervade the Winter Olympics at Sochi.