Islamophobia: An American Perspective

 

What it is: (n.) Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force. (See longer definition here).

How it’s Perpetuated:

Since Sept. 11, hate crime incidents against Muslims have averaged around 100-150 per year, a drastic increase from the 20-30 per year prior to the attacks. The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding recently released a study, which found that “more than half of Muslims report facing some level of discrimination in the past year because of their religion, with 18 percent reporting regular discrimination, the highest of any group.”

The report highlights the intense biases Muslim Americans face on a day to day basis, including how 80 percent of news coverage about Islam and Muslims in the United States is negative, with armed militants, not religious leaders, representing the faith. With the recent attacks in Europe and Santa Barbara, as well as escalated election hype, Muslims have been a topic of debate but seldom participants in the discourse, (ISPU).

With this curated public image, 3.3 million Muslim Americans live under continual pressure to “prove” their American loyalties, while simultaneously representing a culturally diverse demographic. Including children like Ahmed Mohammad who was arrested late last year for building a clock.

While the explicit institutional biases may raise headlines, anti-Muslim sentiment also shows itself in daily microaggressions, for example, when a Muslim student or employee is called a terrorist, or when people question whether a Muslim is “really” an American. These incidents may not make the news cycle, but they leave a lasting impression on Muslim-Americans.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 4.53.59 PM

Look at the Data

The ISPU report found that Muslim Americans are as “American as apple pie,” and dispelled popular myths, such as “Islam is Synonymous with Terrorism”, and “Muslims institute Sharia, or Islamic law, here in the States.”

The study not only found that there is no correlation between mosque attendance and support of violence, it found that frequent mosque attendance is actually correlated with higher levels of civic engagement. Muslims who regularly attend a mosque are more likely to work with their neighbors to solve community problems, be registered to vote, and to plan to vote.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 4.53.52 PM.pngThe report also found that an overwhelming majority of American Muslims do not think Islam should be the main source of US law (82 percent). 55 percent believe that their religion should not be a source of American law at all. Meanwhile, it turns out that more Protestants (12 percent) actually believe their own religion should be the main source of American law than do Muslims (10 percent).

To learn more about the numbers you can get the full report here. The poll compares Muslims to American Jews, Protestants, and Catholics with respect to their levels of religiosity, patriotism, activism, and general outlook on the state of the country and on their lives.  

Next Steps

Prep yourself to dispel any Islamophobic myths. Check out Faithlynn’s post on How to Be An Ally, and for further reading on Islam, (and its’ complicated relationship with America), and see the below resources.

 

12625869_10156397730950277_347605534_nScarlett O’Sullivan (none or she/her/herself) is another UConn Alum with a dual degree in Political Science and Communications. At UConn, Scarlett worked with Austin and Geena to pilot “Residence Assistants for Social Justice Education,” a program designed to facilitate action through dialogue, and bring campus-wide change to the socio-cultural issues specific to the UConn community. Scarlett currently works as a Senior Marketing Associate for a tech agency in Boston, MA. Connect with her here: LinkedinTwitter.

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