On June 29, 2019, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), NYU Washington, DC, Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC), and the Arab American Institute (AAI) hosted a program to explore the history and impact of structural Islamophobia. One year earlier, on June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries in a 5-to-4 decision. The court’s conservatives said that the president’s power to secure the country’s borders, delegated by Congress over decades of immigration lawmaking, was not undermined by his history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to the United States. Through a moderated panel discussion, experts discussed the law surrounding the Ban, links between societal and systematic Islamophobia, and frameworks to understand Islamophobia. The panel provided analysis alongside calls to action to challenge structural Islamophobia at its roots, resist systemic bigotry of all kinds, and amplify the voices of people currently impacted by the Ban today. Watch the program to learn more about the specific concerns related to anti-Muslim attitudes and policies, along with historical systems that have privileged certain races and religions over others in the United States.
A few key points from the program:
- Bias towards and discrimination against Muslims is often an indicator of bias towards and hate crimes against other minority groups, including Black, Jewish and LGBTQ communities. This is an issue that has larger implications that affect all of us.
- The people who are the most likely to harbor negative feelings towards Muslims have never met one. Take time to talk to your neighbors, classmates and coworkers. You may be surprised by what you have in common, rather than the differences that separate you.
- If you want to fight Islamophobia, get involved with your local community. Ask the local Muslim community what you can do to help.
- Forget about taboos and talk openly about religion, especially with Muslims.
- Develop media literacy! Call out news organizations for their discriminatory coverage and bias. According to research by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, more than 80 percent of television media coverage of Muslims and Islam in the U.S. is negative.
- Make an effort to learn more about what the ban means for individual lives in your community and beyond. The ban has forced Muslim families apart and forced American families to move to war-torn countries to avoid being isolated from their loved ones.
- The rate of reported hate crimes in the U.S. has grown in recent years: it rose 17 percent between 2016 and 2017, but a great number of hate crimes still go unreported. If someone you know has experienced a hate crime, support them and encourage them to report it. Leaders are unlikely to respond to a problem if they are unaware that it exists.
- Studies have shown a correlation between negative political rhetoric and media coverage toward minority groups and the spike in hate crimes in the last 3 years. What political leaders say matter, so contact your elected leaders about the language they use.
- Racism and white supremacy are difficult subjects to address but “it’s important for people to understand how deeply embedded white supremacy is in the U.S. and how it’s influencing others,” according to HuffPost.