US Muslims See Rise in Islamophobia

After a six-year hiatus, U.S. President Joe Biden last week resumed the 22-year-old tradition of hosting an Eid celebration at the White House.

“Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exists,” Biden told a group of prominent Muslims.

Biden’s comments marked a significant change of tone from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who said in 2016, “I think Islam hates us.”

Trump did not host a White House Eid celebration while president, though he did issue statements marking the annual Muslim festival and invited diplomats from Muslim-majority nations to the White House for iftar dinner during Ramadan in 2018 and 2019.

FILE - President Joe Biden, left, listens as Talib M. Shareef, President and Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington, speaks during a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2022.
FILE – President Joe Biden, left, listens as Talib M. Shareef, President and Imam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington, speaks during a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2022.

The shift in the White House’s tone comes at a time when U.S. Muslims fear Islamophobia is on the rise.

Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a 9% increase in the number of civil rights complaints it received from Muslims in the United States since 2020.

“CAIR received a total of 6,720 complaints nationwide involving a range of issues including immigration and travel, discrimination, law enforcement and government overreach, hate and bias incidents, incarceree rights, school incidents, and anti-BDS/free speech,” the report said. BDS refers to the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement that seeks to advance social change through economic pressure.

Huzaifa Shahbaz, an author of the report, told VOA the rise in complaints about Islamophobia coincided with the lifting of COVID-related restrictions and the reopening of workplaces, worship centers and restaurants.

Others echo CAIR’s findings and point to other reasons as well.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen racism in the United States rise across the board as a consequence of the pandemic, the intensification of white supremacist groups, political polarization, and even though we have Trump out of the office, this rising climate of racism is still feeding the Islamophobia that exists really heavily in the United States,” said Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at Wayne State University.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA

US Muslim advocates weigh in on abortion rights battle

By Dalia Hatuqa

Forty-nine years ago, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that changed the lives of American women, formally legalising the right to abortion across the United States.

Now, as Roe v Wade faces its most serious threat in decades, Muslim Americans, like many others across the US, have been contemplating what overturning that decision could mean for women’s reproductive rights and access to safe abortions.

Aliza Kazmi, co-executive director of HEART, a national organisation that focuses on sex education in the Muslim community, said reproductive access and choice – including safe abortion care – is already limited or non-existent for many in the US, namely people of colour and low-income people.

“We know that many Muslim women are already being pushed away given how health inequities impeding abortion access exist and persist including due to Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, homophobia, transphobia, heteropatriarchy, Christian supremacy, etc. within the provision of health services,” Kazmi told Al Jazeera in an email.

“Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, this narrowing would devastate a majority of people in this country,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Americans overestimate the size of minority groups and underestimate the size of most majority groups

Estimated proportions are calculated by averaging weighted responses (ranging from 0% to 100%, rounded to the nearest whole percentage) to the question “If you had to guess, what percentage of American adults…” True proportions were drawn from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and polls by YouGov and other polling firms.

A parallel pattern emerges when we look at estimates of majority groups: People tend to underestimate rather than overestimate their size relative to their actual share of the adult population. For instance, we find that people underestimate the proportion of American adults who are Christian (estimate: 58%, true: 70%) and the proportion who have at least a high school degree (estimate: 65%, true: 89%). 

The most accurate estimates involved groups whose real proportion fell right around 50%, including the percentage of American adults who are married (estimate: 55%, true: 51%) and have at least one child (estimate: 58%, true: 57%).

Misperceptions of the size of minority groups have been identified in prior surveys, which observers have often attributed to social causes: fear of out-groupslack of personal exposure, or portrayals in the media. Yet consistent with prior research, we find that the tendency to misestimate the size of demographic groups is actually one instance of a broader tendency to overestimate small proportions and underestimate large ones, regardless of the topic. 

If exaggerated perceptions of minority groups’ share of the American population are due to fear, we would expect estimates of those groups’ share that are made by the groups’ members to be more accurate than those made by others. We tested this theory on minority groups that were represented by at least 100 respondents within our sample and found that they were no better (and often worse) than non-group members at guessing the relative size of the minority group they belong to. 

Black Americans estimate that, on average, Black people make up 52% of the U.S. adult population; non-Black Americans estimate the proportion is roughly 39%, closer to the real figure of 12%. First-generation immigrants we surveyed estimate that first-generation immigrants account for 40% of U.S. adults, while non-immigrants guess it is around 31%, closer to the actual figure of 14%.

Although there is some question-by-question variability, the results from our survey show that inaccurate perceptions of group size are not limited to the types of socially charged group divisions typically explored in similar studies: race, religion, sexuality, education, and income. Americans are equally likely to misestimate the size of less widely discussed groups, such as adults who are left-handed. While respondents estimated that 34% of U.S. adults are left-handed, the real estimate lies closer to 10-12%. Similar misperceptions are found regarding the proportion of American adults who own a pet, have read a book in the past year, or reside in various cities or states. This suggests that errors in judgment are not due to the specific context surrounding a certain group.

FULL ARTICLE FROM YOUGOV

My journey in Islam and learning more about religion

Growing up, I distinctly remember that I rarely saw a face in my neighborhood that looked like mine. When Christmas came around every year, I would see beautiful trees adorned with unique ornaments from our neighbors’ windows. Large presents lined their floors, and iridescent lights glowed from within their living rooms. 

Our house was always the only one on the block without an ounce of decoration during the holiday season. As the neighborhood celebrated, my parents and I sat mindlessly throughout the day. Sometimes when I was young, we played a CD of nasheeds, songs performed according to Islamic tradition, to pass the time. I sat on the floor; despite not understanding anything, I sang along. 

Homogeneity characterized my childhood. Among a sea of white and Christian students, there were only a handful of other students that looked like me in my classes. I made my first Muslim friend when I was six. She was one of four other Muslims in that school, and the only one remotely close to my age. Back then, neither one of us really knew what it meant to be Muslim, but just knowing that we shared something was enough for me. Two years later, I moved to a different school, and I didn’t make another Muslim friend until I was 14.

My parents wanted me to assimilate more than anything else. As immigrants, their priority was making sure that I didn’t experience the ostracism they did when they first arrived in the U.S. When it came down to enrolling me in a Sunday school, they decided that playing sports or learning an instrument, activities that other kids around me pursued, were probably more valuable ways to use my time. 

Aside from a very occasional trip to the masjid, place of worship for Muslims, or being forced to pray with my grandmother or a family member, I had no concept of what it meant to be a Muslim. According to my family’s beliefs, I ate zabiha meat, slaughtered in accordance with Islamic guidelines, but didn’t completely know how to pray and read the Quran. I didn’t know much about Islamic history or various traditions either, and I successfully got away with being a Muslim who didn’t actually know anything about Islam.

My extended family was always religious. While they pushed my parents to enroll me in Sunday school from an early age like their own children, my parents assured them that if I wanted, I could enroll myself in Islamic school much later in life and faithfully adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE EMORY WHEEL

Their ‘Ask a Muslim’ project went viral. Now they have a travel show about Islam in the U.S.

Rapper-activist Mona Haydar and husband Sebastian Robins star in ‘The Great Muslim American Road Trip’ for PBS

Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins felt they had a deep understanding of Islam. But filming “The Great Muslim American Road Trip,” a docuseries that will air on PBS this summer, made the married couple realize how much more they had to learn.

Haydar, a Syrian American rapper and activist whose music videos boast millions of views on YouTube, grew up Muslim. Robins, a writer and educator, converted to Islam after they met. The show follows the couple as they traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles via historic Route 66 in September. Along the way, they learned about Islam’s roots in America, explored nearby Muslim communities and took in the sights. In Chicago, they met with Muhammad Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali and toured the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to learn about structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, known for his work on the innovative tubular design for high-rises. On more than a dozen stops, Haydar and Robins visited with restaurateurs, doctors and authors.

“This is a deep passion of ours; it’s our faith and our practice,” Haydar said. “And it really felt like this epic quest of learning and finding the clues and piecing them together.”

Advertisement

The couple garnered widespread attention for their “Ask a Muslim” project, following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015. Outside a Cambridge Mass., library, they set up signs that invited passersby to “talk to a Muslim” and ask them questions over free doughnuts and coffee. Haydar’s song “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)” was also named one of 2017’s best protest songs by Billboard.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

The Hypocrisy of American Islamophobia

This country’s security agencies continue their laser focus on monitoring Muslim Americans, even as they grossly underestimate the threat from white supremacists.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson excused one of the leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers organization implicated in the January 6 insurrection by describing him as “a devout Christian.” It’s safe to surmise that he wouldn’t have offered a similar defense for a Muslim American. Since September 11, and even before that ominous date, they have suffered bitterly from discrimination and hate crimes in this country, while their religion has been demonized. During the first year of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim Americans polled said that they had personally experienced some type of discrimination.

No matter that this group resides comfortably in the American mainstream, it remains under intensive, often unconstitutional, surveillance. In contrast, during the past two decades, the Department of Justice for the most part gave a pass to violent white supremacists. No matter that they generated more terrorist attacks on US soil than any other group. The benign insouciance of the white American elite toward such dangerous fanatics also allowed them to organize freely for the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the potential violent overthrow of the government.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATION

Muslims face a suicide crisis in America. The taboo of talking about it must end.

Muslim communities seem finally to be waking up to the reality of mental illness and the acute need to address it

If you or someone you know is having serious thoughts of suicide, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Sana was gripped with fear. Her mind raced as she debated whether Allah would forgive her for being so ungrateful. She became certain that her newborn and toddler would be better off without her, a mother who couldn’t bond with her children.

The thoughts surprised her. Sana considered herself religious and was aware that suicide is forbidden in Islam. But it seemed like the only solution.

Her characteristically joyful personality had given way to uncontrollable feelings of guilt, despair and hypocrisy. Here she was, a lawyer and teacher of the Islamic sciences, considering suicide.
Opinions in your inbox: Get a digest of our takes on current events every day

Seeking help from friends was futile, as they told her what she already felt – she was suffering from weak iman (faith). They encouraged her to read more of the Quran and pray to restore her faith and gratitude.
On the day Sana had planned to die by suicide, a concerned friend called to check in. She had just completed a suicide response training developed by the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology (MMHIP) Lab and offered by Maristan, a community partner with the lab.
Several recent tragedies were the catalyst for Maristan to launch its 500 Imam Campaign with a goal to train at least 500 Muslim leaders across the country in 2022 in suicide prevention, intervention and post intervention. Maristan’s five-year goal is to train leaders in all 3,000 mosques across the U.S.
Sana’s friend recognized red flags that she had learned about, explained to Sana that her symptoms were the result of postpartum depression, and insisted that she take her to an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.

Learning about her symptoms and that they were unrelated to her level of education or religiosity helped to comfort Sana and ultimately saved her life.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY

US Muslims call for action as ‘spying’ incidents shake community

Council on American-Islamic Relations says it uncovered a ‘mole’ within its organisation and a ‘spy’ at a US mosque.

Washington, DC – First, the major Muslim-American advocacy group reported that a “mole” had infiltrated the leadership of one of its state branches. Then, only days later, the organisation said a “spy” at a US mosque had passed information on to an “anti-Muslim” group.

The two incidents, revealed earlier this month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have shaken Muslim advocates in the United States and renewed longstanding concerns about spying on the community.

KEEP READING

list of 3 items

Muslim staff in US Congress call for action against Islamophobia

‘Under the prism’: Muslim Americans reflect on life post-9/11

How Muslim Americans pushed for political prominence post-9/11

“Community members were shocked and saddened to learn about this specific situation, but a lot of people were also not surprised that an anti-Muslim hate group was targeting CAIR and spying this way,” said Whitney Siddiqi, community affairs director at CAIR-Ohio.

The CAIR chapter said on December 15 that it had sacked Romin Iqbal, its executive and legal director in the Columbus-Cincinnati area, for “egregious ethical and professional violations”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Michigan city gets ready to inaugurate all-Muslim government

Hamtramck, Michigan (CNN)For decades, Hamtramck was known as Michigan’s “Little Warsaw,” a city of just two square miles of tightly-packed houses and factories, spitting distance from downtown Detroit.
The Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla visited once, back in 1969, before he became Pope. A statue of Wojtyla, arms outstretched, still casts a shadow over what’s now called Pope Park, where a huge mural of Polish folk dancers stretches almost an entire city block.
In the 99 years since its incorporation, every mayor of Hamtramck has been Polish American. That ends January 2, in Hamtramck’s centenary year, when Amer Ghalib will be inaugurated, along with an entirely Muslim city council.

Hamtramck will become the first known city in the US with a government made up entirely of Muslims, according to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which says it has no record of any other such administration.
Hamtramck Mayor-elect Amer Ghalib will be the first non-Polish American leader in the city's history.
Hamtramck Mayor-elect Amer Ghalib will be the first non-Polish American leader in the city’s history.
Mayor-elect Ghalib was born in Yemen and came to the United States alone as a young man, with a smattering of broken English and little else. He’s now 42, works in the medical field and is studying to become a doctor.

Hamtramck’s heyday had apparently passed. The city was decaying. Many factories had closed. Many second and third-generation Polish Americans had moved to the Detroit suburbs and beyond in the past two decades. Immigrants, largely from Yemen and Bangladesh, took their place and Hamtramck, locals say, is now majority Muslim.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN

The Troubling Consequences of Seeing Muslims as a Racial Group

The founding director of the interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights, Aziz draws on her expertise in national security and civil rights to explore the history and current manifestations of Islamophobia in the U.S. She writes about the mechanisms targeting Muslim Americans, from surveillance to government watch lists to immigration restrictions, that have ramped up since 9/11. Her book also steps back to compare the plight of Muslims to other religious groups that have historically faced discrimination in America, such as Catholics, Mormons and Jews. The lawyer, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt when she was a child, was inspired by her own experiences to pursue a career confronting civil rights issues in the U.S. “I was indoctrinated by American schools into believing that America was special and these kinds of extreme civil rights violations didn’t happen here,” she says. “But when 9/11 happened, my entire community faced an existential crisis. We had our own human rights and civil rights problems here where we lived.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE