Muslims, atheists more likely to face religious discrimination in US

Muslims and atheists in the United States are more likely than those of Christian faiths to experience religious discrimination, according to new research led by the University of Washington.

In the study, which focused on public schools because they are government-run, community-facing institutions, the researchers tested responses to an individual’s expression of religious belief. In addition to finding greater bias against religious minorities, the researchers also saw that ardent expressions of faith, regardless of religious tradition, were more prone to discrimination.

“The U.S. is becoming a much more culturally diverse society than in the past, and the rate of change is happening very swiftly. So we wanted to ask: How are our public institutions keeping up? Can they provide equal accommodations and protection under the law?” said Steve Pfaff, a University of Washington professor of sociology and lead author of the study, which published Aug. 30 in Public Administration Review.

Religious bias may be a very serious problem, but it has been studied less than other types of discrimination, such as race- or gender-based discrimination, Pfaff added.

“Schools bear this enormous responsibility and perform this important service, and one thing that’s changing quickly, among the population, is religion. So how are schools handling all that change?” he said.

Pfaff points to national statistics that reflect the change: The percentage of Americans who identify as “unchurched” has increased from 16% to 23% in the past decade; the percentage of Americans who identify as Muslim, while small, is expected to double to 2%, by 2050.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON NEWS SITE

I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?

By Laila Lalami

“Go back home!” the note said.

As it happened, I was already home, curled up on the sofa and scrolling through notifications on my mobile phone. Earlier that day, I tweeted a snapshot of a handwritten index card someone handed me at a lecture I gave in upstate New York in 2016, asking me what advice I would give to young Muslim Americans who did not feel safe in their communities after that year’s election. I wasn’t sure I had much advice for how to handle that feeling, because at times I struggled with it myself. Perhaps, I thought, others on social media might have something useful to contribute. Instead, a stranger gave that short, blunt reply: “Go where you feel safe. Go back home!”

The sentiment wasn’t new to me. I’d heard it before, and not just from online trolls who believed they had the supreme right to decide who belongs in the United States. Last year, I recoiled in alarm when I watched footage of a protester in the crowd outside a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, yelling at Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to go back to her country. Tlaib was part of a congressional delegation visiting the detention facility to learn more about the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers under the Trump administration’s family-separation policy. When the representative came out to speak with reporters, someone shouted at her, “We don’t want Muslims here!” That same xenophobic impulse finds its voice each time the president fires another salvo in his ongoing conflict with Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. In the last few months, he has called her “a horrible woman who hates our country” and a “hate-filled, America-bashing socialist.”

Moments like these serve as a reminder to Muslims that our belonging in the United States is not secure but conditional: At the slightest sign of political disagreement, some Americans are eager to deny or revoke our citizenship. Whether we are immigrants, refugees or natural-born citizens, ordinary constituents or members of Congress, we continue to be seen as unwanted latecomers in a “Judeo-Christian nation.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

‘At the Intersection of Two Criminalized Identities’: Black and Non-Black Muslims Confront a Complicated Relationship With Policing and Anti-Blackness

Before Jacob Blake’s father spoke to media last month about how police gunned down his son in Kenosha, Wis., he took a moment to say a Muslim prayer.

“Our family is very diverse and we don’t represent just one thing, so if you all could give me one second please, this is for my son—Jacob Blake,” Jacob Blake Sr. said shortly before reciting a verse from the beginning of the Qur’an and proceeding to talk about how police shot his son “seven times, seven times, like he didn’t even matter.”

Blake Sr.’s recitation of the prayer moved Iesa Lewis, a Black Muslim graduate student at the University of Chicago and part-time community organizer, evoking for him “just how deeply embedded Islam is within the Black community.” But the moment also encapsulated the complicated relationship that the Black Muslim community has with non-Black Muslims. Lewis says that while many non-Black Muslims would likely embrace Blake Sr.’s decision to recite the Qur’an, many would also continue to perpetuate anti-Blackness in their own lives and communitieseverything from non-Black Muslims not returning greetings, to assuming ignorance about Islam, to not considering Black Muslims worthy of marrying their non-Black children.

The Black Lives Matter Movement is forcing the Muslim community to reckon with its own anti-Blackness and scrutinize its already tense relationship with law enforcement. The police shooting of Blake, as well as the murder of George Floyd—whom Minneapolis police killed after staff at a non-Black Muslim owned store called 911 over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill—has sparked introspection within the non-Black Muslim community about how they may contribute to overpolicing despite also being profiled by law enforcement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE

To beat Trump, the ‘good Muslim, bad Muslim’ messaging has to end

(RNS) — I spoke this week at the 2020 Democratic National Convention’s Interfaith Council meeting. As refreshing as it was to hear voices encouraging change from the last four years, it felt like some things were still being missed.

Although Muslims were present at the DNC, it definitely seemed like we were being kept on the sidelines.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is unsurprisingly commonplace among Republican politicians in the United States. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promises of a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims were not a starting point, but just one of many Islamophobic public statements made by a Republican candidate for president that year. 

These days, it would be hard to find a Republican politician who hasn’t said something xenophobic about Muslims, and although the acknowledgment is not where it could be, there is still some acknowledgment of Republican Islamophobia nonetheless.

Yet, for some reason, the role Democrats play in deepening Islamophobia is hardly ever acknowledged or discussed. 

This week, Joe Biden tweeted a note of thanks to Ady Barkan, an Israeli American lawyer and progressive activist who spoke on the main stage of the DNC’s second night of programs: “Thank you, @AdyBarkan for your courage and for all that you do to ensure a more just, more equal America. #DemConvention.”

The day after, Barkan demonstrated this ethic in a tweet that supported Linda Sarsour in response to the Biden campaign’s disavowal of her.


RELATED: Joe Biden’s acceptance speech caps off an unusually faith-filled Democratic National Convention


Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim woman well-known for her social justice work on behalf of marginalized communities of all backgrounds. She spoke at the DNC as well and, to no one’s surprise, her presence was immediately controversial.

She’s Palestinian.

She’s Muslim.

She speaks out against anti-Blackness, mistreatment of women and so much more.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

Muslims in America experience over-policing too

While the nation engages in a long overdue discussion about policing and minorities, catalyzed by yet another innocent Black person ­­— George Floyd — killed by law enforcement, we need to remember another group that has suffered overly zealous policing: Muslims.

Many of the worst dynamics at play now, including the militarization of police, were heightened in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and have made blameless Muslims prime suspects. While we engage in critical changes to the policing of Black Americans, we must work to ensure that Muslim Americans also benefit.Ads by TeadsADVERTISING

The use of law enforcement to subjugate, marginalize and persecute Black Americans is centuries old. In the 20th century, this occasionally intersected with Islamophobia, as when J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation surveilled the Nation of Islam in concert with local police departments. But antagonistic policing of Muslims — Black and non-Black alike — has broadened significantly with the war on terror, which redoubled the militarization of police departments.

The rearmament of the police through federal programs such as the 1033 Program, which has allowed police departments to receive military hardware, emerged initially in the 1990s from the war on drugs. After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security prominently expanded this program by offering grants to state and local law enforcement agencies, distributing equipment worth $7.4 billion among 8,000 agencies.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE COURANT

July 4th Needs To Include Muslim Identities

With July 4th, Americans all around the country can feel a sense of celebration; however, when you are Muslim and American, there are fewer options to couch both the religious and cultural identity together. For Reem Sayes, her solution has been to create Days of Eid.  She wanted to create a company where the products represent a celebration of who Muslims are regardless of the occasion. Fortunately, Days of Eid has the primary goal “to help embolden the Muslim identity of our children and help them embrace their uniqueness,” Reem explains.  

Using a business model that is direct-to-consumer through their website, Reem designs and creates home and holiday decor products in-house that celebrate and reflect Islamic traditions. 

“We believe that your home should tell your story, who you are, what you love, what your beliefs and values consist of. When people walk in your home they should get a sense of those things. And for me and many other American Muslims that was hard to do and that compelled us to start Days of Eid,” Reem adds. 

When thinking about her childhood, Reem recalls how it was often a struggle to find herself in a sea of negativity and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. She wanted to fill the void of mothers and their children questioning their religious identities and wanted to find a solution as she understood the issues of feeling pride in one’s identity. For quite some time, Reem thought about her own children’s struggle with who they are; consequently, she made it her mission to highlight Muslim Americans through Days of Eid.  

FULL ARTICLE FROM FORBES

After George Floyd, raw talk and racial reckoning among U.S. Muslims

American Muslims, Black and non-Black, are having raw conversations as they grapple with questions of racial equity, tensions and representation in their own faith communities.

Hind Makki, poses for a portrait at the The Prayer Center of Orland Park in Orland Park, Ill., on June 22, 2020.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

By Associated Press

As a young student, Hind Makki recalls, she would call out others at the Islamic school she attended when some casually used an Arabic word meaning “slaves” to refer to Black people.

“Maybe 85% of the time, the response that I would get from people … is, ‘Oh, we don’t mean you, we mean the Americans,’” Makki said during a virtual panel discussion on race, one of many organized in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“That’s a whole other situation about anti-Blackness, particularly against African Americans,” said Makki, who identifies as a Black Arab Muslim.

In recent weeks, many Muslims in the U.S. have joined racial justice rallies across the country and denounced racism in sermons, statements and webinars. American Muslims, Black and non-Black, are also having raw conversations like Makki’s as they grapple with questions of racial equity, tensions and representation in their own faith communities.

“Everyone is talking about this, like from the uncle who’s been here since the early ’70s, was a retired doctor somewhere, a retired board member of a mosque to … a high school student in the suburbs,” Makki, an anti-racism and interfaith educator, said in an interview. “The question needs to be pushed further than what words, what slurs you’re using, which you shouldn’t be using. How can we reach equity … in the spaces that we actually can change?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC NEWS

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.

by Saba Aziz

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.

More:

The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.

US college pluralism story

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen] 

“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

‘We gotta call out racism’: Milwaukee Muslim students lead march against police violence

Last spring, Milwaukee teenagers Dana Sharqawi and Sumaya Abdi organized protests after mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand. 

On Wednesday, they brought people together again at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee — this time to remember George Floyd and to protest police violence. They said they were guided by their Muslim faith. 

“Our religion tells us that if one part of your body’s in pain, then the whole body’s in pain,” said Abdi, now 19 and a student at UW-Madison. “So if our black brothers and sisters are in pain, we’re in pain, too.”

They drew over 300 supporters young and old, including several who said it was their first experience at a protest.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

George Floyd Is Our Fight, Too: A Muslim Perspective

This is not an African American problem. This is an affront to what we believe as Muslims.

Boston – The egregiousness of what happened to George Floyd must have plunged anyone with a pulse into a deep pensive mood. Those of us who lived in the Boston area for a long time should have an idea about the many challenges that plagued getting the biggest mosque in New England off the ground.

The exorbitant cost of building up to 70,000 square feet of space pales in contrast to the legal battle that followed with the David Project. The latter is a hate group whose goal was not to score a legal win, but rather bleed the Muslim community financially.

They didn’t have a legal leg to stand but they succeeded in interrupting the timely completing the construction by depleting our much-needed resources by forcing us into a legal battle.

I recall attending a meeting where the leadership sought to consult with community members from all over the states. Several members of the community seemed to agree that coalition building was the best way to proceed.

For the longest time, the Muslim community acted as it lived in a cocoon. It is as if the community lived in a gated community and saw no value in interacting with the larger community.

This is basically the same rationale that delayed the integration and wobbled the standing of the Muslim community in Europe. As American Muslims, we knew not to make the same mistake as our brethren in Europe.

The 2001 attacks gave us a rude awakening. We finally realize that we have unwittingly alienated ourselves. As a predominantly immigrant community, we found out that our newly acquired blue US passports didn’t put us at an equal footing with the rest of society.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MOROCCO WORLD NEWS