America’s real Muslim problem is Islamophobia

There’s a common perception that Muslims pose a threat to the security of the U.S., but the real threat is to them

anti-mosque-racism-protest_usa_300515-2June 2018 was an especially bad month for the status of Muslims in America. First, we learned that a new study showed that many Americans view Muslims in the United States as insufficiently “American,” and almost 20 percent would deny Muslim citizens the right to vote. Then, the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries in a 5-4 decision.

The synergy of these two pieces of information is critical because it reveals a common attitude that Muslims pose a threat to U.S. security whether they are U.S. citizens or not. And while these attitudes do break down heavily across party lines, it is noteworthy that the study of U.S. perceptions of Muslim Americans conducted by Dalia Mogahed and John Sides for the Voter Study Group indicated that even 12 percent of Democrats would consider denying Muslim citizens the right to vote. Their study also showed that 32 percent of Democrats favor targeting Muslims at U.S. airport screenings to ensure the safety of flights. That figure compares with 75 percent of Republicans.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority SCOTUS opinion upholding the travel ban. He emphasized that, despite ample evidence of President Donald Trump’s animus towards the Muslim community, the ban was a security issue and not an example of discrimination, “Because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification.”




ISN recently spoke with Jordan Denari Duffner, author of Finding Jesus among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic. While a student at Georgetown University, Duffner spoke from the main stage at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) on dialogue with Muslims. She has continued to join ISN at IFTJ as a breakout presenter through her work with the Bridge Initiative, a research initiative on Islamophobia based at Georgetown University where she previously worked as a research fellow and is now an associate. Duffner is a graduate of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University.

Can you explain how this book came to be? How and when did you find yourself as a voice for Christian-Muslim relations?

In many ways, the book emerges from my own experience. I have studied Islam and Islamophobia, and have also lived and worked among Muslims both in the United States and in Amman, Jordan in the Middle East. The book is a call for Catholics and other Christians to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters. In it, I talk about how dialogue doesn’t draw us away from our faith, but how it can deepen our relationship with God, which has been my experience.

I also hope the book fills a need. When I worked as a research fellow for the Bridge Initiative, I spent much of my time doing research on Catholic media portrayals of Islam. I realized that there were very few books about Islam out there for Catholics that reflected the approach the Catholic Church wants us to take. I hope my book can serve as an invitation for Catholics—both students and adults—to engage in the positive relationships the Church calls us to.


An anti-Muslim narrative has shaped policy for decades. The travel ban will make it worse.

no ban 1The Supreme Court of the United States yesterday upheld President Donald Trump’s decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries yesterday in a 5-4 decision.

The ruling did not come as a surprise to me.

I’m a lawyer, educator, and Muslim woman who focuses on racial justice. My work is all about interrupting the process of dehumanization that leads to crimes against humanity on marginalized groups. I’m devastated about the Supreme Court’s decision, but we saw this coming.

I often hear good-hearted people say that certain incidents are “un-American” or don’t represent “their America.” But suggesting this ban is unique erases our nation’s ugly history of anti-Muslim sentiment, one that sits within a larger picture of systematic racism against many other groups.

The “travel ban” — a term that sanitizes what is in fact a Muslim ban — is the latest in a series of policies that have targeted Muslims inaccurately seen as agents, or agents-in-waiting, of a dangerous foreign “ideology” that needs to be eradicated. These anti-Muslim narratives are sponsored by a million-dollar industry, pushing rhetoric like the takeover of “sharia law” in America through “think tanks” like the Center for Security Policy that provide fodder for conservative commentators like Newt Gingrich.

Islamophobia is not simply interpersonal hatred or fear. It is a system of bigotry that identifies and targets those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim, no matter what their race or country of national origin.



Anti-Muslim round-up from the Southern Poverty Law Center

Detroit Area Mosques VandalizedThe following is a list of activities and events of anti-Muslim organizations. Organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups are designated with an asterisk (*).

National Group Activity

Western Conservative Summit (WCS) features Frank Gaffney: A mix of establishment, conservative and far-right figures headlined this year’s WCS in Denver, Colorado on June 8 and 9. As Hatewatch pointed out earlier last month, “The WCS has been a forum for anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant oratory in the past, and this year looks to be no different.” High-profile anti-Muslim figure Frank Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy* spoke at the event, indulging in conspiracy theories about “refujihad” and Muslims’ “demographic jihad” to “outbreed[] non-Muslims.” During Gaffney’s presentation he also implied that a coterie of political bodies, social media companies and civil rights organizations — including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and the European Union — were “the leading edge of civilization jihad in America and worldwide.”

ACT for America* attempts to expand to college campuses: ACT recently launched a new project called “Campus Hate Watch” to “expose and challenge college or university employees who discriminate against student’s (sic) First Amendment rights and spread hateful propaganda inside the classroom.” ACT claims it will be monitoring faculty who are supposedly spewing “anti-Americanism” rhetoric and “anti-Semitism.” The group makes no specific mention of challenging anti-Muslim hate, which it has a long historyof fomenting. This is not the first time ACT has tried to expand its work to college campuses. In 2014, ACT attempted to launch student chapters on college campuses as a “counterweight” to the Muslim Student Association.

Reaction to White House’s Iftar dinner: Some American Muslim groups, leaders and community members said if invited, they would not attend the White House’s Iftar dinner that took place on June 6. This was in response to President Trump’s draconian policies like the Muslim ban. Meanwhile, anti-Muslim figures criticized Trump for saying favorable things about Islam during the event, such as “Iftars mark the coming together of families and friends to celebrate a timeless message of peace, clarity and love.” Hugh Fitzgerald, a contributor to Jihad Watch*, claimed in a June 8 blog that Trump’s Iftar speech shows he either needs “a re-education on the subject of Islam” or that he was lying and practicing his own version of taqiyya, an obscure and misunderstood Islamic concept that is popular among the far-right who claim it gives Muslims free reign to lie about their nefarious intentions. “Some will still find his remarks on Islam unforgivable,” Fitzgerald wrote. “I’m inclined to think that Trump thought it was okay to practice his own form of taqiyya, offering a modicum of praise of the faith where none was due.” Three days later, during a June 11 episode of his “Understanding the Threat” radio show, former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim conspiracist John Guandolo called for Trump’s Iftar dinner speech writer to be fired, saying “this is a step backwards.” “I don’t know what in the world the president is talking about. Islam does not celebrate love the way we understand love … Islam does not actually teach love.” Guandolo heads the anti-Muslim hate group Understanding the Threat*.

John Bolton’s earnings: On June 11, the White House released financial disclosures of over two dozen staffers, including National Security Adviser John Bolton. According to The Washington Post, Bolton earned $2.2 million in 2017, and $155,000 of it came from the Gatestone Institute, an organization known for spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Bolton served as chairman of Gatestone before joining the Trump administration.


CA Coffee Shop Refused to Serve Christian Man Who Harassed Muslim Woman

A Christian man yelled at and harassed a Muslim woman while they were in line at a coffee shop in Riverside, Calif., and the barista and her supervisor stepped in.

Kathleen “Amina” Deady was wearing a niqab, a traditional Muslim head dress symbolizing modesty, when a still-unidentified man standing in front of her said, “Is this Halloween or something?” That would ultimately lead to the man yelling aggressively that he doesn’t “like” her religion, and then being denied service by staff at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

The video can be found here:

CJ Werleman


“I’m a Muslim [woman].”

“I know your religion and I don’t want to be killed by you.”

This took place at a cafe in California yesterday.

The video of the interaction has gone viral, but in case you haven’t seen it, here’s what happened.


Are you afraid of Muslims? This pastor says ‘Islamophobia’ is dangerous

Hate groups in the U.S. spend millions of dollars each year whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment through websites, videos, white papers and the like, a Washington pastor said.

That industry — the “Islamophobia industry” — is a dangerous thing, Pastor Terry Kyllo kyllotold the Herald.

The Anacortes man is working with a Muslim leader from the west side to fight it. They’re bringing their “Faith over Fear: Standing with our Muslim Neighbors” event to Pasco on Tuesday.

Kyllo, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the group Neighbors in Faith, will speak alongside Aneelah Afzali, founder of the American Muslim Empowerment Network.



UK: ‘Hello, I am Muslim’

International event aims to encourage mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

muslimsAn international event aiming to break fears and prejudices against Muslims and promote empathy has been launched in King’s Cross station in central London, the capital of Britain.

The event this week will see young Muslims promoting mutual understanding in public places in various countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Austria.

‘Hello, I am a Muslim’

The Islamic Community Milli Gorus (ICMG) group said in a statement on Thursday that thousands of young Muslims living in Europe, Australia and Canada will take to the streets to deliver “their ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ message to introduce themselves”.

“Contacting people individually is the most natural and the best way of promoting understanding and empathy,” the ICMG said.

“We have prepared the ‘Hello, I am a Muslim’ events to encourage mutual communication and cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Kemal Ergun, the group’s president.

More than 500 mosques across Europe will also take part in the initiative, according to the ICMG statement.