Islamophobia is best understood as fear of Muslims and Islam and/or discrimination against those who practice Islam. Discrimination against Muslims remains high in the United States after a sharp rise in hate crimes directed against them following the attack on September 11th. The most intense phase of attacks against them occurred for several months directly after 9/11. While the number of attacks against the Muslim community dropped after this time, there was a spike in hate crimes against them in 2016. These attacks usually happen in neighborhoods and threaten the livelihoods and safety of Muslims daily. Between 60-62% report facing high levels of religious discrimination.
In fact, Muslims experience religious discrimination at higher rates than any other group. This includes discrimination at an institutional level as well as interpersonal. Examples include the fact that 44% of Muslims reported facing discrimination at the airport, 33% when applying for a job, 31% when interacting with law enforcement, and 25% reported facing discrimination when receiving healthcare. Both women and men report similar levels and experiences of discrimination, and 51% of Muslim American adults reported that their child was bullied for their faith in the past year.
There are many ways that we can contribute to fighting Islamophobia. This includes educating ourselves on the Muslim faith and the discrimination they face worldwide, reaching out to the Muslims in our areas, and standing up for the beliefs of others wherever possible. We must all examine our own biases and look to the sources of assumptions we may have. Acknowledge that extremist events and behaviors do not represent Islam or Muslims as a whole. Take the time to speak with a Muslim peer, read books written and TED talks given by Muslims, and learn about how the core values of Islam do not condone violence. It is essential that we understand our role in Islamophobia so that we can eradicate it.