Living Questions: Confronting Islamophobia | WYPR

Living Questions: Confronting Islamophobia

Feb 16, 2017

Protesters opposing a proposed Islamic center near the 9-11 Ground Zero site rally in Manhattan, June, 2010.
Credit Creative Common

Today, another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.  We’re producing this series in partnership with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

There’s been a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence in the United States over the past two years, which coincides with the divisive presidential campaign and election of Donald Trump.  Negative perceptions of Muslims are nothing new.  Nearly half of all Americans believe Islam is a faith more likely than others to encourage terrorism.  

These notions have been fueled by several high-profile terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States by self-proclaimed “jihadists,” but they’ve also been advanced by a well-organized chorus of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US that started long before President Donald Trump started campaigning on a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.  One week after he assumed office last month, he issued a controversial executive order that attempted to halt immigration from 7 Muslim-majority countries, including an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.  That order has been stayed by a federal court.  

Last November, Mr. Trump’s former national security advisor. Michael Flynn, described “Islamism” as “a vicious cancer” in the bodies of every Muslim that he warned “must be excised.”

For many American Muslims, that kind of rhetoric has posed challenges to their basic safety. 

Next month, the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies will begin a series of lectures called Confronting Islamophobia

Today we’ve invited three Islamic scholars to Studio A to discuss their own experiences "confronting Islamophobia" and how evolving American perceptions of Islam have been influenced by the new political landscape in Washington:

Imam Tariq Najee-ullah is the Interim Resident Imam of Masjid Muhammad, a mosque in Washington, DC, and he’s the founder of DC Musliman, which uses interfaith activities to address social issues…

Kristin Garrity-Şekerci (sheh-CARE-jee) is a Research Fellow and program coordinator at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multiyear research project that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square. 

And Nazir Harb Michel is a senior research fellow with the Bridge Initiative.  He has worked with the Woodrow Wilson School training future policy makers and analysts to detect and counteract Islamophobia in legislation.