Islamophobia in the United States

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The definition of Islamophobia is highly debated. Chris Allen, author of Islamophobia and scholar of the subject, argues that Islamophobia, as a concept, does not fall into strict categories of social inequality. Rather, it contains both elements of religious and racial discrimination.[1] Allen also argues that the consequences of islamophobia have also been mistakenly used to define it, when really these consequences are just indicators that islamophobia has manifested itself into the public space. Some of these indicators include violence, harassment, discrimination in hiring, the lack of muslims in management positions, destruction of property, and the often skewed media representations that paint the Muslim population as a monolith.[2]

Islamophobia in the United States relates to the increase of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States from the late 20th century onwards and its associated ramifications. The FBI hate crime statistics from 2000 lists anti-Muslim physical assaults spiking in 2001 after 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as notably in 2015.[3]

In employment

In hiring

A 2013 Carnegie Mellon University study found that, nationally, Muslims had "13% fewer callbacks" than Christians after submitting identical job applications to the same establishments.[4] The study also concluded that discrepancies between callbacks for Muslims and Christians were larger "in counties with a high fraction of Republican voters," with Christians getting almost four times as many return calls in these constituencies. On the other hand, there was no discernible hiring discrimination against Muslims in Democratic counties.[5] Biases were larger on the state level, with Christians getting more than seven times as many callbacks than Muslims in Republican states. Democratic states, once again, showed "no significant callback biases." The study added that "employers in older counties are significantly less likely to call back the Muslim candidate compared to the Christian candidate"[6]

In 2008, Abercrombie & Fitch refused to hire a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf, claiming that wearing the headscarf violated the company's "look policy." In the 2015 case, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, the Supreme Court ruled that this practice violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[7]

In the workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recorded 1,490 claims of bias against Muslims in the workplace in 2009, which was an increase from 1,304 in 2008 and 697 in 2004. Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix district office of the EEOC, asserted that "there is a hatred, an open hatred, and a lack of tolerance for [workers] who are Muslim."[8]

In 2017, the government of New York City charged Pax Assist with discrimination after refusing requests by Muslims employees to change the times of their breaks to coincide with iftar. The company responded by saying "we don’t care about Ramadan. We’ll give you a break on our time, not your time."[9]

In education

At Columbus Manor school, a suburban Chicago elementary school where nearly half the student body is Muslim Arab American, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture's holidays were not included. Local parent, Elizabeth Zahdan, said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group's goal. "I only wanted them modified to represent everyone," the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. "Now the kids are not being educated about other people." [10]However, the district's superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they "tone down" activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

In airports

Since the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11, American airports have considered it their duty to act as the "front line of defense". Polls conducted in the United States also show that more than half of Americans support the policy of more extensive security checks for Arab and Muslim Americans in airports. [11]


Some publishers have noted the presence of Islamophobia during immigration proceedings. Nonetheless, such forms of xenophobia have been said to primarily affect the male members of the Muslim population. There have also been claims stating that such forms of xenophobia have enveloped the Arab community in the U.S., often resulting in deportations, revocations of visa, and dispiriting interrogations at American airports.[12] This purportedly occurs because Muslim women are seen as less of a threat than Muslim men.[13]

In politics

When Herman Cain supported opposition to the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the appointment of a Muslim to his cabinet, it was described as islamophobic by some outlets.[14]

In 2014, Alabama's chief justice Roy Moore stated that the First Amendment only protected Christianity at an event for Pro-Life Mississippi. In the same speech, Moore stated "Mohammed didn't create us. It's the god of the Holy Scriptures."[15]

In June 2017, Jeff Sieting, the village president of Kalkaska, Michigan, shared Facebook posts in calling for the killing of "every last Muslim" and for nuclear weapons to be used on the world's 10-largest Muslim-majority cities. In July, after condemnation by several constituents, Sieting refused to apologize and said his comments were protected by the First Amendment.[16]


Hate crimes

Some publishers have opined that the increase in hate crimes against Muslims was an Islamophobic abuse with an ethnocentric trait. This is because many of its proponents do not distinguish between Arabs and Muslims and think all Arabs are Muslim by shapeshifting the Muslim faith into an ethnoreligion.[17] This is in contrast to decreasing hate crimes against other racial groups, such as blacks, Asians and Latinos with the exception of Jews.[17]

Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations attributes the spike in recent anti-Muslim attacks to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, as well as the coverage" 'radical Islam' on the news while not using the word "radical" for non-Muslim faiths.[18][19] According to a report by CNN[20] and a survey from the Council on American–Islamic Relations there have been over 63 acts of vandalism and anti Muslim behavior in 2015 from January through December 3.

Hate groups

In a report published Spring 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center stated that there were 101 active anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States in 2016 and that the number of hate groups had tripled since 2015.[21]


The Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, Texas, was set alight at 5am on the 13 February 2015. Some media reports described it as an Islamophobic attack.[22]


Zohreh Assemi, an Iranian American Muslim owner of a nail salon in Locust Valley, New York, was robbed, beaten, and called a "terrorist" in September 2007 in what authorities call a bias crime.[23] Assemi was kicked, sliced with a boxcutter, and had her hand smashed with a hammer. The perpetrators, who forcibly removed $2,000 from the salon and scrawled anti-Muslim slurs on the mirrors, also told Assemi to "get out of town" and that her kind were not "welcomed" in the area. The attack followed two weeks of phone calls in which she was called a "terrorist" and told to "get out of town," friends and family said.[23]


A Muslim school in the Northeastern U.S. state of Rhode Island was vandalised with graffiti bearing "Now this is a Hate crime", indicating that the perpetrators were wary of the hateful nature. The incident was described by some media outlets as "Islamophobic".[24]


Some commentators have criticized individual American New Atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens for making Islamophobic statements.[25][26][27] Commenting on Greenwald's response to Harris, Jerome Taylor, writing in The Independent, has stated that, "Like Chomsky, who has also been a vocal critic of New Atheism, he [Greenwald] blames writers like Harris for using their particularly anti-Islamic brand of rational non-belief to justify American foreign policies over the last decade.[28][29] Two educators at universities in Utah have claimed that these American atheist activists invoke Samuel Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' theory to explain the current political contestation and that this forms part of a trend toward "Islamophobia [...] in the study of Muslim societies".[30][verification needed]


Part of the study of Islamophobia has involved historians, scholars and educators writing about institutional violence against American Muslims and incitement of violence against foreign Muslims.[31] Edward Said in his book Orientalism describes how the West is taught about the East through a Westernized lens and that most of the East's history is written in Europe by European historians, instead of specialized scholars of Eastern history.[32] When applied, Orientalism serves as a way of using demeaning representations of the East to assert the cultural and political superiority of the West over inferior Muslims.[33]

See also


  1. ^ Allen, Chris (2010). Islamophobia. England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 126–190. ISBN 9781409417576. 
  2. ^ Cluck, Andrea Elizabeth. "Islamophobia in the post-9/11 United States: causes, manifestations, and solutions." Master's thesis, Truman State University, 2012. August 2012. Accessed October 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Anti-Muslim assaults reach 9/11-era levels, FBI data show". Pew Research Center. 2016-11-21. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  4. ^ Acquisti & Fong 2012, p. 3.
  5. ^ Acquisti & Fong 2012, p. 4.
  6. ^ Acquisti & Fong 2012, p. 22.
  7. ^ LeVine, Marianne (1 June 2015). "Supreme Court rules against Abercrombie in hijab case". Politico. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Tahmincioglu, Eve (13 September 2010). "Muslims face growing bias in the workplace". NBC News. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  9. ^ Kochman, Ben (26 January 2017). "City charges Queens wheelchair service company discriminated against Muslim employees during Ramadan". New York Daily News. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  10. ^ Citation Needed
  11. ^ Chandrasekhar, Charu (2003). "Flying while Brown: Federal Civil Rights Remedies to Post -9/11 Racial Profiling of South Asians". Asian American Law Journal. 10 (2): 222. Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
  12. ^ Figueroa, Tiffani B. "All Muslims are Like That: How Islamophobia is Diminishing Americans' Right to Receive Information." Hofstra L. Rev. 41 (2012): 467.
  13. ^ Elia, Nada. "Islamophobia and the" privileging" of Arab American women." NWSA Journal 18.3 (2006): 155-161.
  14. ^ Peter Beinart. "The GOP's Islamophobia Problem". The Atlantic. 
  15. ^ Kim, Clare (5 May 2014). "Alabama justice says the First Amendment only protects Christians". MSNBC. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  16. ^ "Michigan official stands by call for killing of all Muslims". ABC News. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Disha, Cavendish and King, "Historical Events and Spaces of Hate: Arabs and Muslims in Post-9/11 America", Social Problems
  18. ^ "Hate Crimes and Hate Speech" Colin Daleida, Mashable, February 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "The Islamophobia Stirred Up By Abbott and Bolt" Julian Burnside, The Guardian, February 27, 2015.
  20. ^ "Threats, harassment, vandalism at mosques reach record -". CNN. Retrieved 2015-12-12. 
  21. ^ Harkinson, Josh (15 February 2017). "Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have Tripled With the Rise of Trump". Mother Jones. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  22. ^ Nasheman. "US: Houston Muslim school burned down in what investigators say is likely an arson attack". Nasheman. 
  23. ^ a b "MUSLIM BIZ GAL BEATEN". New York Post. 16 September 2007. 
  24. ^ "US: Nonprofit Muslim School Vandalized in Rhode Island". 
  25. ^ [1] Unholy war: Atheists and the politics of Muslim-baiting, First Press, Apr 3, 2013
  26. ^ [2] Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus, Glen Greenwald, The Guardian, April 3, 2013
  27. ^ [3] Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists, Murtaza Hussain, Aljazeera, April 2, 2013
  28. ^ [4] Atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris face Islamophobia backlash, Jerome Taylor, The Independent, April 12, 2013.
  29. ^ Emilsen, William (August 2012). "The New Atheism and Islam". The Expository Times. 123 (11): 521. doi:10.1177/0014524612448737. 
  30. ^ Jacoby, Wade; Yavuz, Hakan (April 2008). "Modernization, Identity and Integration: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Islam in Europe". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 28 (1): 1. doi:10.1080/13602000802080486.  (subscription required)
  31. ^ Garner, Steve and Saher Selod, "The Racialization of Muslims: Empirical Studies of Islamophobia", Critical Sociology 41.1
  32. ^ Said, Edward. "Orientalism". Vintage Books, New York (1978): pp. 17.
  33. ^ Rath, Sura, "Post/past-'Orientalism' Orientalism and Its Dis/re-orientation", Comparative American Studies 2


  • Acquisti, Alessandro; Fong, Christina M. (2 April 2012). "An Experiment in Hiring Discrimination Via Online Social Networks". Carnegie Mellon University. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2031979. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
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