While it is unreasonable to expect that Muslim Americans should bear the double burden of both dealing with the prejudice against them and working to prevent it, today Muslim Americans have been engaged in various campaigns and projects to counter hate and bigotry. As was the case with previous ethnic and religious groups such as Jews, Catholics, Germans, Irish, and Japanese, this may turn out to be a prolonged struggle for civil rights; for African Americans or Latino Americans, this struggle is ongoing, and Muslim Americans join other groups in calling for an end to bigotry of any sort.
The following are some of the ways that Muslim Americans and their allies are working to combat Islamophobia:
- Since Islamophobia is based on ignorance, education about Islam and Muslims is one of the most potent weapons against it. ING, founded in 1993, has delivered thousands of presentations about Islam and Muslims in the San Francisco Bay area and, through its network of affiliates, nationwide. These presentations not only provide authentic and accurate information about Muslims and their faith but also give audiences an opportunity to interact with a Muslim face-to-face, often for the first time. ING’s impact studies demonstrate the effectiveness of ING’s work in dispelling stereotyping of and prejudice against Muslims.
- Islamophobia often leads to violations of Muslims’ civil rights. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Muslim Advocates are the leading organizations in the country addressing this issue.
- Interfaith allies are key to improving Muslims’ standing in the U.S. Many people of various faiths have come out in support of Muslims, particularly when Muslims are under attack. The steps they have taken include:
- Organizing multi-faith vigils around mosques
- Publishing articles and letters in support of Muslims
- Holding counter-protests against Islamophobic demonstrations
- Encouraging congregants to visit mosques and build relationships with Muslims
- Welcoming Muslims into interfaith organizations and events
- A number of national organizations exist specifically to build solidarity between Muslims and people of other faith traditions, including Shoulder to Shoulder, Peace Catalyst, and Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. The national Know Your Neighbor Coalition, founded at the White House in December, 2015, and Multifaith Encounters, its grassroots outreach, which is led by ING, bring Muslims and people of other faiths together to build interreligious understanding and respect.
- Many mosques also engage in interfaith outreach. Open houses and interfaith dinners have become popular ways of reaching out to neighbors of different faiths and have met with great response.
- Much is being done by both Muslims and their allies to combat Islamophobia, but more needs to be done, and help is always welcome.