By Joe Jenkins
In a June 2016 report, Confronting Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the U.S. 2013-2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) looks at the power and influence of Islamophobic groups in the United States, and lays out a four-pronged strategy for countering anti-Muslim sentiment.
CAIR identified 74 organizations that comprise what it dubs the U.S. Islamophobia network –organizations whose primary purpose is to promote hate and prejudice against Muslims, or whose work consistently demonstrates Islamphobic themes. The groups are well-funded, with access to over $205 million between 2008-2013, and have achieved troubling local victories, from anti-Muslim legislation to changes in the way that classroom textbooks are approved. CAIR reports that these groups’ speech is also growing increasingly violent, and that two disturbing new trends are emerging: businesses refusing service or entry to Muslims, and armed anti-Islam rallies.
The report outlines a four-pronged strategy forward. It doesn’t focus on dismantling the Islamophobia network itself, but on changing societal acceptance of Islamophobia.
The strategy first encourages Muslims to act their faith by being engaged members of their communities and working to ensure equality among all groups. Second, it seeks to advance the perspective that Islamophobia is no different from other forms of prejudice and undercuts American ideals. Third, it seeks to raise more legitimate and powerful voices on Islam and Muslims in the media and public dialogue. Last, it seeks to build up the power of Muslim communities to participate in U.S. political and policy life.
Read the full report and strategy recommendations here.