A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Be an Advocate Against Islamophobia

1) Educate Yourself About the History of Islamophobia

Contrary to popular opinion, the history of Islamophobia pre-dates 9/11. In order to be an advocate against Islamophobia, you must be willing to learn about the history of anti-Muslim racism that has plagued the United States. It is critical to not only educate yourselves but also your friends and family to begin confronting Islamophobia.

2) Advocate Against Islamophobic State Policies

Since 9/11, there have been a number of structural policies that have targeted American Muslims. One example was the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) which was a program that required non-immigrant men and boys over the age of 16 from 24 predominantly Muslim countries and North Korea to report to an immigration office to be photographed, fingerprinted, and interviewed. Those targeted by the NSEERS program were also required to leave the United States through specified ports. Anyone who failed to comply with the program faced arrest and deportation. The program was effectively dropped by the DHS in 2011 and was viewed by many as an ineffective and burdensome program involving a massive profiling campaign targeting individuals based on their Muslim religion and ethnicity.

Other prominent examples include entrapment of American Muslims, mass surveillance, the federal watchlist, anti-sharia bills, and countering violent extremism (CVE) programs. Learn more about anti-Muslim policies here.

3) Challenge Islamophobia When You See It

When you hear anti-Muslim rhetoric, what do you do? You should attempt to:

a. Call out racism when you see it.

b. Don’t be a bystander. Intervene and de-escalate the situation.

c. Report a hate crime.

You can learn more about combatting anti-Muslim rhetoric here.

4) Familiarize Yourself With Orientalist and Racist Tropes

In order to advocate against Islamophobia, you must be able to recognize the racist tropes surrounding Muslims and Islam. For example, one common trope is that “Muslims are a monolith.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Islam is one of the most diverse religions in the entire world. Only 20% of Arabs around the world are Muslims and Black Muslims account for a fifth of all U.S. Muslims, and about half are converts to Islam. Islam is also the fastest-growing religion in the world.

You can learn more about common orientalist and racist tropes here.

5) Meet a Muslim and Practice Active Listening

One of the best ways to be an advocate against Islamophobia is to meet a Muslim and practice active listening. Host a Muslim neighbor at your home and listen to their stories and experiences. You can also attend a local mosque program and community event to learn more about Islam and Muslims. Moreover, you should also learn more about the American Muslim community and its diversity.

To learn more about how to reach out to your Muslim neighbor, you can read this article.

Gaza: The Resurgence of Islamophobia in 2023

Read CAIR’s new preliminary paper on the state of Islamophobia leading up to and during the ongoing attacks by the far-right Israeli government against Palestinians in Gaza, which many legal and human rights experts have indicated may constitute the crime of genocide.

Read More »

Defining Islamophobia

CAIR is reissuing our definition of Islamophobia here as we continue to urge employers, schools, media, government entities, and others to identify and address Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism wherever it may appear.

Read More »

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