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5 things your congregation can do to stop Islamophobia

5 things your congregation can do to stop Islamophobia

1. Learn about Islam, Islamophobia, and the movement to counter Islamophobia.  

Spend some time with your Quaker community learning more about Islam, the impacts of Islamophobia, and the movement to stop it.  

Photo: Mike Gifford, Creative Commons

Listen to an audio recording of Iftikhar Hussein, Chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations PA, and Raed Jarrar, AFSC’s Government Relations Manager, discuss Islam, Islamophobia, and Muslims in America. 

Read AFSC’s report, “Mixed Messages,” which documents how mainstream media outlets fuel the narrative of Islam as an inherently violent religion and provide justification for the never ending “War on Terror.” You can also read a summary of the report or an article published by truthout about its findings. 

Read Stephen McNeil’s article, “Promoting Security or Fearmongering? Islamophobia and policing.” 

Watch a video of AFSC’s live-streamed conversation, “Syrian refugee crisis in context.” 

"Read, "Quakers appalled by Islamophobia," written by Lana Robinson, Clerk of the Canadian Friends Service Committee, and Elaine Bishop, Clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. 

Read, “An Open Letter Regarding Islamophobia and Criticism of Possible Refugees,” by Genie Stowers, Clerk of Berkeley Monthly Meeting. 

Read current news about Islamophobia from the Islamophobia Project of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Visit the Center for American Progress’ interactive website that tracks the organizations, spokespeople, and impact of the Islamophobia Network. Read their report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.” They also recently published an update.  

2. Build relationships with the local Muslim community. 

"Wherever you are, there is probably a local Muslim community, and a Muslim community that may increasingly feel that it is isolated and fearful. Establishing links with local Muslim communities is something that I believe Quakers in are particular are adept at doing and should be encouraged to do." - Naveed Moeed

"With tensions mounting between the U.S. and the Muslim world, integrating newcomers from those countries raises a whole set of sensitivities and challenges. That’s where ”Hawo’s Dinner Party: The New Face of Southern Hospitality”  comes in. This half-hour DVD serves as a tool for community leaders – including educators, clergy, law enforcement, public officials, and employers – who are helping to integrate newcomers with unique needs, often against considerable obstacles. By focusing on the experiences of several Somali residents in Shelbyville – including Hawo, a refugee and former nurse who now works at a local poultry processing plant, and Mohamed, the local imam – the module puts a human face on the complex issues we face in this time of increasing globalization." from the Shelbyville Multimedia website (includes additional resources) 

Visit a local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to learn about the Muslim communities in your area, invite a speaker to your Quaker meeting, or find out about upcoming actions or campaigns.  

3. Interrupt Islamophobia 

Islamic Center of Greensboro Peace Festival (Photo: Lori Fernald Khamala, AFSC)

"I think allies are incredibly important, and I think this really stretches across from movements that are trying to counter Islamophobia to broader movements against racism. All of these movements really benefit when there are allies that are engaged. And what I mean by engaged isn't leading those movements, per se. What I mean by engaged is people who are holding their peers accountable."  - Layla Razavi 

-  Read Zoha Qamar’s, “An A-Z Guide to Being a Muslim Ally,” published by the blog Muslim Girl. 

- Read "Dear Non-Muslim Allies," by Sofia Ali-Khan.

-  Stand up against xenophobia and Islamophobia this election season by holding political candidates accountable for hateful rhetoric and policy proposals. 

- Write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper challenging Islamophobia and xenophobia.

4. Stand in solidarity with the Muslim community 

(Photo: Markus Merz, Creative Commons)“For those who ascribe to beliefs of treating everyone equally, we have to act on it. And within our safe spaces, we have to be very vocal, and we have to be very active in acting on these principles in a time when it really matters.” - Raed Jarrar 

-  Learn more about Quaker Social Change Ministry, a program of AFSC’s Friends Relations that can support your meeting/church in their work to confront Islamophobia. 

Join MPower Change, “a grassroots movement in diverse Muslim communities throughout the United States who are working together to build social, spiritual, racial, and economic justice for all people.”  

- Look for local marches, vigils, volunteer days, campaigns, etc. led by the Muslim community nearest to you. Take a public stand against Islamophobia and encourage members of your meeting/church to do the same. 

5. Advocate against anti-Islamic and xenophobic state and federal policies. 

From anti-Sharia legislation to calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States, the need to hold political candidates and representatives accountable has never been more important. Contact your state and federal representatives when legislation or rhetoric targets Muslims, and encourage f(F)riends and family to do so as well. Keep an eye out for actives campaigns from AFSC, FCNL, MPower Change, CAIR, and other organizations confronting Islamophobia. 

Read AFSC’s letter to Congress, urging them to stand against xenophobia.

(Photo: Misha Voloaca, Creative Commons)