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10 things you can do to challenge Islamophobia

Person stands in room holding a large white notepad
A Communities Against Islamophobia workshop in Chicago. Photo: Chicago / AFSC

There are many ways to confront anti-Muslim or anti-refugee violence in your community, from talking with your friends to supporting organizations that welcome refugees to advocating for policies to stop violence against Muslims.

Here are some suggestions and resources. 

1. Get trained on bystander intervention.

Unfortunately, we continue to see more public acts of violence and harassment again Muslims, Asians, Black people, Jewish people, trans people, and many others. Today it’s more important than ever that we know how to keep each other safe. Use these bystander intervention resources to assess how to intervene while considering the safety of everyone involved. 

2. Support organizations that assist refugee communities in your city.

Volunteer your time or donate. If you're not familiar with local organizations, you can type your ZIP code on this site to find nonprofits that assist refugees in your area. 

3. Read and share news and commentary from Muslim writers and organizers.

Learn the stories of young Muslims in the United States. Check out and these folks on Twitter:

4. Donate to legal aid organizations that defend and support Muslim communities and activists in the U.S., including those facing entrapment and repression as a result of the "war on terror."

5. Educate young people about Islamophobia.
Are you an educator? Consider using the 6-12th grade Countering Anti-Muslim Racism in Schools curriculum developed by AFSC and the University of Illinois-Chicago. The curriculum is aligned to Common Core, and is full of lesson plans and resources.

6. Research police militarization in your community.

What military grade equipment and training is your local police department receiving? How is "war on terror rhetoric" and Islamophobia leading to more profiling and violence against communities of color? What can you do about it? 

Check out the “Equipped for War” report from AFSC’s California Healing Justice program. It offers a great model and toolkit for communities seeking transparency on police militarization.

7. Form a study group with friends or colleagues. Here are some books we recommend.

8. Challenge and resist any U.S. military escalations in the Middle East/North Africa.

If you watch mainstream media news, also seek alternative media sources.

Call in to radio shows when you hear anti-Muslim commentators, people talking flippantly about terrorism, or suggesting the U.S. should engage in more warfare abroad.

9. Learn about the specific targeting and struggles of Black Muslim communities in the U.S.

Countering Islamophobia town hall meeting sponsored by CAIR, AFSC, and other organizations. Photo: AFSC/Tony Heriza

Did you know that nearly one-third of Muslims in the U.S. are Black? This op-ed gives some much needed insights on how Black Muslim communities (there are many, and they are different) often get overlooked in conversations on Islamophobia in the U.S.

Additionally, be sure to check out the Movement for Black Lives policy platform, as many of their recommendations impact Muslim communities. 

10. Subscribe to the newsletters of frontline organizations challenging "war on terror" rhetoric and policies.

Learn more about how targeted communities are building power and resisting, and how you can support their efforts. 

About the Authors

Debbie Southorn is the Program Program with Chicago’s Peacebuilding program, where she has organized with youth and communities in Chicago around anti-militarism, divesting from policing, and ending surveillance since 2015.  

Mary Zerkel is coordinator of AFSC's Communities Against Islamophobia initiative, director of Chicago Peacebuilding, and has worked at AFSC for over 20 years.

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