Muslim Americans

Islamophobia, the irrational fear of Muslim people, is present in American society. According to a 2010 survey, 43 percent of Americans admitted that they are prejudiced against Muslims.

“Where racism is no longer tolerated in the U.S., anti-Muslim attitudes are acceptable and, in fact, are seen as measures of U.S. patriotism,” Princeton University professor of politics Amaney Jamal said.

Jamal presented “Muslims in America: Identity, Integration, or Exile,” on Thursday, April 18, in the packed Library Auditorium. It was the final lecture in the “Social Justice and the Politics of Dissent in the Muslim World Lecture Series,” organized for the College this year.

Junior biology major, Ryan Moazamian, said he was intrigued to hear about “the structural forces that played a role in creating Islamophobia.”

The United States is no utopia. Yet some of our civil rights policies and social justice practices have improved since the founding fathers signed their John Hancock.

“In the last several decades we’ve developed social desirability,” Jamal said. “It turns out there is no social desirability when it comes to Muslims.”

After the tragic events of 9/11, Jamal said that 80 percent of Muslim Americans  were monitored by the FBI.

“The assumption was that terrorists were hiding out in the Muslim community,” she said. Jamal explained that the truth is that most terrorist activity is abroad.

“There are not the links to the domestic Muslim (American) community and terrorists abroad,” Jamal said. But many Americans believe that this connection is present.

Because of this ignorance, Muslim American people have a negative stigma associated with them. They are viewed as foreigners and threats to the safety of United States. This attitude has resulted in discrimination, racial profiling and unjust United States government supported monitoring of the Muslim-American population.

Muslim-American activists have endorsed several campaigns to attempt to eliminate the stereotype.

“They’re just not winning the public relations war in the U.S.,” Jamal said.

They are not going to succeed on their own. For discrimination against Muslim Americans to decrease, the treatment of Muslim Americans must be seen as an American issue, not just a Muslim problem, according to Jamal.

“It was eye-opening,” said Sara Cook, junior political science major. She learned that “all Americans are responsible for ending Islamophobia.”

The lecture was sponsored by the Culture and Intellectual Community Program Council, the JP Goelet Foundation, the Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Office, the Freshman Seminar Program, the Departments of History and Political Science, the International Studies Program, Eurasia/Middle East Society and the Alan Dawley Center for Social Justice.

Princeton professor discusses post-9/11 perception of Muslims. (Janika Berridge / Photo Assistant)