Based in Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, The Bridge Initiative is a multi-year research project that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square.
This pioneering "crossover" initiative brings together celebrated faculty, subject-matter experts, and seasoned researchers to examine attitudes and behaviors towards Muslims; dissect public discourses on Islam; and uncover the operational mechanisms of engineered Islamophobia in an effort to raise public awareness and enrich public discourse on this pernicious form of prejudice. Through its website, The Bridge Initiative disseminates original and accessible research, offers engaging commentary on contemporary news, and hosts a repository of high-caliber studies, polls, articles, and other informational resources. By wedding rigorous research and analysis with the accessibility and reach of the Internet, the Bridge Initiative seeks to fulfill Thomas Jefferson's dream of a "well-informed citizenry."
To highlight the problem of Islamophobia, challenge the discourses that contribute to it, and offer an alternative narrative based on research that is accessible to the public.
Recognition of Islamophobia as an obstacle to strong pluralistic societies and therefore a threat to human dignity and civil liberties.
Why The Bridge Initiative?
The Bridge Initiative was born out of recognition that the age of the Internet-with its democratization of communications-presents unique challenges and opportunities for those seeking to educate the public and inform popular culture.
In recent decades, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination has increased exponentially in the United States and Europe, with national and global consequences. Pseudo-scholars and polemicists peddle their writing online, are viewed by many as credible and reliable voices, and therefore strongly impact popular culture.
The emergence of a well-funded organized Islamophobic network (OIN) has spawned websites and false narratives on the Internet that seep from the web into media and popular culture. As a result, Americans - the majority of whom look to the Internet for information and answers on pressing questions - miss credible empirical information and are bombarded with pseudo-scholarship that fosters prejudice and fear.
This pioneering "crossover" initiative brings faculty, subject-matter experts, and researchers together to examine attitudes and behaviors towards Muslims: to dissect public discourses on Islam; to uncover the operational mechanisms of engineered Islamophobia; to develop and disseminate alternative narratives that raise public awareness and enrich public discourse on this dangerous form of prejudice.
The mission of Georgetown University's Center, since its founding in 1993, has been to build stronger bridges of understanding between the Muslim World and the West, focusing on Islam AND the West and Islam IN the West.
Based in Washington, D.C., ACMCU has played a significant role informing and educating not only about Islam and Muslims but also, since the late 1990s, about the emergence and impact of Islamophobia. Faculty have published books and articles, participated in conferences nationally and internationally, and been visible in media and social media. ACMCU has convened major international conferences on Islamophobia, which resulted most recently in Oxford University Press' Islamophobia and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century. Nathan Lean, the Bridge Initiative's current Director of Research, authored The Islamophobia Industry.
What is Islamophobia?
Islamophobia Defined :
Islamophobia is prejudice towards or discrimination against Muslims due to their religion, or perceived religious, national, or ethnic identity associated with Islam.
Like anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia, Islamophobia describes mentalities and actions that demean an entire class of people. Jews, African-Americans, and other populations throughout history have faced prejudice and discrimination. Islamophobia is simply another reincarnation of this unfortunate trend of bigotry.
What Islamophobia Isn't :
Rational criticism of Islam or Muslims based on factual evidence is not intrinsically Islamophobia, just as criticism of the tenets or followers of other religions or ethnic groups does not necessarily indicate bigotry or prejudice.
Read more about the term "Islamophobia" and the origins of the word here