A man wearing traditional Islamic clothing praying on a prayer mat with a center-cross circle

What is Islamophobia?

Published on 26 Oct 2023
This article was written by Bridge Initiative Associate Director Mobashra Tazamal and appears in NeighborlyFaith in October of 2023.

As a researcher on Islamophobia, I have spent years monitoring and analyzing anti-Muslim racism, investigating how it manifests and impacts Muslims and wider society. Over the years, I’ve often received the same question when I tell people about my work: “What is Islamophobia?”

To put it simply, Islamophobia is a form of racism that targets Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and results in the infringement of their human rights. While Muslims are not a race, they have been racialized. This means that society has constructed Muslims as sharing a set of physical and cultural traits that are natural to them. An easy way to understand this racialization is to examine what image comes to mind when you hear the word “Muslim.” More likely than not, the image will be of an individual of brown skin with a long beard, or wearing a headscarf or face veil, or wearing a turban. While none of these things are exclusive to Muslims, they have come to define them in Western imagination.


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