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Anti-Oppression Guide: Anti-Islamophobia

Table of Contents

None of us can be silent. We can't be bystanders to bigotry. And together we've got to show that America truly protects all faiths. --President Barack Obama



What does Islamophobia look like?

Support Resources for Muslim Folks

Informational Resources for Allies

A note on the scope of this guide:

This guide is intended to provide general information about anti-oppression, diversity, and inclusion as well as information and resources for the social justice issues key to current dialogues within the Lesley Community. This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of anti-oppressive initiatives nor does it capture all of the many facets of the larger conversations about the issues listed here. This guide serves as an introduction to these issues and as a starting place for finding information from a variety of sources.



Islamophobia is prejudice plus power; anyone with any religious beliefs can have/exhibit religion-based prejudice, ut in North America (and throughout much of the western world), people who follow Christianity have the institutional power, therefore Islamophobia is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against Muslim people due to their religion, or perceived religious, national, or ethnic identity associated with Islam. Like anti-Semitism, Islamophobia describes mentalities and actions that demean an entire class of people.

Note: Criticism of Islam should not be automatically conflated with bigotry against Muslims. Islamophobia is not the rational, respectful interrogation and/or criticism of Islam based on factual evidence, just as criticism of the tenets of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions does not necessarily indicate bigotry or prejudice. Islamophobia is the irrational fear of, discrimination against, and antagonism toward Muslims simply for being Muslims.

Further information: Islamophobia: The Right Word for a Real Problem

Anti-Islamophobia is strategies, theories, actions, and practices that challenge and counter Islamophobia, inequalities, prejudices, and discrimination based on religion, religious or ethical beliefs, and/or perceived religious, national, or ethnic identity.

What does Islamophobia look like?

Islamophobic Microaggressions are  commonplace verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults in relation to the beliefs and religious practices of Muslims. They are structurally based and invoke oppressive systems of religious/Chrisitan hierarchy. Islamophobic Microinvalidations, Microinsulsts, Microassaults are specific types of microaggressions.

Note: The prefix "micro" is used because these are invocation of religious hierarchy at the individual level (person to person), whereas the "macro" level refers to aggression committed by structures as a whole (e.g. an organizational policy). "Micro" in no way minimalizes or otherwise evaluates the impact or seriousness of the aggressions.

Six Categories of Common Islamophobic Microaggressions (from Subtle and Overt Forms of Islamophobia: Microaggressions toward Muslim Americans)

Endorsing Religious Stereotypes: statements or behaviors that communicate false, presumptuous, or incorrect perceptions of certain religious groups (e.g., stereotyping that a Muslim person is a terrorist or that a Jewish person is cheap).

  • Exoticization: instances where people view other religions as trendy or foreign (e.g., an individual who dresses in a certain religion’s garb or garments for fashion or pleasure).

  • Pathology of Different Religious Groups: Statements and behaviors in which individuals equate certain religious practices or traditions as being abnormal, sinful, or deviant (e.g., telling someone that they are in the “wrong” religion).

  • Assumption of One's Own Religious Identity as the Norm: Comments or behaviors that convey people’s presumption that their religion is the standard and behaves accordingly (e.g., greeting someone “Merry Christmas” or saying “God bless you” after someone sneezes conveys one’s perception that everyone is Christian or believes in God).

  • Assumption of Religious Homogeneity: Statements in which individuals assume that every believer of a religion practices the same customs or has the same beliefs as the entire group (e.g., assuming that all Muslim people wear head coverings).

  • Denial of Religious Prejudice: Incidents in which individuals claim that they are not religiously biased, even if their words or behaviors may indicate otherwise.

This video shows a policeman's very different reactions to two young men who argue first
in English, then later in Arabic.

Muslim Woman Needs Help With Flat Tire | What Would You Do?

A Muslim woman needs help with her car. Will reactions differ if she wears a hijab or
regular street clothes? 

Misconceptions about Islam (ISLAM IS NOT TERRORISM)

This video discusses how ISIS are NOT Muslims and how Islam is misunderstood
for a religion that promotes terrorism and violence due to ISIS.

Race and the Meaning of Terror 


Fusion’s Nando Vila explains how Muslims who commit mass acts of violence
are easily deemed terrorists, while white people who do the same thing are not.

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Support Resources for Muslim Folks

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Informational Resources for Allies

Religious/Christian Privilege

 Christian privilege is the unearned benefits that Christians in the US receive that members of other faiths (or non-religious people) do not. Some examples are below:

  • You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays.
  •  Holidays celebrating your faith are so widely supported you can often forget they are limited to your faith (e.g. wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” without considering their faith).
  • You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats.
  • When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith.
  • Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists.


Religious/Christian Fragility

Religious or Christian fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of religious stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as tears, argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate Christian or dominant religious equilibrium. (adapted from "White Fragility")

Christianity's religious dominance in the U.S. allows most American Christians to live in social environments that insulate them from challenging encounters with beliefs or people who differ from themselves. Within this dominant social environment, Christians come to expect social comfort and a sense of belonging and superiority. When this comfort is disrupted, Christians are often at a loss because they have not had to build skills for constructive engagement with difference. They may become defensive, positioning themselves as victims of anti-Islamophobic work and co-opting the rhetoric of violence to describe their experiences of being challenged on religious privilege. (adapted from "Christian Fragility")

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What are people saying about Anti-Islamophobia?

Celebrating Muslim Folks

How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About a Donald Trump Presidency

We're Muslim, Don't Panic (Video)

#CanYouHearUsNow? 8 famous speeches by Muslim women

The Struggles Of A Ramadan Fast (In A Non-Muslim Office) (Video)

Muslim Americans Are Tweeting Amazing Pictures Of Themselves

Representing the Muslim American Experience

Young Muslim American women try to succeed in politics in ways their fathers couldn’t

The Adventures of Hijabi Librarian

Muslims Win Eurovision, the London Mayoralty & the Great British Bake Off

9 Famous Americans You Probably Didn't Know Were Muslim

Amazing People (Muslim Inventors and Scientists)

15 Important Muslim Women in History

Muslim inventions that shaped the modern world

8 Great Modern Innovations We Can Thank Muslims For

Challenging Islamophobia

Muslim-American Women Are Using This Powerful Hashtag to Take a Stand Against Donald Trump (from Council on American-Islamic Relations)

The Bridge Initiative

Why We Must Challenge Islamophobia In All Its Forms

Muslims Read Hate Comments (Video)

Colleges Addressing Needs of Muslim Students

Trump "Tells it Like it is"

What do American Muslims think of the election and its presidential candidates?

Muslims are facing a civil rights crisis in America, and it’s the media’s fault

'Islamophobia': U.S. cities face anti-Muslim backlash

Radiohead new song 'Burn the Witch' video animator confirms it is about Islamophobia and the refugee crisis


In an effort at full disclosure, it should be noted that the collaborators on this guide occupy some of the oppressed identities outlined here, but not all of them. We have attempted to bring together quality, relevant resources for the anti-oppression issues in this guide, but we are not immune from the limits and hidden biases of our own privileges and perspectives as allies.

We welcome and greatly appreciate any feedback and suggestions for the guide, particularly from the perspectives and experiences of the marginalized groups listed and not listed here.

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