By now, most of us have heard about the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead.
And there are countless stories of Muslim-Americans and Muslims-who-have-confronted-anti-Muslim bigotry that make us feel uneasy.
So it is understandable that we are understandably nervous about the reactions to this tragedy, and how it might shape the conversation about how to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice and violence in the United States.
Yet the conversation around anti-Islam sentiment is far from over.
There is a great deal of anti-Islamic rhetoric that goes unchecked and even encouraged by politicians.
So how do we address this issue in a way that does not exacerbate the problems?
And how do Muslims and Muslim-American Muslims and Muslims in general address the bigotry, violence, and Islamophobia that is fueling the anti-Sikh hate?
These are the questions we asked ourselves as we prepared to write this book.
We asked ourselves this question not just because we are Muslim Americans, but because we have faced similar situations in our own lives.
While we are all Muslim- Americans, our families are all Muslims, and we all grew up in Muslim communities.
Yet there is a lot of anti-‘Muslim bigotry’ that goes unpunished and in many cases not recognized.
One of the first things that we do in our work is to create a map of the Muslim communities that are under attack and where the perpetrators are most likely to be.
We have created a map for each community that identifies places where anti-Semitic acts have been committed, where anti-‘Arab racism’ has been expressed, where Muslim-on-Muslim anti-Semitism has been prevalent, and where anti-“Islamophobia” rhetoric has been promoted and encouraged.
We then build an interactive map that helps Muslims understand how the anti-‘Islamophobia’ rhetoric they hear from politicians and leaders in their communities, from media, and from their own communities, contributes to the continued perpetuation of anti’-Muslim bigotry.
This map also helps us identify those communities that may not be as visible, and which are even less likely to report hate crimes.
And it helps us understand how to counter this hate and how to support Muslims who are victims of it.
What do Muslims have to say?
The Muslim community is divided on this issue.
While many Muslim- American Muslims and American Muslims-and-Muslim-Americans-who have-conversed-with-anti-‘Islamophobic rhetoric-believe that we need to address the problem of Islamophobia, the vast majority of Muslim Americans are not in favor of anti-“Muslim bigotry.”
In fact, there is wide agreement on the need to build a national coalition to tackle the problem, including on a broad spectrum of issues including the following: Muslims need to be part of the solution to the problem.
Muslims have an important role to play in combating anti- Muslim bigotry, because they are the most visible face of Islam in the U.S. Muslim-majority communities are the communities that have the highest levels of anti– Muslim bigotry.
In a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center, a whopping 86 percent of Muslim respondents said they were “somewhat” or “very” supportive of Muslim communities facing anti-Jewish and anti-Arab violence.
This sentiment is shared by Muslims-of-Muslim background as well as Muslim-in-the-U.S.-born, as well.
But the most telling fact about the role Muslims have in combating the problem is that Muslim-to-Muslim experiences of anti—Muslim bigotry and Islamophobic rhetoric have not always been shared.
This is true even when Muslims-to—Muslims confront anti-American rhetoric.
The first-ever Muslim-based survey conducted by the Muslim American Coalition found that only 25 percent of Muslims who had experienced anti- Jewish or anti- Arab rhetoric in their community felt that they were willing to speak out.
And when Muslims who have experienced anti–Muslim violence in their own community do speak out about the bigotry they experienced, they face very little support.
In fact this pattern was so striking that in response to the survey, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a coalition of Muslim organizations, launched a public awareness campaign called “Muslim Out Loud.”
The purpose of this campaign was to bring attention to the fact that Muslims-in the U,S.-who have experienced bigotry- and Islamophobes-in their communities are not exempt from anti–Islamic bigotry and violence.
MPAC also launched a program that gives Muslim-Muslim youth a chance to get out of the closet and to share their experiences with others.
This campaign is intended to help young Muslims who may not have experienced discrimination at school or community centers to be more comfortable with their identity and understand how other Muslims feel.
This awareness-raising campaign is aimed at Muslim- Muslim youth, Muslim-Jewish youth, and Muslim Muslim youth who may be dealing with discrimination or who have been discriminated against in the past.
The aim of the campaign is to help these