Published by Amy McCaig at Rice University News and Media
Islamophobia represents a form of racism mixed with cultural intolerance as a whole, rather than simply intolerance of Muslims and Islam, according to a new paper from a Rice University sociologist.
“The Racialization of Islam in the United States: Islamophobia, Hate Crimes and ‘Flying While Brown’” is published in the journal Religions. Author Craig Considine, a lecturer in sociology at Rice, reviewed more than 40 news articles and referenced dozens of academic studies relating to the experiences of American Muslims and the stereotypical depictions of Muslims. His analysis revealed several findings from the various articles and research papers that support his argument that racism is a symbolic form of Islamophobia, which has been misrepresented as a form of religious bias that oppresses U.S. Muslims on the grounds that Islam is nefarious and antithetical to American values.
“We often hear that because Muslims are not a race, people cannot be racist for attacking Muslims,” Considine said. “This argument does not stack up. It is a simplistic way of thinking that overlooks the role that race plays in Islamophobic hate crimes.”
Considine summarizes the findings below:
- In 2016 alone, incidents of Islamophobia, including acts of violence and nonviolent harassment, rose by 57 percent.
- More than half of hate crimes in the U.S. in 2015 – 59.2 percent – were linked to a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. Only 19.7 percent of hate crimes were linked to a religious bias, and 17.7 percent to a sexual orientation bias.
- More than 50 percent of Muslims experienced some form of hostility between 2010 and 2014, and more than one-third of Muslims felt they had been targeted on the basis of being identified as Muslim.
- News outlets give drastically more coverage to crimes by Muslims. Attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 449 percent more coverage than crimes carried out by non-Muslims.
- Out of more than 1,000 Hollywood films depicting Arabs, 932 of these films depicted them in a stereotypical or negative light. For example, Arabs/Muslims were constructed as the ominous figure: the bearded, dark-skinned, turban-wearing terrorist. Only 12 films depicted these individuals in a positive way.
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