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Katelyn Dudash

Ms. Thomson
AP Language and Composition
January 31, 2017
The Impact of Islamophobia

In a world where religious affiliation shapes much of a person’s life, it can be difficult to

practice a religion that is considered to be a minority, or has a negative connotation, such as

Islam. Religion is arguably one of the most impactful aspects of life. Thoughts, opinions, and

ideas tend to follow whatever moral code religious beliefs follow. Islam, as a religion, has faced

increasing adversity since the September 11 attack which occurred in 2001. In the years

following, discrimination has caused many tensions that have isolated, or alienated, members of

the religion. As a diagnosed psychological disorder, alienation occurs when a person withdraws

or becomes isolated from their environment or other people (Barclay). Because alienation is a

complex condition, there are six different types which can affect individuals, and two of these,

cultural estrangement and isolation, have the largest impact on Muslims (Barclay). The

alienation that plagues various members of the Islamic faith in the United States has a negative

impact on their daily lives, but has no significant effect on their faith.

Alienation has a negative impact on the lives of Muslim Americans in the workplace and

community. Companies across the United States boast “equal opportunity employment”, which

is a government policy that requires that employers do not discriminate job applicants based on

age, race, sex, disability, and religion (“About EEOC”). However, many statistics and studies

suggest that job discrimination plagues the Muslim community. Despite making up 2% of the

population in the United States, Muslims face harsh job discrimination (“Muslim Employment

Discrimination”). Since 2001, 20% of religious based charges brought to the U.S. Equal
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Opportunity Commission have been from Muslim complaints, and this statistic only accounts for

reported cases of discrimination, which can only be part of an even greater number (“Muslim

Employment Discrimination”). In a study performed by Carnegie Mellon University, mock

resumes were compiled for entry level jobs to study job discrimination in relation to religious

affiliation. The resumes were filled with comparable information except for religion, and after

receiving thee results, it was found that between Muslim and Christian candidates, employers

were more negatively biased toward Muslim applicants (“Muslim Employment Discrimination”).

While job discrimination hurts the Muslim population in a more disguised way, other factors,

such as hate crimes, can be obviously detrimental to daily life. News headlines such as “Lockers

of Muslim Cops Vandalized with Hate Messages in the Bronx” and “Muslim Students’ Slayings

Investigated as Possible Hate Crime” plague the Muslim community, causing violence and fear

(Parascandola and Zucchino). Although hate crimes with religious motivation plague various

religious, statistics show that 22% of them are anti-Islamic (“Incidents and Offenses”).

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of hate crime statistics compiled by the FBI, there

were 91 reported aggravated or simple assaults motivated by Muslim bias in 2015 (Kishi). This

number is exceptionally close to the 93 assaults that were reported following the September 11

attacks. The United States has not witnessed or experienced an incident comparable to the

terrorist attack, so it is notable how current hate crimes have risen to a similar level. According

to these statistics, the United States has seen a great increase in the persecution of Muslims in

society.

Despite the negative impact that alienation has on the lives of Muslims, it appears to have

no significant impact on the faith of individuals. Interestingly, Islam is projected to be one of the

fastest growing religions in the United States. According to data obtained by the Pew Research
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Center, the Muslim population is projected to be the second largest religion in America

(following Christians) by 2050 (Kishi). These statistics show that the Islamic faith continues to

grow despite the alienation. It is fascinating to see that the isolation and cultural estrangement

does not result in a decline of faith. When looking at the causes for loss of faith across all

religions in America, the most common reasons were doubting the faith, disliking the

organization, and inactivity (Lipka). While these reasons are all valid, none give any indication

that persecution or alienation had any impact on their faith, and so it is valuable to look at

historical examples that show the impact that persecution and alienation had on faith. In some of

the worst atrocities that have occurred in the world, such as the Holocaust, individuals have

experienced an increase of faith. This can act as further proof as to why religion is vitally

important to individuals. Religion is something many people cling on to, especially in the face of

death. Therefore, this unexpected impact of alienation on faith can be explained by historical and

statistical data.

Ignorance over the religion of Islam has contributed to Islamophobia, and thus the

alienation of Muslim individuals. Highly publicized extremist Muslim ideals have led Americans

to think the worst of any individual categorized as Muslim. A Pew Research Center Study found

that almost half of American adults (49%) think at least “some” Muslims in the United States are

anti-America, including 11%, who think “most” or “almost all” are anti-American (Kishi). A

similar survey found that 46% of Americans though Islam was more likely than other religions to

encourage violence (Kishi). A general attitude of intolerance and ignorance contribute to the

growth of islamophobia in the United States. In a nation that holds true to many Christian values,

there is a lack of education in different religions, especially Islam.


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In examining the argument that followers of the Islamic faith experience alienation that

impacts their life and faith, it may be argued that Muslims live in a way that separates them from

much of American society. Like any other religion, Islam calls its followers to conform to certain

beliefs that may not be aligned with the “normal” societal standards that have been established in

the United States. While some of the beliefs and customs may be different, that does not mean

that they are destructive. As a country that was formed on largely Christian ideals, it is hard for

many Americans to understand the ideas and beliefs behind different religions, and this has

become a source of the intolerance that afflicts the nation. A further education and

understanding of the distinct religions that make up the United States. Alienation due to the

Muslim religion can also be traced back to the terror attacks that have been committed against

the United States, such as the September 11 attack. A terroristic attack by any group is horrific,

and can cause suspicion and unease. However, it is important to recognize that any religious

group or organization will have extremists that do not properly represent the religion. For

example, the Army of God is a network of violent Christianists that openly promotes killing

abortion providers (Henderson). Members of the group have participated in terroristic attacks on

abortion clinics and doctors (Henderson). There are countless other extremists groups that

misrepresent the cause they originated from, yet they appear to be less publicized than Islamic

extremist groups, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The alienation that affects various members of the Islamic faith in the United States has a

negative impact on their daily lives, but has no significant impact on their faith. As a country that

boasts freedoms of all kinds, it is important to recognize the religious freedoms. To further

improve the United States as a nation, it would be valuable to promote religious tolerance
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through education on various belief systems. The highest result of education is tolerance, and

with tolerance, a more accepting world can be established.