Interfaith & Islamophobia
While interfaith relationships and dialogue are an important component to organizing for justice, there are many examples of when interfaith work has instead contributed otherwise, particularly around the issue of Islamophobia.
Interfaith dialogue tends to focus on interpersonal relationships, which is important but cannot ignore the work needed to dismantle oppression at a structural level. During a time of rising Islamophobia, it is important to not reduce it only to personal harassment or attacks on places of worship by individuals. Islamophobia is also a form of structural violence (e.q. economic, political, social, cultural, and historic) targeted at Muslim communities or those perceived as Muslim.
The War on Terror is an example of this state sanctioned Islamophobia. Abroad the War on Terror has involved the invasion, occupation, and/or bombing of seven Muslim majority countries and war crimes including the torture of Muslim prisoners. Domestically Muslims have been criminalized through Countering Violent Extremism programs and other polices such as FBI entrapment, preemptive prosecution, and surveillance.
Interfaith work that seeks to place the burden on Muslims to prove themselves as peaceful and “good” feeds directly into the Islamophobic narrative that extremism among Muslim communities is due to religious and cultural reasons rather than political realities that include U.S. wars and exploitation. Interfaith groups need to be dedicated to doing anti Islamophobia work that not only protects their Muslim partners from personal and community attacks but also dismantles the structural Islamophobia that has dehumanized Muslims, which is the justification for anti Muslim bigotry, physical harassment, and US policies.
Read “Negotiating Alliances in the Age of Islamophobia” to learn more.