On Monday, Harvard hosted a roundtable on the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric and sentiment in America. According to professor Ali Asani, Director of Harvard’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, this unfortunate attitude echoes a “deep polarization” between some Muslims and non-Muslims, one that is entrenched in religious illiteracy. “This religious illiteracy has created a breeding ground for fear, prejudice, and hatred that have been exploited for political gain by unscrupulous politicians and terrorist organizations both in Western and Muslim countries,” remarked the professor.
Lana Idris, a former president of the Harvard Islamic Society, commented that anti-Muslim sentiment is nothing new. “It’s existed for a very long time,” she said. “And like anti-blackness, it’s just becoming very highly visible now because we have social media and we have politicians banking on that right now. … I think it’s just important to know how we should engage when it isn’t at such a hypervisible level.”
Omar Khoshafa has worked with Muslim youth in Boston and said that the conflicts Muslims face today are prompting many “to see the struggles of others who came before us, like our fellow African-American brothers and sisters, and … to work at the grassroots together.”