Islamophobia is “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam” (Merriam-Webster). Islamophobia is a form of racism that has grown worse over time, especially after Islamist terrorist attacks. Many of those who fear the religion or harm Muslims because of their beliefs don’t understand or try to understand Islam. A religion is a religion. We all have something we believe or don’t believe in. Just because someone is part of a religious community in which a few extreme members have committed harmful acts doesn’t make all Muslims dangerous. In order for students to grow up and understand this concept, teachers should provide students with resources that encourage them to learn about Islam and accept Muslims, and others of different religious backgrounds, in society.
There are many resources available on the internet for teachers to use when teaching their class about Islamophobia. They’re not as hard to find as you might think!
- Countering Islamophobia: Teaching Tolerance published a lesson plan for high schoolers which “explores, confronts and seeks to deconstruct stereotypes and fears targeted at Muslims. In small groups, students will analyze myths and misconceptions about Muslims. They will also understand the meaning of Islamophobia and its effects on Muslims, watch a video to understand the impact of Islamophobia and create an anti-Islamophobia campaign to display in school.” The lesson provides objectives, enduring understandings, essential questions, a material list, vocabulary, a procedure for a warm-up and main activity, external resources, and more for teachers to use in the classroom.
- Toolkit for “Expelling Islamophobia”: Teaching Tolerance features a lesson plan which “outlines a six-step lesson plan using the short film American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction. The purpose is to foster all students’ religious literacy and improve school climate for Muslim students and other vulnerable student groups.” The lesson provides an introduction, essential questions, a procedure, vocabulary, and an extension. The main goal of this toolkit is to get students talking about Islamophobia and the facts about Islam in a productive way and inclusive setting.
- Challenge Islamophobia Project: Teaching For Change provides four lessons about Islamophobia: What is Islamophobia? Interpersonal vs. Structural Discrimination, Black Muslims in the United States: An Introductory Activity, American Hate: Lessons from Survivors, and Black Athlete Protest: The Case of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. These lessons, rather than teaching a person about Islam, discuss the causes of Islamophobia. “…the lessons teach all of us to rethink what we know about the history of Muslims in the U.S., including the fact that Islamophobia is rooted in a history of racism and empire.”
- Expelling Islamophobia: Teaching Tolerance published an article about fighting against Islamophobia using more than anti-hate and anti-bullying policies. This resource covers integrating Islam into the classroom, the policy and climate of schools, and religious literacy vs. Islamophobia. Overall, the main concept students can take away from this article is regarding how Muslim students are treated in their schools because of their beliefs. This piece can be used to start a classroom discussion or to supplement other lesson plans about Islamophobia.
- Islamophobia: The American Psychological Association features an article about the impact of anti-Muslim sentiment and ways to prevent it. This article discusses how anti-Muslim discrimination hurts Muslims and U.S. employers along with how psychologists, the media, educators, and peers can help take action against this discrimination. This resource is extremely informative and will be important for students to read in order for them to understand that Islamophobia is not warranted and it severely impacts their fellow Muslim students and their families.
- Islamophobia is on the rise. This is how we can tackle it: This article, which was published by the World Economic Forum, talks about the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. The authors discuss their findings in eight countries where they examined the most common Islamophobic ideas and many good examples of counteracting Islamophobia. By the end of this article, students will have a few more ideas of how Muslims are perceived in Europe based on their religious practices and beliefs.
- CAIR: This informational site provides featured articles, information on Islamophobic organizations and individuals, anti prejudice tools, the number of anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017, civil rights data in 2017, and other reports to further the public’s understanding on the gravity of Islamophobia, especially in the U.S. This website is easy to navigate and perfect for students to use for a webquest or for research.
- Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West: This site thoroughly explains Islamophobia and its rise after 9/11, respect and fair treatment for Muslims, and information and statistics on prejudice against Muslims. This source is very informative and goes through various data about how Muslims are treated, how Americans perceive Muslims, etc. This information given is probably a bit dense for elementary and young middle school students, but it is appropriate for older middle school and high school students.
- What is Islamophobia?: This informational site breaks down the term “Islamophobia” and the history behind it. Charter for Compassion provides an Islamophobia Guidebook that touches upon many aspects of Islamophobia and events that have occurred involving anti-Muslim sentiment.
Islamophobia is on the rise, and without action, it will continue to become more of a problem. In order for us to tackle Islamophobia, we need to understand it and the causes behind this religious discrimination. Teaching students about Islamophobia is an important measure to take to ultimately counteract it.
- Instead Of Islamophobia, We Should Focus On Defining Anti-Muslim Hatred: Forbes published an article talking about the need for a narrower definition of “Anti-Muslim Hatred” rather than the term “Islamophobia.” This resource breaks down the causes of anti-Muslim hatred and recent hate crimes committed. Students and educators alike will benefit from this article.
- Islamophobia is racism: This WordPress site provides a lengthy syllabus on Islamophobia, which can be split up into six main themes: Race, Empire and Islam, the Production and Reproduction of Anti-Muslim Racism, the Impact of Anti-Muslim Racism, Policing, Security and Anti-Muslim Racism, Resisting Anti-Muslim Racism, and Further Reading and Resources. Within each of these topics, resources, including articles, papers, videos, documentaries, and more are linked to subtopics!