The solution to combating the complex problem of Islamophobia lies as much with Muslim-American communities and popular media as government officials and think tanks, a group of experts said Monday.
The progressive Center for American Progress hosted a discussion on the topic as part of an effort to separate real from perceived threats, moderator Faiz Shakir said.
Shakir, a vice president at the think tank, said a dearth of interaction between U.S. Muslims and other demographic groups has allowed paranoia and a politicized anti-Islamic narrative to fill the void in the public’s knowledge about one of the world’s great religions. The Muslim-American community has a major role to play in clearing up widespread misconceptions that have arisen, panelists said.
“One of the most fascinating statistics, which I’m always amazed by . . . is that 50-60 percent of Americans don’t know a Muslim,” said Wajahat Ali, an author and attorney. “They don’t have a Muslim friend they don’t have any Muslim they can talk to about Islam.”