Cornell Study Highlights Need for MPAC’s
Counter-Islamophobia Campaign

Los Angeles, CA: The Muslim Public Affairs Council commends the UN General Assembly for adopting a resolution earlier this week which calls for all 151 member states to cooperate with the UN Commission on Human Rights to eliminate the growing new trends in racial and religious discrimination, says an MPAC email message. It adds:

The resolution comes in the wake of two significant events in recent weeks, namely a historic seminar hosted by the UN on “Combatting Islamophobia” and the release of a Cornell study which found that nearly half of Americans believe that the civil liberties of American Muslims should be restricted. While media reports and recently released FBI statistics on hate crimes have projected anti-Muslim bias as a dwindling post-9/11 phenomena, the Cornell study casts light on the genuine fear of Islam and Muslims.

The study’s findings only confirm what leading academics presented at the UN Seminar on Islamophobia earlier this month - that Islam and Muslims by and large remain misunderstood, which results in fear and alienation.

“The Christian West has feared Islam both religiously and politically,” said Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University and keynote speaker at the seminar. “Today, the paradox of Islamophobia remains that many people afraid of Islam know very little about it. They feel a great need to see ‘the other’ as the enemy.”

University of Richmond Law Professor Aziza Al-Hibri explained the history of Islam and Islamophobia in this country runs deep, a fact reflected in the history of enslaved African Muslims who did not benefit from the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion, despite the essential role they played in building this country. In her remarks, Dr. Al-Hibri called for mainstreaming American Muslims and giving them their proper place at the table so that their authentic voices can be heard in every aspect of our society, particularly policy-making and education. Asma Gull Hasan, author of “Why I Am a Muslim,” pointed to the need for education about Islam even among Muslims.

During his address, Secretary General Kofi Annan said efforts to combat Islamophobia require a delineation between politically- and religiously- motivated violence.
“Islam should not be judged by the acts of extremists who deliberately target and kill civilians,” Annan told an audience of o scholars, senior United Nations officials, and representatives from civil society organizations. “The few give a bad name to the many, and this is unfair.”

Last weekend, during a national convention on “Countering Religious and Political Extremism,” MPAC officials discussed their ongoing efforts to address Islamophobia and distributed copies of a new publication entitled “Counterproductive Counterterrorism: How Anti-Islamic Rhetoric is Impeding America’s Homeland Security.” The paper, which seeks to expose profiteers who seek to alienate American Muslims from the fabric of our pluralistic society, is a supplement to MPAC’s ongoing Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism and Hate Crimes. Both the paper and Anti-Terrorism Campaign handbook are available by contacting MPAC.
[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443, communications@mpac.org]


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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