It is critical to call out demagogues and bigots and to hold them accountable to their Islamophobic statements. It is equally critical to highlight the peacemakers and the bridge builders. The latter might sound a bit naïve in the context of this presidential election cycle, but for many American Muslim citizens and communities, public acts of solidarity are profoundly meaningful.

Why?

American Muslims have been forced to defend their faith and civil liberties, facing a candle burning at both ends with Islamophobes’ bias and hate speech on one side and violent extremists who claim to represent Islam on the other. They endure near daily assaults on both their religion and their bodies. According to a recent poll released by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), more than half of American Muslims have reported experiencing discrimination within the past year because of their religion. Eighteen percent report that they experience discrimination regularly – the highest of any faith group.

Positive portrayals of Islam and Muslims are needed now more than ever. We need more stories like the one in which little Jack Swanson donated his piggybank savings to a local mosque that had been vandalized, the U.S. Service Members on social media who promised 8-year old Sofia that they will protect her, and Olympic hijabi athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad who will represent Team USA in Rio this summer. Such stories are all testaments to their dignity, equality and rightful place in the American mosaic. They demonstrate and affirm that American Muslims matter, and that the anti-Muslim narrative we see today is unacceptable and un-American. Continue Reading

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