New survey shows Muslim women disproportionately impacted by Islamophobia, while nearly all Muslims experienced emotional impacts.
BERKELEY: More than two-thirds of US Muslims report having experienced Islamophobia in their lifetimes, with women being significantly more likely than men to say so, a new survey released Wednesday by UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute reveals.
In total, 67.5 percent of respondents answered that they had personally experienced Islamophobia in their lifetimes, including 76.7 percent of women, and 58.6 percent of men.
And while just over two-thirds say they have personally experienced Islamophobia, an overwhelming 93.7 percent of respondents said that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being.
"This may suggest that even if a Muslim is not directly targeted by an Islamophobic act, the ubiquity of Islamophobia in our media and culture after 9/11 has created an atmosphere in which Muslims feel they are being monitored, judged, or excluded in some form," said Elsadig Elsheikh," the director of the Institute's Global Justice program, which conducted the study.
"As our survey demonstrates, Islamophobia has deep implications for how US Muslims engage with society, and the barriers they face to achieve belonging," he added.
The survey, conducted two decades after the 9/11 attacks which led to a surge of hate crimes and prompted government policies targeting Muslims, provides insight into the experiences, lived realities, and psychological impacts of Islamophobia on millions of this country's residents.
The survey included the participation of 1,123 Muslims, roughly half women and half men, who live and/or work in the United States, both citizens and non-citizens. They include Muslims of various ages, national and ethnic backgrounds, and educational levels. It includes more than 60 questions.
With an estimated US Muslim population of about 3.5 million, the participants' sample size gives the survey a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
The survey asked about experiences with Islamophobia vis-à-vis both the state (as in official government measures) and society (as in Islamophobic acts carried out by members of the public).
Significantly, almost two-thirds of the respondents (62.7 percent) responded that they had either personally experienced or know someone who had been affected by federal and/or state policies targeting Muslims.
Such policies could include things like anti-Sharia legislation adopted by some state legislatures, or the slate of anti-Muslim federal policies like registries, surveillance programs, or Donald Trump's infamous Travel Ban (AKA the Muslim Ban) adopted in the months and years following 9/11.
Roughly one-third (32.9 percent) of the respondents admitted to hiding their religious identity at some point in their lives, while 88.2 percent answered that they censor their speech or actions due to fear of how people might react. Youth aged 18-29 were more likely than any other age group to have hidden their religious identity, at 44.6 percent.
Despite this, Muslims mostly (72.9 percent) describe their everyday interactions with non-Muslims as friendly, while 79.4 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that Islamic values are consistent with US values.
Nearly all (99.1 percent) regard the diversity of culture in America as a good thing, while 99 percent said they believe all races and ethnicities should be treated equally. Consistent with these expressions of wanting to be included, 93.7 percent responded that it was important for them that their children be accepted as Americans.
"The news is not all bad," said Basima Sisemore, a researcher with the institute's Global Justice program who co-authored the study. "One of the uplifting findings of our survey is that despite a general climate of hostility, Muslims overwhelmingly express a desire to belong, regularly interact with non-Muslims, and believe in the ideals of pluralism and equality."
"The challenge before us now is to actually create the conditions that foster and strengthen social bonds and disrupt the structures that support Islamophobia to help us reach that ever-elusive goal," she added.