Date of this Version
Published in The Routledge International Handbook of Islamophobia, edited by Irene Zempi and Imran Awan (Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2019), pp 298–309.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has grown in scale and visibility far beyond its association with the horrific attacks of 2001. The US government’s “War on Terror,” which began after the attacks, often pervades the domestic landscape as a war on Islamic religious “extremism.” The definitions and content of such religious extremism are so extensive that they encompass large numbers of Muslims, and they highlight Muslims as being inherently problematic. For example, the success of the 2016 presidential campaign can be said to have relied significantly on a right-wing Islamophobic fear-mongering that shariah was set to take over the US. As we grappled with the writing of this chapter about Islamophobia in US education, it became clear to us that the work that educators do daily in schools, colleges, and universities cannot be separated from a politics that undermines democratic and pluralistic values. Our chapter aims to examine current political and policy practices that are ultimately eroding a long-held and highly valued goal of “education for all.” In the first part of the chapter, we explain how “Islamophobia” has become a social fact of school life for many young people in US public schools. We then present an analysis of the Islamophobia as politically situated in higher education settings. Throughout the chapter, we offer ideas for curbing and ultimately eradicating an Islamophobia that is toxic to the educational aims of the United States.
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