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Stanford Univ. Introduces First Course on Islamophobia

In an effort to explore Islamophobia and its manifestations, the University of Stanford is offering the first ever course on Islamophobia, to spark dialogue and expand students’ understanding of the topic.

The new ‘CSRE 30: Interrogating Islamophobia’ course is taught by Abiya Ahmed, the Markaz Resource Center Associate Dean and Director, The Stanford Daily reported.

“I could throw statistics at you and say ‘last year X number of Islamophobic acts or hate crimes or whatever occurred,’ but part of what we’re trying to do in the course is trying to expand how we understand Islamophobia,” Ahmed said.

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The class aims to “interrogate” Islamophobia by exploring it through a variety of angles. Each week will see discussions of a different topic from Islamophobia as a phobia to manifestations of Islamophobia on the left and right sides of the political spectrum. 

“We’re trying to understand what are all the different ways in which you can think about Islamophobia and how Islamophobia actually manifests, whether it’s explicit, like hate crimes and verbal abuse, or more systemic things like the Muslim ban that Trump tried to pass,” Yusuf Zahurullah ’24, the Teaching Fellow for the course, said.

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Zahurullah hopes the class sparks dialogue on the history of Islamophobic incidents on Stanford campus. 

“There are certain political groups on campus, namely Stanford College Republicans, who in years past have brought in very Islamophobic speakers,” Zahurullah said.

“It’s a lot of like institutional things where it’s like, why is the school allowing this to happen?” 

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Ahmed also hopes that class would help students understand both the concept and the practice of Islamophobia. 

“It’s a complex and nuanced phenomenon in the US both conceptually and in practice as a lived thing,” Ahmed said.

“Acknowledging that would help us counter it better.”

Islamophobia, defined as the dislike of, or prejudice against, Islam or Muslims, remains a prevalent problem in the US.

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According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States skyrocketed immediately after September 11, 2001, and are still on an upward trend.

Earlier this year, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a 9% increase in the number of civil rights complaints it received from Muslims in the United States since 2020.

Titled “Still Suspect: The Impact of Structural Islamophobia,” the report detailed more than 6,700 civil rights complaints the Washington, DC, based group received in the past year.