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US University Examines Trump’s Effects on Muslims

DETROIT — Wayne State University’s Department of Communication in the US has launched a research project to examine the effects of the Trump administration on North American Muslims, Arab American News reported.

“As I developed this project the Trump campaign came along. It kind of just fell into my lap to then ask more specifically, in this moment of heightened concern, particularly for people who claim that as part of their identity, what does that mean?” said Dr. Stine Eckert of WSU’s journalism program, a former Al Jazeera producer.

At the presentation of the project research, kicked off on November 27, Eckert introduced three doctoral candidates and contributors to the studies, Jade Metzger-Riftkin, Sydney O’Shay-Wallace and Sean Kolhoff of the Department of Communications.

“The previous studies incited an interest in Muslim identity; and though many studies based in number-based research found how Islamophobic rhetoric causes an increase in hate crimes, we wanted research based in conversation,” Eckert addressed the guests.

She said the study covered the time period of the latter half of the Trump campaign, the election season, before his inauguration and into the first 100 days of his presidency.

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“Arguably 2016 was a new sad peak of Islamophobia a decade after 9/11. We covered this entire time. We were especially asking, ‘what does that experience look like?’ When this experience happens, what do you do? And what does that look like, face-to-face and online?” the professor said.

Significant Results

Eckert said around two thirds of participants were between the ages of 18-23, but did reach to mid-50s, and were “from different backgrounds, including people from Lebanon, Bosnia, Europe, and many others.”

While talking about the study’s findings, Kolhoff informed that “responses to Islamophobia were directly related to how people experienced instances of Islamophobia. Unfortunately, we had a wide array of experiences people could have, ranging from micro-aggressions all the way to blatant acts of racism.”

According to Kolhoff, participants sometimes talked about going back and educating others, trying to do what they can to change non-Muslims’ perceptions of who Muslims are.

Moreover, Metzger-Riftkin said about 75% of participants reported “consistent experiences of Islamophobia online”.

She also stated that participants reported educating, ignoring comments or avoiding certain social media platforms they thought contained more hate speech.

Regarding other data, O’Shay-Wallace said the first survey found Muslim women are less likely to engage in self-disclosure online, while converted Muslims were more likely to engage in such disclosure.

“Overall, this preliminary study found Facebook was the most-reported used social media platform for Muslims at 51%. Participants rated Instagram as second, Twitter third and Snapchat fourth,” she informed.