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‘Working for The Common Good & Challenging Anti-Muslim Rhetoric’

‘Working for The Common Good & Challenging Anti-Muslim Rhetoric’

Organized by Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) & National Religious Campaign Against Torture on July 27,2016 at The Logan Hotel, Philadelphia

This event organized by ISNA was held in Philadelphia to coincide with the Democratic National Convention (DNC) along with interfaith friends in fellowship to talk about the challenges facing Muslims this election year. This gathering celebrated the fostering of inter-religious partnerships addressing a number of issues critical to the future of this country, both domestically and internationally. The palpable danger of proposals advocating the exclusion of Muslims and leading the nation away from achieving the Common Good and how anti-Muslim rhetoric makes America less safe, not more.

The discussion at this event brought to the forefront the importance of where we as a country go from here as a movement of people of faith and good will to challenge this ideology of exclusion.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Bail, author of award winning book Terrified is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke University. Bail earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2011.

Dr. Bail studies how non-profit organizations and other political actors shape public discourse by analyzing large groups of texts from newspapers, television, public opinion surveys, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Post 9/11 there still was a favorable sentiment towards Islam and Muslims, but the same did not come from the media outlets thus producing anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaigns.

Dr. Bail traces how the media’s emphasis on fringe messages and sensational issues produced a massive shift away from favorable views of Islam, to ones where Muslim Americans are viewed as harboring terrorists and supporting harsh Shariah law. Drawing on cultural sociology, social network theory, and social psychology, Bail shows how anti-Muslim organizations gained visibility in the public sphere, commandeered a sense of legitimacy, and redefined the contours of contemporary debate, shifting it ever outward toward the fringe. Terrified is one of the most advanced studies yet done on what shapes changes in public opinion and is one of the best studies of media impact in many years. His research has also been covered by major media outlets such as NBC News, National Public Radio, and the Washington Post.

Lessons to learn from the negative campaigns: as anti- Muslim rhetoric worsened, interfaith efforts grew and interfaith campaigns produced positive outcomes and messages. Hence we need to fight on the same battlefields by advancing interfaith campaigns through social media (twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Dr. Bail is currently conducting a study of how non-profit organizations reach new audiences on the Internet using a unique sample of groups recruited via Facebook.

Other Interfaith delegate speakers touched on:

  • Muslims are Speaking Out (MASO) was launched by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) led by Russel Simmons and Rabbi March Schneider. MASO is a national campaign aimed at combating anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia. One can advance this campaign by promoting it from their Facebook page as well as Twitter.
  • Marrakesh Declaration (January 2016, Morocco). The Marrakesh Declaration is a revival of the objectives and aims of the Charter of Medina, signed by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the people of Media 1,400 years ago. This charter guaranteed the religious liberty of all people regardless of faith. The Marrakesh Declaration is a statement by more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, heads of states, schools and muftis which defend the rights of religious minorities in predominately Muslim countries. This declaration was signed in response to the persecution of religious minorities by ISIS.
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    2016

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    New York, USA
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