Diversity and Engagement Initiatives for Muslim Americans: Still Not Enough!

By/ Ahmed Al-Gaisi

  • | Friday, 16 December, 2022
Diversity and Engagement Initiatives for Muslim Americans: Still Not Enough!

    Integration initiatives that have aimed at having Muslim Americans more included in the US whether officially, commercially or individually are diverse. For example, the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project launched in 2008 has a bi-function: it attempts to introduce new approaches for achieving the American interests and aims to mitigate tensions with Muslims around the world at the same time. 
    Along the same line, modelled on the Muslim female fencer who won a bronze medal in Rio in 2016, the first Muslim Barbie doll was launched in 2017. Furthermore, Nike launched the Pro Hijab product to solve female athletes’ problems with wearing traditional hijab. Additionally, some universities, such as the University of Georgia and the University of Southern California, adjust dinning hours or provide meals in boxes to meet the fasting hours of Muslim students in Ramadan. Similarly, some universities increase the number of reflection spaces to facilitate the observation of prayers, like the Ohio State University. More recently, Hollywood put out products that represent Muslim characters such as, Hulu’s Ramy and Netflix’s Mo. Muslims themselves launch initiatives to make Americans learn about Islam and its rituals, including Visit My Mosque and Inclusive Mosque Initiatives.
    A lot of these initiatives were adopted when islamophobia occurred as a socio-religious problem; they represent a momentary problem-solving method. Moreover, some deep-rooted islamophobic problems are caused by official legislations passed in the wake of 9/11 attacks, such as the USA PATRIOT Act,  Special Registration and Trump’s calls for barring Muslims from entering the U.S in 2015. Thus, these efforts need to be reviewed as islamophobia and hate crimes are still on the increase and endanger many good Muslims in the US, whether through hateful rhetoric or violent actions.
    Among others, a dual process can be suggested for tackling the problem; at the social level, Muslim individuals and scholars are urgently asked to introduce Islam to the American society through the initiative-and-practice perspective. Second, at the legislative level, Muslim representatives as new lawmakers, who achieved a historic victory in the recent midterm elections, bear a greater portion of the burden of correcting the status quo as voters had been expecting. 
    Having instilled in the minds that the primary aim of an initiative is not to convert someone to Islam or vice-versa, it should rightly be clear that diversity involves differences not conflicts, for we are all different by nature. The point is how to implement such differences positively to get social harmony achieved and to obtain a proper understanding of peaceful coexistence terminology like ‘peace building’ and ‘unity in diversity’.

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