Violence Against American Muslims

August 19, 2022

In 2017, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research Adnan Hyder researched the nature and type of violence experienced by American Muslims in the United States.   

The project had three goals: 

  • To document the nature, types and forms of interpersonal stranger violence and politically motivated violence on American Muslims;  
  • To understand the mechanisms used by American Muslims to cope with the violent threats and incidents; and  
  • To clarify how such violence has led American Muslims to change their health and social behaviors.  

The team conducted key informant interviews with leaders of community-based Muslim organizations in the Baltimore-Washington DC area. These interviews uncovered areas of concern and informed the questions asked in the focus group discussions that followed. They also conducted in-depth interviews with 37 American Muslim men and women, focusing on individual experiences of interpersonal stranger violence and coping mechanisms.  

 The following was shared: 

  • Experiences of violence included various forms – mental, physical, verbal and structural. 
  • Individuals across age and ethnic backgrounds reported discrimination and bias in a range of settings - schools, college campuses, airport, workplaces, malls and in the community. 
  • The media coverage of the 2016 presidential election and the widespread anti-Islam rhetoric made respondents feel unsafe. 
  • Some coped by being cautious when not in the safety of their own homes and paying attention to what they wore. Engagement in local Muslim communities and reaching out to their Muslim brothers and sisters was another common coping mechanism. 

This was one of the first studies to directly examine the impact of interpersonal stranger violence on this specific religious minority community in the U.S.  

The findings were published in Global Bioethics in 2019. Professor Hyder is now on the faculty of George Washington University. 


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