A new effort is underway to counter Islamphobia in the United States.
The Muslim Power Building Project (MPBP) is a collaborative, social justice-oriented effort among Muslim organizations nationwide to strengthen the Muslim American community.
Faith in Action, LA Voice, The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), MPower Change, and Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) recently launched the project
According to the Wisconsin Muslim Journal, “The goal of the project is to harness the strengths and resources of these organizations to facilitate a comprehensive community-organizing and leadership development program for Muslims nationwide”.
Muslim Americans face many challenges similar to those that people of color in the U.S. experience, reports the LA Voice.
Poverty and religious discrimination, inextricably linked, are challenges that plague Muslim American communities.
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) finds that Muslim Americans is the largest religious community to report low incomes — 35% claiming to make less than $30,000 per household.
Likewise, 43% of Muslim Americans claim to have experienced at least one act of discrimination in 2011, as surveyed by the Pew Research Center.
Although Islamophobia has been continuously pervasive across the United States, anti-Muslim sentiment has become even more prominent. With President Trump’s Muslim Ban being upheld by the Supreme Court, it is clear that this animosity will continue with more anti-Muslim rhetoric, hate crimes, and other various forms of racism.
That is why the work of the MPBP is now more important than ever. Building organizational capacity will not only generate a stronger, more resilient Muslim community, but will also strengthen solidarity between communities of different faiths and secular communities.
“Ultimately, MPBP is about building power by equipping organizers with skills and guidance to lead in their own communities and contribute to a larger, shared vision of what it means to be Muslim in America” states Sara Hamdan, a Palestinian Chicago-native involved in IMAN.
Right media outlets are already attacking the project. Tim Brown, an author and editor at Freedom Outpost, a popular Conservative online news publication that intends to debunk “liberal media”, wrote an article responding to a press release for the MPBP. His piece express his disdain for the project’s vision, denouncing Islam’s religious credibility.
Referring to Muslims, Brown states that “These people are seeking to empower themselves while promoting a false god and false religion and political system, which is what Islam is”.
Pamela Geller, the founder, and editor of the Geller Report, expands on similar points made by Brown, claiming that “These groups use the language of the left, of “empowerment”, and yet Islam only disempowers women and other groups. And they claim that Muslims are victims of “Islamophobia,”but whenever Muslims have attained political power anywhere in the world, they oppress non-Muslims, women, gays, etc”.
Regardless of the political backlash, participants in MPBP hope that their project sparks productive dialogue between Islam communities and Americans who are misinformed about Islam.
Amanda Ali, a 23-year old UW graduate student, is taking part in the project.
“This project is lifting Muslim organizers up and saying we can create the world as it should be with more love, compassion, equality and justice for all,” she told the Wisconsin Muslim Journal
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