The American Muslim Dilemma: Christian Normativity, Racialization, And Anti-Muslim Backlash



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This thesis investigates the continued hostilities and increasing backlash against the American Muslim community in the United States from a critical perspective that centralizes the racialization of Muslims and Muslim looking-people. The increasing anti-Muslim backlash against American Muslims warrants the need for a critical examination and analysis of the roots of this backlash and why, almost 11 years after September 11th, 2001, conditions for Muslims and Muslim looking-people are worsening. The term Islamophobia has been conceptualized and defined differently by various scholars, contributing to an analytical dilemma of how Muslims rationalize and resist anti-Muslim backlash. Therefore, the concept of racialization provides a fuller perspective and understanding as to why Muslim and non-Muslim Arabs, South Asians, and African Americans have been subjected to rising suspicion, surveillance, imprisonment, and violence in a post 9/11/2001 era.

This thesis posits the notion of the white Christian Normative, an inherent Christian bias embedded deep within the racialized social system of the United States. This Christian Normative has its roots in the colonial confrontation between European colonizers and Indigenous populations in what is now considered the United States and has maintained its significance in impacting the life chances of non-white non-Christian minorities ever since. This thesis argues that it is the Christian normative that drives and sustains the anti-Muslim backlash in the United States. The anti-Muslim backlash that is growing stronger in the United States is also theoretically conceptualized within this thesis. This thesis utilizes qualitative data collected from 23 in-depth interviews with Arab and South Asian American Muslim college students between the ages of 18 to 35 years from the Midwest as its empirical basis.