Islam has a centuries long tradition of inspiring its adherents to contribute to humanity based on conviction in its tenets. Previous generations of Muslims were on the forefront of contributing to medicine, philosophy, architecture, and governance among other areas. With the rise of Islamophobia, Islam has been cast as irrational, incompatible with modern civilization, and inherently violent. This has put Western Muslims in a defensive position in which they constantly have to justify their convictions, and fight off the doubts and insecurities that arise in such a climate. One of the most understudied and underestimated impacts of Islamophobia is the ingestion of problematic notions about the religion by Muslims themselves, particularly those of the younger generation who are experiencing multiple attacks against their faith. This paper documents the harmful effects of Islamophobic rhetoric on the religious identity and perceptions of Muslim youth in an urban American setting. Using qualitative interviews and expert analysis, it also explores solutions for how to counter Islamophobic narratives.
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