||Within only one year after the terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001, an estimated 100.000 Muslims, predominantly non-white Arabs, had been personally affected by the American government’s “domestic legislative, administrative, and judicial measures”. This institutionalization of Islamophobia against Muslim Americans by government policies has been accentuated by media coverage depicting Muslims as one
monolithic and essentialist religious group which has resonated in public perceptions. On top of this, miseducation of the public about Middle Eastern and Islamic history and the reality of Islamic practices in America have magnified the perception of mosques and Islamic centers as enclosed breeding grounds for Islamic radicalism. However, increasingly marginalized in American society, Muslims have turned to their local mosques and Islamic centers for protection, evolving their role as simple worship places into educational, gathering, and social spaces, giving these centers a central role in their lives. Hence, this thesis argues that as 9/11 triggered a spike of
Islamophobia accompanied by racially motivated aggression, Islamic centers and organizations took it upon themselves to mobilize their communities against the sources of prejudice faced by Muslim Americans, refocusing their efforts on education, interfaith encounters, and community building while
calling for increased integration efforts. Using interviews with the leadership of several Islamic centers, this thesis highlights the change in the approach on how to tackle Islamophobia that came with 9/11, as well as the perceived effectiveness of these initiatives.