IN THIS SECTION, WE SEEK to contextualize anti-Sharia legislation within a broader framework of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the US.  The rise of the anti-Sharia movement, and the creation of ALAC, is situated within this context of Islamophobia, highlighting the role of anti-Muslim sentiment in setting the foundations for the introduction and enactment of anti-Sharia legislation in the US. Finally, the negative impacts of this discriminatory legislation in undermining constitutional rights, and affecting not just Muslim Americans, but the very fabric of American society, are exemplified.

The Rise of Anti-Muslim Sentiment

The inception of the anti-Sharia movement in the US did not emerge within a vacuum. Rather, it was the outcome of a series of interconnected political events, initiatives, shifting public sentiment, and targeted rhetoric. The current political debates that depict Muslims as “others” who do not belong in “our” society, are not isolated instances, nor are they new, but rather, are part of a historical rhetoric rooted in the demonization of Islam and Muslims that pre-dates20 the tragedy of 9/11.21 In a widely circulated article in the Atlantic Monthly from 1990, Bernard Lewis wrote about what he viewed to be “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” offering an analysis of the perceived conflict between “Islam” and “the West,” framing this relationship as a “clash of civilizations.”22 Lewis’ analysis assumes a position that both Islam and “the West” constitute monolithic social, political, and cultural entities. Lewis presented an “us vs. them” dichotomy for Islamophobic rhetoric to be normalized in the US political discourse post-9/11, creating a platform from which Islamophobia has risen to its current state. His article set the stage for a “clash of civilizations” narrative that has since been seized by academics, notably Samuel Huntington,23 media pundits like Bill Maher24 and Bill O’Reilly,25 legislators such as Congressman Peter King,26 political figures such as Ben Carson,27 and demagogues such as Donald Trump.

Read the full article about the impacts of Islamophobia on American society by the team at Othering & Belonging Institute.