Islamophobia Has Grave Physical, Mental Health Consequences: US Report

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 A system of discrimination can lead to differential access to fundamental determinants of health such as education and employment. Moreover, when people are targeted based on their identity, the persistent exposure to discrimination has a pervasive, negative effect on health. Image credit: Al Jazeera
A system of discrimination can lead to differential access to fundamental determinants of health such as education and employment. Moreover, when people are targeted based on their identity, the persistent exposure to discrimination has a pervasive, negative effect on health. Image credit: Al Jazeera

Islamophobia is deeply institutionalized. Americans are exposed to political campaigns, news coverage and movies that portray Muslims as outsiders and villains. One study found that the coverage of Islam and Muslims in The New York Times was more negative than the coverage of cancer, alcohol and cocaine

WASHINGTON (IINA) – Islamophobia  is widespread in the United State of America and has grave physical and mental health consequences for Muslims in the U.S, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. 

“It is a public health issue. Yet, research on the health implications of this is understudied and often ignored by the masses. In the 15 years that have followed the Sept. 11 attacks, many Muslim or Middle Eastern Americans have been repeatedly exposed to hate and discrimination in the U.S. A system of discrimination can lead to differential access to fundamental determinants of health such as education and employment. Moreover, when people are targeted based on their identity, the persistent exposure to discrimination has a pervasive, negative effect on health,” it said.

“Being a victim of Islamophobia can be traumatizing, with severe and lasting health impacts.
The unfounded hatred of Islam or stigmatization, fear and dislike of Muslims rose to 67 percent in 2015, the highest it has ever been. Right after 9/11, unfavorable attitudes toward Muslims were at 60 percent. In fact, hate speech and crimes against Muslim Americans tripled after the San Bernardino and Paris attacks.”

“Muslim Americans have been harassed on college campuses, they have lost jobs, mosques have been vandalized, Muslim charities have had their assets frozen, and racial profiling has occurred at airports and on the streets. Muslims are often represented as coming from non-white groups, so their religious identity is linked with racial identity. In reality, Muslim Americans include many nationalities and racial categories, including black and white, and anyone who appears Muslim-like, Sikhs and many non-Muslim Arab, Iranian and Indian Americans.”

“Unfortunately, Islamophobia is deeply institutionalized. Americans are exposed to political campaigns, news coverage and movies that portray Muslims as outsiders and villains. One study found that the coverage of Islam and Muslims in The New York Times was more negative than the coverage of cancer, alcohol and cocaine. Structural forms of discrimination, forms such as media coverage or political campaigns that call for a ban on Muslims, help normalize discriminatory attitudes and create the institutional system of discrimination.”

“Discrimination against Muslim Americans has been linked to paranoia, psychological distress and reduced happiness as well as high cholesterol, obesity and other health problems.
Another study finds that a lack of social support leads to depression for Arab Muslim immigrant women. Islamophobia also prevents Muslim Americans from seeking health care, resulting in more late-stage cancer diagnoses.”

“Reversing the trend of Islamophobia in the U.S. will be a long-term task. For that, it must better understand how the social climate of Islamophobia takes a toll on the health of Americans. By addressing Islamophobia as a public health issue, we can condemn hateful ideology and actions against Muslim and Muslim-like Americans while meeting an objective goal of health as a fundamental human right for all.”

“Health professionals should be aware of these discriminatory barriers that patients face when receiving care and their own implicit bias when they deliver care. Media coverage should reflect the diversity of the American Muslim population and shift the dialogue away from illness-inducing stereotypes. And lawmakers must realize that policies that single out and discriminate against Muslims make Americans sick.”

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