Date of Graduation

Winter 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Rabia Kamal


In recent years, Islamophobia in the United States has risen to levels never seen before. While 2016 marks the 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, hatred and fear of Muslims and Islam has reached an all-time high instead of steadily decreasing. The rise in Islamophobia is due in large part to the news coverage that people are exposed to, with media stories on terrorist attacks often conflating Islam and violence in both subtle and other ways. Furthermore, we see that similar coverage of acts of violence committed by non-Muslims is often markedly different, both in tone and language. Through American news coverage, Muslims have become the “other,” something that is proving problematic in how Americans see and portray Muslims both domestically and internationally.

Another media form that has also played a crucial role in the spread of Islamophobia is social media. The use of hashtags that promote negative views of Islam and Muslims have risen in the last five years. The use of Facebook profile filters has also called into question who deserves solidarity and sympathy, often marginalizing Muslim countries and lives. So far, use of the filter has favored Western nations effected by terrorism, yet there are many Muslim-majority countries that face terrorism as well. Muslims have begun to learn how to combat the use of negative hashtags by creating their own; turning these hashtags into responses that find humor and that challenge incorrect or ignorant ideas of their religion. They have also used their social media platforms to protest Facebook’s “selective mourning” through national profile filters.

More importantly, Islamophobia has had deep consequences and effects in people’s day-to-day lives. This research seeks to show how Islamophobia impacts people from various walks of life and how it is crucial to continue to understand and challenge it.