Criminalizing Muslim Identity

The false association of terrorism and violence with Islam has grave consequences for the liberty interests of Muslims, and those perceived as such.  Surveillance, sting operations, targeted immigration enforcement, special registration, and immigration bans are among the myriad ways in which Muslim identity is effectively criminalized.

The criminalization of Muslim identity, unfortunately, is not the first time a minority group has been subjected to repression by the state on account of its racial and religious identity.

Racialized enforcement of criminal and national security laws has a sordid history in the United States.  African Americans and Native Americans suffered egregious civil and human rights violations as they were enslaved, forcibly evacuated from their land, lynched, segregated, and marginalized in our nation’s economy and political system.  Japanese Americans were interned, Chinese were excluded from entering the United States, and all Asians were denied the right to naturalize as U.S citizens.

Likewise, religious minorities have been persecuted based on false stereotypes that their beliefs were a threat to American values.  Catholics’ were presumed to be more loyal to the Pope than to the United States.  Jews were suspected of attempting to take over the country as part of a global conspiracy against Christians.  Buddhists were deemed godless heathens ineligible from attaining American citizenship.

The Criminalizing Muslim Identity project examines how Muslim identity is criminalized by law, policy, and societal norms with a focus on the structures adversely affecting religious and racial minorities.

Hate Crimes, Terrorism, and the Framing of White Supremacist Violence with Shirin Sinnar

Shining a Light on New Jersey’s Secret State Intelligence System
March 13, 2023
By: Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights

Civil liberties in the United States have been eroding for over two decades. Under the auspices of national security, federal agencies working with their state counterparts have built an expansive homeland security apparatus, facilitated by laws granting national security officials broader surveillance and investigative authorities. Prior to the attempted insurrection of January 6, 2021, national security powers nearly exclusively targeted Muslim and Arab communities.

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