Islamophobia

Islamophobia has increasingly become weaponised by the far right and even within some mainstream political parties.

Islamophobia, recognised by most to be a form of racism or bigotry against Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims, is a rapidly growing phenomenon, threatening the cohesiveness of multicultural societies around the world.

Since its founding, ISD has produced research and initiatives not only identifying Islamophobia as a key component of the hate landscape, but has invested in initiatives and partnerships to help mitigate its impact.

In 2008, ISD helped launch the CEDAR Network, a pan-European network of Muslim professionals aimed at helping Muslim communities build confidence and resilience in the face of exclusion and mistrust. This was followed by a landmark study in 2010 documenting Islamophobic narratives, Muslims in the European Mediascape, and the European Muslim Women of Influence (EMWI) awards, which highlighted the contributions of Muslim women leaders.

In 2010, ISD also seeded the Phoenix Initiative, an “inter-community initiative for a new centre ground” that brought together leading Muslim and Jewish leaders and thinkers to bridge gaps within their communities to tackle some of the harder and more divisive social issues in a way that would avoid resorting to reactionary narratives.

In Kenya, we helped civil society organisations produce anti-Islamophobia campaigns during the 2017 elections, when divisions between Muslims and Christians were likely to be exploited, particularly against poorer Muslims on the east coast of Kenya. These campaigns are highlighted in the ISD report, Between Two Extremes.

In 2018, ISD tested the mapping of anti-Muslim hate online through proprietary technology produced in partnership with the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and in the State of Victoria, Australia. This mapping was able to provide hate speech data at a borough or neighbourhood level and is a model that can be used in any large city. Later that year, ISD provided evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims for a definition of Islamophobia that has since been adopted by most UK political parties.

Through initiatives supported by Google.org and others, such as the £1m Google Innovation Fund (2018) and the €10m Google Impact Challenge on Safety (2019), we have funded projects that have addressed anti-migrant and anti-Muslim attitudes in the UK and Europe. Virtual Inclusion, by the Open University, created three 10 minute 3D, multi-user VR experiences so that young people could experience first-hand the “lives” of people from socially excluded communities, such as Muslims and migrants. Who Do you Think We Are? by Brighter Futures was a series of podcasts created by and for young people that presented positive, varied and unexpected identities of young migrants, mainly Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East. And Remember Together, by British Future, highlighted Muslim WWI contribution as well as the relevance of WWI service and remembrance for Islam in Britain.

Also in 2019, ISD published Mapping Hate in France: A Panoramic View of Online Discourse, a data-driven overview of a variety of forms of hateful speech online in France that identified just under 7 million instances of online hateful speech against women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities; people with disabilities; and French Arab communities. This included approximately 131,000 instances of anti-Arab hateful speech.

Most recently, during the 2020 US election campaigns, we provided cutting edge research about online Islamophobic trends being used by political actors and disinformation agents, including the abuse of Muslim candidates for public office (as documented in the ISD report, Public Figures, Public Rage: Candidate abuse on social media). We also worked with a wide range of Muslim civil society organisations to help them defend against disinformation, cyber attacks, and abuse online.

CEDAR

Inaugural CEDAR Network gathering
Salzburg, Austria, September, 2008

Hate mapping

Mapping of anti-Muslim hate by borough
London, England, 2017

VR testing

Testing of a VR tool by Open University
that addresses anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant,
and racist bullying in schools, funded
through the Google Innovation Fund, 2018

Latest Polarisation and Hate Publications


Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Islamophobia and Hate Speech team

Rashad Ali
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Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

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Rashad Ali
Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

Rashad Ali is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD. Rashad is a counter terrorism practitioner who works on deradicalisation initiatives alongside Prisons, Probation Services, Police and community groups. He was formerly a national leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the revolutionary Islamist organisation and has been actively involved in undermining its extreme ideology and perversion of Muslim faith since his departure. As a researcher he has given testimony and contributed submissions to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Radicalisation, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Intelligence and has briefed the London Mayor's office on Counter Terrorism and has been consulted by think tanks and governments in Germany, Denmark, the EU and the US. He is an external lecturer for Derby University’s Master Class courses on Radicalisation and Counter Terrorism. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, Dissent Magazine, Birlingske in Denmark, Conservative Home, and given commentary for Newsnight, BBC News. He is the author of Islam, Shariah and the Far Right published by Demoqratiya journal, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism published by HJS and EFD, and the author of the ISD report Blasphemy, Charlie Hebdo, and the Freedom of Belief and Expression. He is classically trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence and Modern studies in Islam. He studied at al-Azhar University, Cairo, and the Markfield Institute.
Zahed Amanullah
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Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

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Zahed Amanullah
Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

Zahed Amanullah is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD, leading on ISD’s civil society engagement, communications, and partnerships, coordinating the public and private sectors with activists, frontline workers, and relevant civil society networks. He has worked closely with Google.org to support British and European civil society organisations through the Innovation Fund, the Shared Endeavour Fund, and the Google Impact Challenge on Safety. He has given testimony to the UK and European parliaments and has been featured at the BBC, NPR, Channel 4, Sky News, the Guardian, CNN International, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Newsweek, among others. He has co-authored the ISD reports The Impact of Counternarratives, Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections, and The Innovation Fund to Counter Hate and Extremism in the UK. He holds a BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a Diploma in Management from the University of Bath.
Milo Comerford
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Milo Comerford

Head of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

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Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Head of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

Milo Comerford is Senior Policy Manager at ISD, leading ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. He was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on Salafi-jihadi propaganda, international educational responses to extremism, and the transnational far right.His writing and research features frequently in international media and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera.
Jakob Guhl
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Jakob Guhl

Research Manager

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Jakob Guhl
Jakob Guhl

Research Manager

Jakob Guhl is a Manager at ISD, where he works within the Digital Research Unit and with ISD Germany. His research focuses on the far-right, Islamist extremism, hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories. He is a frequent commentator on German radio and broadcast, including Deutschlandfunk, Tagesthemen, NDR and Radio Eins. Jakob has been invited to present his research about online hate to the German Ministry of the Justice and provided evidence to the German Minister of the Interior and the German Family Minister on how to strengthen prevention against right-wing extremism and antisemitism. His research has been featured in Die Zeit, The Guardian, DW, The Telegraph, CNN, Euronews, Coda Story, Vice, Politico, New Republic and Die Welt, among others. Additionally, he has published articles in the “Journal for Deradicalisation”, “Demokratie gegen Menschenfeindlichkeit”, Taz, Der Standard, GNET and co-authored an essay for an edited volume of the Munich Residence Theatre about the origins of contemporary political anger. He is the co-author of ISD reports Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosting the ‘Holohoax’: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media, A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram and The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

Anisa Harrasy is a Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa Manager at ISD, where she works across the Strong Cities Network and Young Cities Sub Saharan Africa programming. This work entails designing and delivering project activities with both youth and local government stakeholders. The activities range from capacity building workshops, grant management and supporting locally-led PVE initiatives. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development and networking in Sub Saharan Africa and specialises in promoting peace in East Africa. She is the co-author of the ISD reports Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. Anisa holds an MA in International Security from the University of Sussex and a BA in International relations with Arabic. She is bilingual Swahili and English, with basic Arabic proficiency.
Amarnath Amarasingam
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Amarnath Amarasingam

Senior Research Fellow

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Amarnath Amarasingam
Amarnath Amarasingam

Senior Research Fellow

Amarnath Amarasingam is a Senior Research Fellow at ISD. He currently serves as Assistant Professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada and is an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The Atlantic, and Foreign Affairs. He has conducted over 50 interviews with former fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) throughout the former war zones of Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013. At the Turkey-Syria border, Amarasingam spoke with dozens of injured fighters, refugees, as well as former and current activists of the Syrian revolution. He has also conducted field research in Somalia, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and amongst different ethnic and religious groups in North America and Europe. As co-director of a study of Western foreign fighters in Syria, he has conducted dozens of interviews with jihadists in Syria and Iraq, supporters of jihadist movements online, as well as family members and friends of individuals who have joined the fight abroad. He is the author of Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada (2015) and the editor of Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Peace in the Aftermath of War (2016), The Stewart/Colbert Effect: Essays on the Real Impacts of Fake News (2011) and Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (2010). He is also co-author of the ISD reports No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe, An imprecise science: Assessing interventions for the prevention, disengagement and de-radicalisation of left and right-wing extremists, and “I Left to be Closer to Allah”: Learning about Foreign Fighters from Family and Friends.
Farah Pandith
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Farah Pandith

Senior Advisor

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Farah Pandith
Farah Pandith

Senior Advisor

Farah Pandith is a Senior Advisor at ISD. She is a world-leading expert and pioneer on countering violent extremism, having served as a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama administrations at the National Security Council, US Agency for International Development and US Department of State. Most recently she was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities (2009-2014). Farah is a senior fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She served on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council from 2015-2017 and is the author of "How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat."