As a Muslim living in the West, Islamophobia is a defining element of Senior Fellow Mohamed Taguine’s social and political experience. At his university, The Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), Mohamed and a group of his peers founded “Salaam,” the first French Muslim student association of its kind. Through the organization of lectures and interfaith events, they have been able to educate the public about the Muslim faith and break down some stereotypes.
Having later spent some time in the United Kingdom and the United States, in particular through Humanity in Action’s John Lewis Fellowship, Mohamed was exposed to different approaches to fighting Islamophobia. As a volunteer with the Council on American Islamic Relations in New York (CAIR), he witnessed how the organization addressed issues around Islamophobia holistically, dealing with its political, social, cultural and even international dimensions.
Islamophobia has become a defining element of the experiences of Muslims living in the West. While it is in its nature a transnational phenomenon, which increased in the post 9/11 context, the response to it has largely remained local.
Through the organization of lectures and interfaith events, “Salaam” has been able to educate the public about the Muslim faith and break down some stereotypes.
There is a lack of platforms where Muslim civil rights organizations, scholars and activists are working on Islamophobia across Europe and America, and can gather to exchange information, learn from other experiences and cooperate. Even within Europe, despite the geographic proximity, such a lack exists. This convinced Mohamed that a space should be available where Muslims across Europe and America can have dialogue, exchange their experiences and ultimately, cooperate.
Mohamed Taguine’s Action Project helped create a space where Muslim civil rights organizations, scholars and activists from Europe could exchange their experiences regarding the challenges they face as minorities living in the West, especially when it comes to Islamophobia.
Taking place in the very symbolic city of Sarajevo, where anti-Muslim sentiments led to horrific outcomes, Mohamed helped organize a research program on Islam and the West, in cooperation with the University of Sarajevo.
During the two weeks, participants from all over Europe attended lectures and workshops on issues related to the challenges of being Muslim in Europe. Through the program, the participants were able to get a better understanding of the transnational and regional dimensions of Islamophobia. They all expressed the will to cooperate among themselves in the future to undertake common projects related to Islamophobia, whether it be research, activism or legal advocacy.