California teen Yusra Rafeeqi is doing her part to confront the Islamophobia that President Donald Trump helped propagate throughout his campaign.
The election and its aftermath gave rise to some of the worst Islamophobia the country has seen since the years immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Trump’s comments about Muslims and Islam throughout
Islamophobia is widespread across the United States, but it’s not because people hate Muslims. To me, the issue is that people do not understand Muslims.
The 15-year-old decided to make a Facebook page called Dine With a Muslim Family to do what she could to confront bias in her own community.
Her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan nearly 30 years ago, were supportive of the idea, the teen said. She and her father began posting up at a busy intersection in town every Thursday with signs inviting passers-by to ‘Have Dinner with a Muslim Family’.
The family hosted their first dinner on May 5 and their second dinner on May 13, with two couples and another woman present. They were very open-minded and supportive people Rafeeqi said.
Americans as a population have a very low opinion of Muslims as compared to other religious groups. Just over a third of Americans say they know someone who is Muslim, and few know much about the faith.
Other Muslim activists have similarly attempted to combat Islamophobia by addressing its root cause: ignorance.
In a Facebook post from someone who attended one of the dinner at Yusra’s house, they wrote,
“Yusra’s mother prepared a wonderful meal and all six of us sat around the dinner table to learn from each other. At the beginning, we talked about serious stuff: religion, kindness, cultural differences, traditions, discrimination, and humanity. By the end, we were just a bunch of friends laughing together. Food has a magical way of doing that.”
Yusra said she has several dinners scheduled for the upcoming weeks, and she hopes to enlist other Muslim friends in her community to join the initiative if her family receives more requests that they can handle.