The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP) focuses on a systematic and empirical approach to the study of Islamophobia and its impact on the American Muslim community. Today, Muslims in the U.S., parts of Europe, and around the world have been transformed into a demonized and feared global “other,” subjected to legal, social, and political discrimination. Even at the highest levels of political discourse, the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, Islamophobia took center stage as a sizeable number of Americans expressed fear that Barack Obama, the first African American president, is somehow a closet Muslim. Newspaper articles, tv shows, books, popular movies, political debates, and cultural conflicts over immigration and security produce ample evidence of the stigmatization of Islam within dominant culture.
The challenge for understanding the current cultural and political period centers on providing a more workable and encompassing definition for the Islamophobia phenomenon, a theoretical framework to anchor present and future research, and a centralized mechanism to document and analyze diverse data sets from around the U.S. and in comparison with other areas around the world.
The Aswat Sacred Music Ensemble is a the sacred music arm of Aswat, the Bay Area’s premier Arab music ensemble. The musical voice of Arab America in the Bay Area is Aswat, which is sponsored by Zawaya. True to Zawaya’s commitment to pluralism and inclusion, Aswat is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious music ensemble that reaches out to the diverse Bay Area community with folkloric, classical, contemporary, and sacred Arab music. Aswat’s doors remain open to all who want to participate in the exciting, enriching exchange between Arab Americans and other communities through the universal language of music.