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ASU center receives grant to amplify voices of Muslim youth

Sign with the letters "ASU" on a campus, surrounded by a tree in bloom.
August 03, 2023

The Center of Muslim Experience in the United States, housed in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, is working to advance public understanding of Muslims and Islam in the U.S. with a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, or ACLS.

The center’s new program, “Muslims in the Media: Empowering Youth Engagement through Global Perspectives," aims to help journalists overcome gaps in their knowledge of Muslim lived experiences and amplify the voices of Muslim youth. The program is a collaboration between ASU students and students from two universities in India and Sweden.

“Our center’s mission is to document the history of this minority community in the United States. This program and help from the ACLS is another way of contributing to that mission,” said Yasmin Saikia, the center’s co-director. “It’s helping shift the narrative to where they are no longer just the subject of the story but the creators of the story as well.”

According to a 2017 research study by the Pew Research Center, there are an estimated 3.45 million American Muslims in the U.S.

The U.S. Muslim population has grown exponentially, with three in 10 Muslims having arrived in the country from 2010 to when the study was conducted in 2017. Islam is projected to be the second-largest religious minority by 2030.

ASU has a population of over 8,000 Muslim faculty, staff and students. 

The center is one of two programs at universities across the country that received funding from the Luce/ACLS program in religion, journalism and international affairs.

Students at ASU will produce toolkits for responsible reporting that will be shared with journalists as a resource when covering stories about the growing number of Muslim Americans and Islam in the U.S. 

The toolkits will provide resources to challenge Islamophobic narratives, share stories from Muslim youth and highlight Muslims' social and cultural contributions in the U.S., India and Sweden.

When the center launched in 2022, co-directors Chad Haines and Saikia envisioned it as a way to highlight the diversity and creativity of Muslim Americans and showcase their contributions to American society and culture. 

“One of our goals as a center is student success and youth. Youth in the world, and particularly in the Muslim world, but also youth as a student in the United States wanted to define their place in this country,” Haines said. “Giving voices to the students as the makers and creators of these toolkits is extremely important.”

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