Islam isn’t a race. But it still makes sense to think of Islamophobia as racism.

Islam isn’t a race. But it still makes sense to think of Islamophobia as racism.
Image: MRCTV video screen grab

Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti is … planning to boycott the Academy Awards ceremony in protest of Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, including Iran.

Why? “Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist,” she tweeted Thursday.

Now that [the] a ban … is a reality, … criticism of [Trump’s] administration has deepened. It’s a rallying cry for activists and a concern of critics for whom the policy flies in the face of what they would like to think are modern American values.

But supporters of the executive order resist the application of the “r-word” here, saying that even if the order did explicitly target Muslims, that still wouldn’t be racist. After all, they argue, Islam is a religion, not a race. Muslims include people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds….

To understand why, despite all this, it makes sense to talk about anti-Muslim bigotry — both as expressed by the Trump administration and in general — as a kind of racism, you need to know about the roots of Islamophobia, and about how racial categories can shift with the political winds.

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