Assistant Professor Chantal Tetreault and PhD student Sara Tahir publish in Journal of Muslim Mental Health

Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor Dr. Chantal Tetreault and PhD student Sara Tahir published an article entitled “Muslim Women’s Ethical Engagement and Emotional Coping in Post-Election United States” in the Journal of Muslim Mental Health with colleagues from MSU’s Department of Psychiatry. In the article, they investigate Muslim religious practice related to frequency of Islamophobic experiences, socio-emotional/mental distress, and coping strategies among American Muslim women since the 2016 American presidential election.

Read the full article at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/jmmh.10381607.0013.103

Abstract: Muslim women, especially those wearing headscarves or hijab, are targets of anti-Muslim stereotypical rhetoric and violent attacks in the United States, with expected adverse effects on their mental wellbeing. This pilot research examines Muslim religious practice related to frequency of Islamophobic experiences, socio-emotional/mental distress, and coping strategies among American Muslim women since the 2016 American presidential election. This is a mixed methods study surveying adult Muslim women (n=35) living in the United States. Quantitative analyses included overall frequency and percent differences in various experiences for Muslim American women who always wear hijab (n=22) compared to those that do not always wear hijab (n=13). Qualitative data analyzed were derived from a focus group and from essays by survey respondents. All respondents (100%) reported a perceived increase in Islamophobia since the presidential election, and 26.5% (n=9) of respondents reported altering their religious practice as a result of the political climate since the 2016. Places/situations associated with greatest perceived vulnerability included: airports (74.3%), airplanes (45.7%), public bus (28.5%), driving (28.5%), and shopping malls (28.5%). Places/situations associated with high vulnerability in Muslim women was similar by hijab status with the exception of higher vulnerability for hijab-wearing (40.9%) vs. nonhijab wearing women in public bus transportation (P- value = 0.04). Experience of personal direct anti-Muslim aggression, i.e., violent words and actions, occurred more frequently (50%, n = 11) among women who report always wearing hijab compared to non-always hijab-wearing respondents (38.5%, N=5). Likewise, selfreported experience of fear over the past year was elevated (54.6% vs. 15.4%, P-value = 0.02) for hijab-wearing compared with non-hijab-wearing women. On the other hand, respondents’ experiences of anxiety (59.1% vs. 61.5% P-value = 0.89) and lack of safety (36.4% vs. 53.8% P-value = 0.31) over the past year was comparable for hijab wearing vs. non-hijab wearing women. Hijab-wearing women report more direct anti-Muslim aggression, experiencing more fear in general and feeling unsafe in more places than non-hijab-wearing women. That said, women’s experiences of a post-election U.S. political climate were not as divergent as we had expected, regardless of hijab status. Rather, anxiety about Islamophobia and experiencing a lack of safety by Muslim women are generalized experiences in a post-election moment in the United States. More research will be needed to know whether our participants’ responses reflected their immediate reaction to the election or a more long-term coping mechanism for the heightened visibility that Muslim women face in current American political rhetoric and foreign policy.

11.18.19