Countering Islamophobia

This lesson helps students explore, confront and deconstruct stereotypes targeted at Muslims. Students will learn about the impact of Islamophobia and create an anti-Islamophobia campaign to display in school.
Grade Level

  • Students will be able to analyze myths and misconceptions about Muslims. 
  • Students will be able to understand the meaning of Islamophobia and its effects. 
  • Students will be able to create an anti-Islamophobia campaign to display in school.


Enduring Understandings:

  • Stereotypes and fears targeted at Muslims is called Islamophobia.
  • Islamophobia has a negative effect on Muslims, on people of other religious groups and on society at large.
  • Countering Islamophobia requires a deep understanding of its roots and causes.
Essential Questions
  • What is Islamophobia?
  • How does Islamophobia negatively affect people?
  • How can I combat Islamophobia and create a more inclusive community?


discrimination [ dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuh n ] (noun) the treatment of a person or a group of people as less worthy than other people, often because of traits such as race, gender, religion, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation

hijab [ hi-jahb ] (noun) a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover the hair and neck and sometimes the face

Islamis-lahm ] (noun) the religious faith of Muslims, based on the words and religious system founded by the prophet Muhammad and taught by a spiritual text called the Koran

Islamophobia [ is-lahm-uh-foe-bee-ah ] (noun) hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture

Muslimmuhz-lim ] (adjective) relating to the religion, law or civilization of Islam
(noun) a person who follows Islam

oppression [ uh-presh-uh n ] (noun) the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner

stereotypester-ee-uh-tahyp ] (noun) An oversimplified or biased characterization of a group or a “typical” individual member of a group

Alignment to Common Core State Standards/College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5


Suggested Procedure:

Activity Time: 60 minutes

Warm-up Activity

  1. Begin your work by discussing stereotypes. As a class, define the term. Then identify some stereotypes that you sometimes experience because you are a student. For example, do people sometimes make assumptions about you based on your age or the school you attend? What is wrong about those assumptions? Generalize from your discussion by answering the question: What makes stereotypes destructive?

  2. Divide the class into small groups to explore the handout Debunking Misconceptions About Muslims and Islam and the online sidebar Busting Common Myths About Islam. Have a group member read aloud the first misconception. Have each group member take a turn answering these questions: Have you heard this stereotype before? Did you believe it? Then have the same group member read the explanation on the handout of what makes the misconception inaccurate. Consider the other stereotypes one at a time, following the same procedure. When your group has debunked all four stereotypes, formulate a group statement that completes this prompt: In this activity about stereotypes, we learned ___________. Have each group share its statement.

  3. Ask students, “What happens when stereotypes and prejudice go unchecked?” Students may describe the negative consequences without explicitly using the terms discrimination, oppression and Islamophobia. Introduce both the terms and the definitions in the discussion.


Main Activity

  1. Show a picture of Ahmed Mohammed and ask students what happened to him (many may know or can guess from the photo).

    Ahmed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. President Obama later invited him to the White House. How did stereotypes and Islamophobia cause Ahmed to be arrested?

  2. Show a photo of an anti-Muslim bus ad. What is the message of the ad? What does it mean?

    This ad was posted on buses in major cities in the U.S. by an anti-Muslim organization called the American Freedom Defense Fund.

  3. Show photos of Kamala Khan ad cover ups in San Francisco.

    An artist covered the bus ads in San Francisco. How does the Kamala Khan artwork fight Islamophobia?

  4. Islamophobia is affecting students in other countries as well. Show the video “Hijab in Europe.” Have students answer questions on the “Hijab in Europe” worksheet.


Do Something

  1. Ask students to develop an ad campaign that counters the Islamophobic ideas they observed in the lesson. The campaign can include posters, public service announcements and radio commercials. Display posters around campus and allow students to show PSAs to the student body.

  2. When the campaign is finished, use journal writing or Talking Circles to facilitate student reflection. Some suggested reflection questions:
  • What did you learn from the PSAs and posters you observed? Which was your favorite? What were its strengths? Why was it effective?
  • What did you learn from this experience? What about the process stands out for you?
  • How does your anti-Islamophobia campaign relate back to the stories we heard in our Islamophobia lesson?


Related External Resources


Related TT Resources