Islamophobia: Toward a Legal Definition and Framework

116 Columbia Law Review Online 108 (2016)

16 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2017

See all articles by Khaled Beydoun

Khaled Beydoun

University of Arkansas - School of Law

Date Written: 2016


Islamophobia is escalating at a frightening clip in the United States. Scrutiny of this bigotry, presently understood as “fear and suspicion of Muslims,” is rising at an alarming rate. Its rapid rise is reflected in the legal literature, encompassing scholarship analyzing the emerging national security strategies of the state to the civil liberties infractions and threats they pose to Muslim subjects.

In short time, Islamophobia has become a subject of considerable scrutiny and interest. Despite this rising scholarly interest, there is no singular, cogent, or consensus definition of Islamophobia--and more specifically, there is no legal definition that adeptly characterizes the state and private animus directed at Muslim subjects.

This Piece seeks to fill that void. It is the first to provide a precise definition of Islamophobia to serve and carry forward the proliferating body of legal scholarship addressing the state, private, and converging targeting of Muslim subjects in the United States. It also aims to facilitate advocacy countering Islamophobia. During an impasse when suspicion of Muslim subjects is swelling, fear of homegrown “radicalization” rising, and curtailment of Muslim American civil liberties deepening, a legal definition and framework for understanding Islamophobia is vital.

Suggested Citation

Beydoun, Khaled, Islamophobia: Toward a Legal Definition and Framework (2016). 116 Columbia Law Review Online 108 (2016). Available at SSRN:

Khaled Beydoun (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas - School of Law ( email )

260 Waterman Hall
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

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