Artist Siti Azzah Binti Syed Sultan is using art to address Islamophobia in America.
The 20-year-old artist came to the United States in 2012 and recently decided to address the issue of Islamophobia in her artwork after witnessing the phenomenon. She stitched together pieces of hijabs mailed to her by Muslim American women to create an American flag in a piece titled “Home Sweet Home.”
Sultan came to New York from Malaysia at age 16 to study fine arts at Parsons, The New York School of Design, according to an interview with ThinkProgress. She uses her art work to explore her identity through her faith and personal background and as a platform for Muslim women to express themselves in Western society.
“Art has always been political in nature,” Sultan told Think Progress. “Throughout history, you see people using art as a way or tool to voice their opinions about their social environment and issues that surround them. Art is always a critique on something and that itself makes it political. I use art as a way to voice my own opinions on issues and struggles that Muslims face within a western society, as it has direct effects on me as a Muslim.”
Sultan also commented that she didn’t have to worry about Islamophobia in Malaysia, but once she came to the United States, she began to feel alienated. She decided to use art as a way to express her frustrations with Western society’s Islamophobia.
Islamophobia is apparent in many aspects of Western society. For example, Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green demonstrated anti-Muslim sentiment towards Reza Aslan, a Muslim historian and PhD professor of religion.
Islamophobia can also lead to violence in the United States and other Western nations. February 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the Chapel Hill shooting, in which UNC student Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister and NCSU student Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were killed in their home in their home in Chapel Hill. Their neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks was arrested for shooting and killing the three in a single attack and the police department claimed that their investigation indicated that the crime was motivated by an ongoing parking dispute. However, the victim’s families and many others believe that the murders were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments.
Millennials are fairly active in fighting Islamophobia with knowledge of Islam. According to a 2009 survey from the Center for American Progress, Millennials cite the September 11 attacks as the most significant influence shaping the attitudes and beliefs of their generation. While attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have become more negative since September 11 in the United States, Millennials have become more engaged in efforts to increase knowledge of Islam.