Lessons of Bay Area Muslim study resonate more than ever

Several years ago, SVCF and three other philanthropic organizations collectively funded research that led to The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Community and Identity. When the study was released in 2013, we noted that the Bay Area’s Muslim communities – not to mention American Muslims overall – are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented.

Now, with the Syrian refugee crisis deepening, terrorist acts in Paris and California linked to Islamic religious extremists or sympathizers and some American political candidates fanning the flames of intolerance for Muslims, we realize that the messages we wanted to convey are – sadly – more relevant than ever.

Recent events show us that we must continue to work for the causes of understanding and tolerance.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most diverse regions in the United States. More than 30% of its population is foreign-born, and close to two-thirds of its residents under the age of 18 are the children of immigrants. Nearly 250,000 Muslims – one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country – live, study, volunteer, work and contribute to the economies and communities of the Bay Area.

The benchmark study provides historical, religious, and cultural context for Bay Area Muslim communities. For the first time, this report gathers quantitative and qualitative research about the needs of the Bay Area Muslim community and suggests recommendations for philanthropy, public agencies and the private sector. I deeply believe that this information can be used by all of us to further dialog and understanding, consistent with American values of freedom of religion and the right of assembly.

Just as we did in 2013, I invite you to join us in partnering with American Muslims in the Bay Area to address the complex challenges of a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, socio-economically diverse community of enormous potential.

For more information about the study or SVCF’s work with organizations protecting the civil rights of Muslim Americans, contact Mauricio Palma at mpalma@siliconvalleycf.org