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Muslim Mental Health

Exploring intersectional discrimination impacts on Muslim women’s social and psychological well-being

Principal Investigator: Nadine Mounir

Honours Thesis 2022-23

Read the full thesis here

Background: Following 9/11 terrorist attacks, Islamophobia surged, leading to targeted hate attacks against Muslims. The media’s portrayal of Muslims as terrorists amplified these attacks, making Muslim women vulnerable targets, especially those who are visibly Muslim. This portrayal resulted in increased hostility and anti-Islamic violence towards them. Objective: Using feminist intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 1989) as a framework, this study explored how Muslim women’s experiences of discrimination impacted their well-being. Methods: Utilizing a semi-structured interview guide, three Muslim women who were at least 18 years old and residing in Saskatchewan were individually interviewed to gather a comprehensive understanding of their experiences. Recruitment of participants involved online advertisements of the study’s purpose and eligibility criteria. Results: Reflexive thematic analysis of individual interviews revealed recurring microaggressions and predominantly implicit discrimination towards Muslim women. These incidents were typically in the form of day-to-day insensitive comments or questions rooted in their intersectional identities and Islamophobia. Further, Muslim women faced significant barriers to belonging in Canada, resulting in deep pessimism about potential integration into the larger community. Findings underscore the potential of community-based research that considers Muslim women’s specific needs and resources to address disparities related to their well-being while providing a platform for their voices to be heard. Implications: The present study will contribute to the body of literature on intersectionality by strengthening our understanding of Muslim women’s under-researched experiences. Research findings will raise awareness of the adverse effects of intersectional discrimination and the potential approaches for combating intersectional discrimination among Muslim women residing in Canada.

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