Increasingly, global threats and domestic political rhetoric are fueling misguided fear, discrimination, and violence against American Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. In recent weeks, we have witnessed hostile graffiti, armed intimidation, and physical attacks. With a high concentration of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian residents, the New York region's response to this crisis will be a bellwether for the rest of the country. 

On February 2, the Ford Foundation in partnership with the New York Community Trust, New York Foundation, and Philanthropy New York hosted leaders in the nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors to discuss major issues impacting these communities and strategies to respond to this backlash.


Opening Story

Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain for the NYPD, offers his perspective on multi-faith and cross-cultural collaboration.


Understanding the Community

Confronting Islamophobia requires understanding the demographics, trends, and issues impacting Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities at the national and local levels.


  • Shawn Morehead, Senior Program Officer at the New York Community Trust
  • Joseph Salvo, Director of the Population Division at the New York City Department of City Planning
  • Besheer Mohamed, Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center


A Conversation with Leaders

Local and national leaders reflect on the strategies, challenges, and partnerships in addressing Islamophobia in the US.


  • Farhana Khera, Executive Director of Muslim Advocates
  • Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab Association of New York
  • Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director of DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center
  • Imam Talib 'Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood
  • Imam Souleimane Konaté of the Masjid Aqsa Mosque


The Public Response

Government officials discuss how New York City has worked to foster inclusion and protect the rights of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrant communities across the city.


  • Shireen Zaman, Security & Rights Collaborative Director at the Proteus Fund
  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Jorge I. Montalvo, Director of the New York State Office of New Americans
  • Sarah Sayeed, Senior Advisor at the Office of the Mayor of New York City


Addressing the Social Service Needs

Local organizations and community leaders discuss the importance of comprehensive and holistic responses that take into account the needs of families, women, and children, as well as the community at large.


  • Afreen Alam, Executive Director, Chhaya CDC
  • Lena Alhusseini, Executive Director, Arab-American Family Support Center
  • Robina Niaz, Executive Director, Turning Point for Women and Families
  • Fatima Shama, Executive Director, Fresh Air Fund


Interview with Youth Leaders

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, in conversation with youth organizers, Aber Kawas and Hebh Jamal, who were recently featured in a December 2015 New York Times article, "Young Muslim Americans Are Feeling the Strain of Suspicion."


Performances by Atheer Yacoub and Dean Obeidallah

Atheer Yacoub, a New York-based comedian and writer, and Dean Obeidallah, an award-winning comedian and columnist for CNN and the Daily Beast, offered their humor and perspective to close the day.

  • Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice


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