By Dustin Massengill–

The executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Zahra Billoo, explained her faith and culture in “Bans, Borders and Bigotry: Not My America” at a packed Chao Auditorium March 30.

Billoo said the political and social climate has been skewed against Muslim Americans before 9/11, but discrimination and hate has grown over the last few years. A YouGov poll from 2015 found that 68 percent of Americans had never personally met a Muslim and 55 percent had a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion on the Islamic religion.

“The attacks on President Obama were about him being black, and a secret Muslim,” she said.

CAIR noticed an uptick in anti-Muslim legislation recently. The group cited Tennessee and Florida remolding the use of religious texts in schools. CAIR also cited the appearance of Muslim-Free spaces and anti-Muslim demonstrations.

“Hate crimes have increased, but mostly against Sikhs,” Billoo said. “Hindus and Sikhs have been shot because people didn’t know the difference.”

“I don’t think racism ends with this administration, or the next one,” Billoo said. “Turning out and going to talks and learning about each other will help.”

Photos by Dustin Massengill / The Louisville Cardinal