2015 wrapped up as the most dangerous year for Muslims in America, setting records for hate crimes against them. There have been dozens of attacks on mosques, including firebombings, and physical assaults like stabbings, shootings and beatings against Muslims–and perceived Muslims–grew to the highest numbers ever recorded.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Deepa Kumar, professor of media studies at Rutgers University and author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, about the roots of this alarming situation. From confronting right-wing arguments, to examining the reality behind Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, to how Islamophobia is a reinforcement and basis for the structures of Empire, the first Empire Files episode of 2016 gives essential context to the wave of anti-Muslim hate in America and beyond.

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Abby Martin is a journalist and presenter of The Empire Files, a weekly investigative news program on teleSUR English. She was formerly the host of Breaking the Set on RT America network, working from the Washington, D.C. bureau. Abby also is an artist and activist who founded the citizen journalism organization Media Roots. She serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. Abby appeared in the documentary film Project Censored The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013), and co-directed 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013). Follow her on twitter @AbbyMartin