I was terrified for all my Muslim friends when I heard about the Paris attacks. I started cleaning my apartment, as if it would clean the mess created by the killings. The first thoughts in my mind were, “Oh, no. Will they have to apologize for the wrongdoings of another person? Will they all be persecuted and made to all look like terrorists? Is this the rise of Islamophobia?”
Islamophobia. Also known as the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force. Unfortunately since the recent attacks on both San Bernardino and Paris, this word has become profoundly popular and internalized. For many people, just the look of a Muslim installs a natural fear. During this time, I can’t help but draw comparisons to the unwelcoming that many blacks felt during the 1700s. The fright to be yourself without fear of judgment is apparent; many Muslims even go to great lengths like wearing their hijabs so that they are not identified as Muslim, whilst some black people begin to bleach their skin so that they are not seen as black. It’s sad.
When will we see that as Americans, we live in the land of the free? We must accept the diversity in our community and respects each other’s choices. Many people do not even know that the subjects we study such as physics, math and medicine come from Muslims.
Painting all Muslims with the same paint brush has to stop. The news, television shows and politicians who want to the use America’s fear of terrorism to better their chances of becoming president have to stop the propaganda against Muslims. No one even speaks about the good the Islamic community brings. No one speaks about the good, like the shelters that help sponsor homeless people. Or about the organizations that stem from the faith to provide education to raped and abused women so they can have a chance in life. No one speaks.
“It’s important for Muslim men and Muslim women to maintain a strong identity,” said practicing Muslim Omar Suleiman in an interview with the BBC. “We can’t let fear dictate our faith. We have to show resilience.”
According to the BBC, Suleiman’s home address was recently released by an anti-Islamic group. His was one of several addresses published by the group as a form of protest against Muslims. Suleiman, a resident scholar of Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, Texas, is just one of millions of Muslims facing abuse everyday.
We must accept each other. It is unacceptable for each and every type of race or religious group to experience what black people experienced in America. We must draw inspiration from those who helped us fight the fight for freedom and use that to help remove Islamophobia forever.
Photo by: Michael Shuey