Islamophobia is the hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture. This has become a very pressing issue in American culture and politics. Islamophobia has been a big issue in our country for a number of years, however, it really came into light with the Trump presidential campaign. Trump’s campaign was fueled by anti-Muslim rhetoric with dangerous promises of a Muslim ban. Trump’s campaign brought out the worst in many people. His anger and hatred normalized the outright verbal and physical attacks on an already marginalized and criminalized group of people.
Since Trump’s campaign, attacks on Muslims and mosques have greatly increased. Many radical neo-Nazis justify their attacks saying that all Muslims are “radicals” and “terrorists.” If you are educated on this issue or personally know Muslims than you know that this is completely incorrect, ignorant, and highly dangerous. I, personally, have a few Muslim friends and have visited a mosque near my home, and I can vouch in saying that not all Muslims are terrorists. From experience, it seems that those who incorrectly label Muslims don’t understand that many of those who are killed by terrorist organizations like ISIS, are Muslims. In fact, according to a UN report in just the first eight months of 2014, at least 24,015 civilians had been killed or injured in Iraq due to the actions of ISIS. This includes but is not limited to acts of beheading, killing of women for objecting to ISIS’ policies, and executing Sunni Muslim clerics for refusing to swear allegiance to ISIS. Not only is ISIS taking lives it’s taking homes. The report goes on to explain that as of August 2014 a least 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced due to the ongoing violence. As of 2016, the UN found that there are more than 6 million internally displaced Syrian refugees. On top of this, there are more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees outside of their home country. These numbers barely graze the horrifying actions and impacts of ISIS on Muslims in the Middle East.
Despite this people still, act as if all Muslims are “radical terrorist” just because they are Muslim. Now, this logic is highly flawed. It is flawed because it is like saying that all Christians are part of the KKK because members of the KKK are Christians. Now obviously that isn’t true, but the same thing applies to Islam. Just because, a small number of people in a group have certain beliefs and commit certain acts doesn’t mean that the small number represents the beliefs and actions of the whole group. It is the use of twisted logic that further separates people from the truth. For many years people have used religion as an excuse for ulterior motives, to justify their twisted actions. It wasn’t too long ago that people justified imperialism and slavery with Christianity. We must look beyond our biases and ignorance to see the real culprits.
Just today in Oregon, two men died and one was injured while they were attempting to defend two women who were being verbally attacked by a man on the metro. A few weeks ago a young, black, Muslim woman was verbally attacked and discriminated against by a Washington credit union. Incidents like these are becoming increasingly common in our society. Those fueled by anger and hatred towards the unknown are lashing out and hurting others that already have a very difficult time fitting into our society. The hatred and ignorance need to be stopped. At what point are we going to stop justifying the acts of hate towards Muslims? At what point are we going to say enough is enough? That time should be now! The anger that people feel is fueled by ignorance and bigotry. We must move to educate others and ourselves on Islam and its practices so as to not misconstrued it. We must take steps to listen to and give voices to Muslims in our community and make our community a safe space for them. We must not idly stand by while members of our community are being attacked and ostracized. They are people just like you and me and they deserve to live happy and healthy lives without worrying about being attacked for their religion. We must always, always be open minded and inclusive. That is the only true way to make a change in our world.