Islamophobia has no place in our country of freedom

By: Allie Taiber

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Ever since we were no more than four feet tall, we’ve stood together, united as one, hand over hearts to recite The Pledge of Allegiance to our exceptional country.

We stand with pride and dignity promising to be loyal to the symbol of our nation, a nation of 50 states and several territories, each with certain rights of their own. It’s a country where the people elect representatives from among themselves to make laws for the people, representing the values of the government, in which everyone is equal under the law. It’s a country formed under God, whose people are free to believe as they wish. It’s a unified nation that cannot be split into parts, with freedom and an equal system of law for every person in the nation, regardless of their differences.

Yet there are millions of Muslim American citizens struggling to experience this feeling of freedom, as the United States fears their presence. A disliking of or prejudice against the religion of Islam, or Muslims is the effect of a cultural racism. Our Muslim-American community has been wrongfully labeled as a threat to society. Many people (not all), equate Islam with evil through portrayals of Muslims as irrational, uncivilized or threatening. This term is known as Islamophobia. The racial constructions following 9/11 made by leading social and political figures has preyed on our culture’s common fear of terrorism.

“Islam has attacked us,” said Franklin Graham, shortly after 9/11. He’s one of America’s most powerful evangelical leaders. “Islam, is a very evil and wicked religion,” he said.

It is not the religion or Muslims that are violent, but the select few who wrongly interpret Islam to satisfy their demonic desires. Associating all Muslims with the word evil has expanded throughout the world. Current events have highlighted any negative aspects within Islam, and only violent acts are attributed. There is a lack in showing the good they do the doctors who have saved countless lives and the millions of other peaceful, law-abiding Muslim-Americans who benefit American society.

Thousands of crimes are committed every day by non-Muslim Americans, yet when a crime is done by almost anyone who resembles Middle Eastern descent, it is an act of terrorism.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has added to a heightened feeling of Islamophobia, making claims such as “a ban of all Muslims” or his push for Muslim identification cards.

After Trump confirmed that he would set up a database for Muslim-Americans, an NBC reporter asked him point blank: “Is there a difference between requiring Muslims to register and Jews in Nazi Germany?” A clearly annoyed Trump at first refused to respond, but then told the reporter, “You tell me,” and walked away.

Muslim-American sophomore Hana Malik described her take on Islamophobia when she said, “I have wanted to show people that just because I am of this race, does not make me a bad person.”

I had the opportunity to attend an Islamic Prayer Ritual at the Islamic Center in Waterloo just two weeks ago with Hana. They welcomed me with open arms, and I felt as though I was a part of the bond they all share. In no way is the religion of Islam evil or dangerous. I witnessed love and peace, not terrorism. Muslims fear terrorism just as everyone else; there was no valid reason to remove this group of loving people from their country.

“Every human life is important to Muslims,” Malik said. It’s time we all start practicing true equality for all races.

It’s time to stop painting all Muslims with the same brush. As long as this reaction of fear continues, the terrorists continue terrorizing. They know that after every brutal murder, the media and politicians start ranting about how to deal with average Muslims. The real culprits, meanwhile, get exactly what they want.

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