To begin with: I am not a Muslim. I am only viewing my friends and colleagues being hurt and are in pain everyday because of the stereotypes that were enforced upon them; the stereotype that “Muslims are terrorists”.
Many Muslims are being harassed everyday just for the sole reason that they are Muslims and practiced their faith.
Here are some quotes from a few of my friends who have agreed to share their experiences:
“As an Arabic-Muslim 8th grader living in the USA, almost every history class, I heard that president Obama must kill all Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and the teacher paid no regard to that.” (Anonymous).
“I was once in the U.K for tourism, and everything seemed perfectly fine till I spoke Arabic. The looks gazing down at me made me feel I should be guilty, ashamed of who I am. I then I understood when we were stereotyped as terrorists, especially that a kid my age (12 at the time) asked if I were a terrorist.” (Anonymous).
“As a Muslim studying in an international boarding school, I was in my history class discussing Muslims’ immigration to Mecca while Jews already lived there. The information we were discussing was incorrect and was later modified by the department. In the discussion, an Asian who was not fully familiar with the religion of Islam said “The Prophet was brutal and was acting like the terrorist group ISIS”. I was shocked and speechless” (Anonymous).
“Whenever I would walk the streets of Chicago wearing a scarf, I would often receive odd looks and elderly women shaking their heads, as though I was a freed criminal. Occasionally, a few people would whisper ‘terrorist’ in my ear as they brushed past me while the rest would snicker and giggle” (Anonymous).
As you can see, all of my friends that shared their experiences asked me to keep their quotes anonymous; they still fear more discrimination by others.
This is a interview that explains what is happening by JooJoo Azad, who also experienced these types of discrimination against her in the interview itself. The interviewer kept asked her about nuclear weapons in Iran, while her entire career is about fashion and incorporating the hijab into fashion. Later on, the interviewer said “You don’t sound American”, which is highly offensive because she partly identifies as an American and it sets the standard of what an American should act and say like.
- This is an FBI Source stating that 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. Therefore, you simply cannot claim that Muslims are terrorists. Have a look yourself.
- This is a photo that shows the amount of terror attacks who have been religiously motivated in Europe;
- The last 5 of the 12 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are Muslims (42%)!
This is a contradiction to the stereotype that Muslims are terrorists. In fact, many try to change the world into a more peaceful one.There names are:
- Shirin Ebadi
- Mohamed ElBaradei
- Muhammad Yunus
- Tawakkol Karman
- Malala Yousafzai
- This is a video showing how Muslims are being treated – it is a social experiment:
As you can see, there is a lot of racism and harassment in our community. Muslims and Arabs are being marginalized by society for the way they dress, their religion and cultural differences, even if many people still accept others as you saw in the video.
- What is also essential is that you do not generalize people into categories just because of their faith, sex, ethnicity, race,religion, sexual orientation, …
To combat and battle these misconceptions about Islam, we need to make people more aware.
The spread of media is a very powerful tool:
A few days ago, there was a popular trend roaming around which is the: “Punish A Muslim Day”. It spread over twitter and Facebook very quickly. There was an opposition trend which was: “Love A Muslim Day”. However, it did not spread as much as the original trend did.
This needs to change by posting more about it, do as much as you can in social media to prevent the spread of Islamophobia. When you see a racist joke aimed towards Muslims, do not just look at it. Whenever, you tweet about this issue, use the hashtag #peace_in_islam
RESPOND TO IT!
The worst people are bystanders who do not fight for the right thing. If you see someone being treated unjustly an you stand there doing nothing, it is as if you are telling the bully that it is okay to do such thing, which is highly encouraging and painful to the person being bullied. To put an end to this, we must act. Quickly.
There can be many ways to remedy the pain that Arabs go through. For example, there is a novel I read called “Once in a Promised Land” by Laila Hallaby. It features 2 Arab Muslims and captures how their daily interactions have changed after 9/11 because this marked a point in the growth and expansion of the Muslims are terrorists stereotypes grew. They became more secretive and could not be open to the world on who they were and what they are doing here. Many people just categorize them as “bad people”.
Music can also be a catalyst for change:
There is a song by a Lebanese singer, Hiba Tawaji, who has a song that expresses her pain and her sorrow becuase of what is happening to the Arab World. The name of this song is Al Rabih Al Arabi, which directly translates to the “The Arab Spring”.
This composition I created for me symbolizes the hurt and the pain that Arabs go through and in the end, it is my hope for the future through the whistling.
Please find the time to educate people on this topic, because Islam is not a terrorist religion. In fact, it preaches love and respect to one another and I can see that reflected on my Muslim friends. Even if people do not agree with you and regard Muslims as terrorists, it s still much more important to have conversations about this topic and expose ourselves to others views. Whenever you have a discussion, share about it, go to social media and reflect your experiences. Create music that symbolizes this type of pain, and share it. Write about the topic. Never forget the suffering Muslims have to go through to be accepted in a Western society. Bridge the gaps between people regardless of their identities. It is important to bring these topics and acting on them.
An important Islamic figure, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, once said:
“Patience is a pillar of faith”.
And Islam is all about peace.
Please share this project for more awareness.
Ahmed, B. (2015). Less Than 2 Percent Of Terrorist Attacks In The E.U. Are Religiously Motivated. [online] Thinkprogress.org. Available at: https://thinkprogress.org/less-than-2-percent-of-terrorist-attacks-in-the-e-u-are-religiously-motivated-cec7d8ebedf6/
All Nobel Peace Prizes”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 13 Apr 2018. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/>
Alnatour, O. (2018). Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look at Terrorism and Islam. [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/omar-alnatour/muslims-are-not-terrorist_b_8718000.html
Europol. (2015). EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report (Te-Sat). [online] Available at: https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/main-reports/eu-terrorism-situation-and-trend-report
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007). Terrorism 2002/2005. [online] Available at: https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005
Halaby, L. (2008). Once in a promised land. Boston: Beacon Press.
Jovian, K. (2016). AMERICAN vs MUSLIM BAG EXPERIMENT. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/M0dMkFxIe4Y [Accessed 14 Apr. 2018].
Tawaji, H. (2014). Hiba Tawaji – Al Rabih Al Arabi [Official Music Video] (2014) / هبه طوجي – الربيع العربي. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g93Jzxaxp9s