Eid al-Fear: Islamophobia sweeps nation

Hannah Martin

As the winter holidays approach, my excitement to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family increases exponentially, despite my non-religious status. I realize that this most wonderful time of the year revolves mostly around the Christian religion, but it’s never really bothered me until now. However, being a citizen of this country, I also can’t help but notice that most Americans never really acknowledge many major holidays that don’t have a Christian basis, like Eid al-Fitr and Ulambana. Though I know that there aren’t any Islamic or Jewish holidays during the APS winter break this year, I would never know when they were scheduled due to the fact that they aren’t labeled in any of my calendars like Christmas always is.

I specifically express concern for the followers of Islam. Even though many Americans remain oblivious to the close proximity of Christian and Muslim beliefs—what with its various mutual doctrines and holidays, even sharing monotheism—many of us suffer from Islamophobia. The burkas and hijabs that Muslim women wear make us all jump to conclusions of radical misogyny and oppression; the image of an Arabic or Persian man dressed in traditional Islamic robes makes our country shudder with disdain. And God forbid a Muslim family should come through the airport—they could be planning a terrorist attack; look at them laughing and speaking in a language different than our own English—how suspicious!

It’s ridiculous that we dare hold such extreme prejudices against our own neighbors; accusing an innocent Muslim person of terrorism when in reality, most terrorist attacks are planned and carried out by white, male Christians. According to the FBI database, 96 percent of terroristic acts carried out within the United States are committed by non-Muslims.

“The whole concept of terrorism is now directed towards Muslims, as though this word was made for us,” Grady sophomore Nishat Shormi, who practices Islam, said. “It’s funny really, because Islam truly teaches peace, respect and patience.” Shormi agrees that many Americans tend to blindly single out and accuse the Muslim group.

“It hurts to see how people can so ignorantly make comments and behave a certain way based on their minuscule knowledge derived from the media, which by the way has the power to portray any religion in a negative manner,” Shormi said. “I wish people would stop and think a little, maybe even read a book or two, about the profundity and clarity of Islam to help them make better and educated judgements.”

Luckily, Shormi said she has found acceptance at Grady, but many Muslim-American students have faced prejudice from their peers. According to a 2010 survey of Muslim children across the country, conducted by Muslim Mothers Against Violence, 100 percent of students said that they had been called a name because of their faith; 80 percent even reported being taunted with the name “terrorist.”

Prejudice is never called for, but if we are to blindly accuse anyone of attempting terrorism, why not the white, male Christian group that we have praised for so long? Remember how we targeted the Japanese after they carried out the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941? What about the Germans, after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915? We are only scared of the Muslims because the group behind the 9/11 attacks, apparently Al-Qaeda, happened to preach radical Islamic values. It’s time we, as Americans, grow up and learn to be wise enough to distinguish between the good and the bad, rather than blindly accuse an entire group or ethnicity. It’s insanely ridiculous that the only way Americans will discard their prejudices against one group is to move them to another group. Not all German or Japanese peoples were committed to the hatred of our country, so why should all followers of Islam be?

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