Speaking on behalf of the majority of Americans, most would agree 2016 has been a rough, crucial year filled with controversies, scandals, and especially polemics. Who are we kidding? 2016 has come to mark the beginning of a dark new chapter for the United States. Outside its borders, it is thought to believe the US welcomes immigrants with open arms. Heck, this country was founded by foreign immigrants escaping religious persecution. But throughout this past elections, Donald Trump’s candidacy has unmasked a hidden dark side for which many do not recognize. His polemics and slanders have done nothing but cause harm to the US and many of its citizens living within; preying on racial, ethnic, even religious hostilities by spewing hate speeches against several communities. Of all, one of the most affected communities has been the 3.5 million Muslim-Americans currently residing.
Donald Trump initiated part of his presidential campaign by proposing to put a total and complete shutdown on Muslims from entering the US, once in office. According to him, placing a ban would help eradicate the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.” And as his campaign proceeded further, Mr. Trump implied that the millions of Muslims-Americans are somehow accomplices to the recent attacks because he presumes each and every one “knows who the bad ones are.” As a result, all this propaganda has instigated and built hatred in favor against the Islamic community.
In New York City, a Muslim teen was allegedly harassed by three men while waiting for the uptown 6-train inside a subway station platform. The three men, claiming to be Trump supporters, called the frightened teen a “fucking terrorist” and told her “you don’t belong here” as well as “get the hell out of this country” right before they tried to remove her hijab. In Brooklyn, a Muslim woman was confronted by another individual just outside a pharmacy store and told to go back to her own country right in front of her 10-year-old son. Although she chose to just walk away, the woman later felt so upset the incident caused her severe chest pain. In addition, NYPD officials say the city has been witnessing huge spikes in hate crimes since Donald Trump won the elections.
But let’s face it; the Islamic community has been on the scapegoat-end way before Trump. The terrorist attacks on the World trade Center during 9/11, along with other tragedies that occurred in the aftermath, have led others to believe Islam instigates terrorism. And because of the tragic outcomes, many have ignorantly pointed fingers at Muslim-Americans for the acts carried-out by insurgent terrorists groups who claim to be of the same beliefs.
According to actor, writer, and director Aziz Ansari:
“Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage. In our culture, when people think ‘Muslim,’ the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the kid who left the boy band One Direction. It’s of a scary terrorist character from ‘Homeland’ or some monster from the news.”
Indeed, for most within the Islamic community itself, it has not been easy. Every day, many confront the frustration of defending their religious beliefs as well as their rights to be in this country. Due to a few rotten apples, why must the whole tree pay for the consequences? Just because Islamic beliefs differ from Christian beliefs, what gives people the right to discriminate? For the past two decades, there have also been acts of terrorism carried out by individuals of Christian beliefs. Yet, no one pointed fingers at Christianity itself. Imagine if all Christians were to be discriminated for the hate-crimes carried out by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). See the irony? It is completely absurd and ignorant to presume the teachings of one religion initiates terror.
Islam is a religion of peace articulated by the Quran, a holy book considered to be the verbatim word of God. Its origins can be traced back to Abraham, one of the prophets chosen by God and whose faith also established Christianity and Judaism. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 1.6 billion Islamic followers across the globe for which make Islam the world’s second largest religion. In fact, some of the most influential figures have been of Muslim faith. For example, Muhammad Ali, the most influential boxing figure and activist who fought for the rights of African-Americans during the 1960s civil rights movement.
While Muhammad Ali did great things to set a good example for Islam, insurgent terrorists groups such as ISIS are damaging the religion’s image and reputation. I understand the US, along with the rest of the world, are in the state of panic due to the horrific attacks carried out by ISIS as well as Al Qaeda. But that doesn’t mean everyone who is of the same faith is responsible. We all must understand there is a huge difference between Islam and terrorism. That being, Islam is a religion intended to prosper through peace while terrorism unlawfully uses violence and intimidation against innocent civilians in order to pursue political aims.
Whenever I hear stories of hate crimes committed against the Islamic community, I find it atrocious thus my blood begins to boil because I know those crimes have been carried out by ignorant individuals who don’t understand the difference. And now that Donald Trump has become president, those individuals think it is okay to discriminate others based on their beliefs. While Mr. Trump may tell us Muslims are responsible for the terrorism occurring across the globe, I encourage we the people to respond “No Mr. Trump, you’re wrong!” and refuse to believe those alternative facts.
I have lived in the US long enough to fully understand the difference. As a matter of fact, some of my closest friends are of Muslim faith and never-once have they ever posed “as a threat” to either me or anyone.
One week after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. The order was carried-out with the purpose of extreme vetting but instead, it caused immediate backlash and outrage among Americans. Inside airports across the nation, travelers were detained while their families panicked. Just outside, protesters marched against the sweeping measure demanding to release those detained. According to the US president, the executive order was necessary in order to prevent “bad men” from entering the country. Once again, this proves just how incompetent our new president turned out to be. Did Mr. Trump really expect the so-called ban would eradicate radical Islamic terrorism? All this would simply add more logs to the existing fire, fueling more resentment within Muslims across the globe. That is exactly what insurgent groups like ISIS want: for the US to create further tensions and more reasons to attack American civilians.
What the Trump administration did was indeed unconstitutional and un-American. Immigrants no matter from where are the prosperous futures of the United States. Let us not forget, this country was founded by immigrants. As a nation, what we should do is engage with the Islamic community. By building a greater relationship, we build trust thus unite under one purpose: to defeat the threat of radical Islamic terrorism for which has instigated fear among all communities including those pertaining to Islam.
“A Look at Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees, Immigration.” The Epoch Times. Epoch Times, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2216674-a-look-at-trumps-executive-order-on-refugees-immigration-2/>.
Ansari, Aziz. “Aziz Ansari: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 24 June 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/opinion/sunday/aziz-ansari-why-trump-makes-me-scared-for-my-family.html>.
Del-Valle, Gaby. “Muslim Teen Who Was Allegedly Attacked By Trump Supporters Goes Missing For Two Days.” Gothamist. Gothamist LLC, 10 Dec. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://gothamist.com/2016/12/10/muslim_teen_who_was_allegedly_attac.php>.
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Robbins, Liz. “Orlando Killings Rob Young New York Muslims of a Cherished Holiday Respite.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 18 June 2016. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/nyregion/orlando-killings-rob-young-new-york-muslims-of-a-cherished-holiday-respite.html>.