Islamphobia: A Different Kind Of Terror

Islamphobia: A Different Kind Of Terror

Prejudice and violence go hand-in-hand.
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Post-9/11 American society is a fearful place.

Fear of violence is ever prevalent in this country, which has been rattled with acts of terrorism and hate. It seems that the easiest way to combat potential violence is to choose a target people and ostracize them until the threat subsides.

Over the last century, Americans have displayed prejudice, discrimination, and hatred towards Islam and Muslims as a way to blame the current crisis of violence and terror in America on a large population. This act of hatred is called Islamphobia. Islamphobic individuals engage in hatred towards all Muslims and stereotype Islamic culture as promoting radicalism, danger, extremism, and violence.

I read a story recently of a Muslim woman and her baby being kicked off of a bus because the bus driver did not want to drive them due to religious differences. This is discrimination and denying services to a person based on religion. However, this act of discrimination stems from Islamphobia as a cultural narrative of hatred towards marginalized groups.

The anti-Islam rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald Trump is an example of Islamphobia used to spark an emotional reaction among the American people. After the devastating events of terror at the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans are likely to always have an heightened response to the mention of terror. However, our emotional reactions are no excuse for targeting a specific religion, culture, or people.

Emotional reactions to horrific events exacerbate discrimination towards marginalized groups because we often stereotype to come to conclusions quickly. For instance, after the tragic shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, many quickly jumped on the bandwagon to call the shooting an act of Islamic terrorism. It was later discovered that the violence was a hate crime towards the LGBTQ community by an individual who questioned his sexuality.

There are groups of religious extremists who commit horrible, heinous acts of violence- but this should not reflect on the religion as a whole. To discriminate against those who practice a common religion because their religion has been used by extremists to justify violence is unfair. We should fear violence, we should fear terror, but we should never fear innocent people because of the religion they practice. Displaying prejudice towards Muslims and Islam is marginalizing to a large populous of peaceful people practicing religion.

The Washington Post featured an insightful article about human reaction to tragedy- and how easy it is to use our emotions to quickly point fingers and place blame on people who are not responsible. This leads to policies that incriminate large groups of people based on stereotype. As said in the article, "anger and sorrow are not substitutes for knowledge". Politicians like Donald Trump cater to extremist anti-Muslim views and appeal to the emotions of people during times of crisis. This is a terrible and inhumane way to run a country.

Americans have been manifested hatred towards minority groups since formation of our country. After 9/11, Muslims became the concentration of hate and have continued to endure prejudice ever since. In the past, the same religious hatred has targeted Jews and Catholics. Racially, we see the same phenomenon presently with African Americans, and previously with Japanese Americans.

Prejudice is not a new concept. The fear lies in prejudice policy. Donald Trump has gone on record saying that he wants to prevent Muslim immigrants from entering the United States for a period of time. This is not just prejudice, but an act of discrimination. Politicians will continue to feed off of extremist views and emotional responses to make policies that stem from stereotypes. This is not what our country stands for. No person deserves to feel underrepresented, feared, misunderstood, or unheard because of their religion.

I urge you to stand in solidarity with Islam. Do not simply post about it on Facebook, but make strides to act out equality in everyday life. Do not allow people to marginalize Muslims and refer to them as dangerous, violent, or criminal. Every group of people has extremists.

A Pew Research Study places the number of Muslims worldwide to be around 1.6 billion (or 23% of the world's population). So doing some basic math, we get that about .00006625% of the Muslim population are "extremist". - Pew Research Center

Islamphobia is prejudice. Prejudice and violence go hand in hand. To display hatred towards a group of people is just as damaging as violence. Please, think before you use stereotypes and work towards creating cultureal and religious equality in society.

"We did not blame Germans for Hitler. We did not blame Christians for the KKK. Do not blame Muslims for ISIS." - Unknown.

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Learn more at:

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Washington Post Article

Pew Research Center

Cover Image Credit: Modern Diplomacy

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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A Mosque Is A Home

As-Salaam-Alaikum. Peace be upon you.

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This past Friday, a savage attack ripped through the Christchurch, New Zealand community as a gunman rained fire on the Linwood and Al Noor Mosques during Friday prayers (commonly known as Jummah prayers in Muslim communities) that left 41 dead and 48 people, including young children, injured. The attack sparked a collective ripple of international outrage, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemning the incident as "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and the UN security council calling it "heinous, cowardly" and unjustifiable.

The motivation for the attack was detailed in an online 74-page manifesto rife with hatred against immigrants, symbols of white supremacist ideology, and a call to arms against Muslims worldwide in retaliation for what he claims is the "decaying" culture of the white, European, Western world.

As a Muslim American who has lived nearly his entire life under the shadow of Islamophobia and xenophobic slander, I'm no stranger to the racism and far-right vitriol that this psychopath embodies.

I've learned to watch, with almost a detached acceptance, as our communities and our religious faith was derailed and dehumanized by hordes of white supremacists. Muslims all over the world have experienced these sentiments of hatred by those who feel that their very existence in their host nation is a credible threat — as if we were somehow the enemy, as if all Muslims (who consist of a plethora of diverse backgrounds) were nothing less than "targets" who should be marginalized for the sake of restoring the status quo of days gone by.

As shocking as this attack is, the motivations behind it are not new to me — it is a buildup of the symptoms of the rising tide of far-right extremism experienced across the world. The most shocking thing to me about this attack was that it happened at a Mosque during our Friday prayers.

Our mosques are our houses of worship, similar to Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, and our weekly sermons occur on Friday afternoons. It is a time for our communities to gather not just in prayer, but also in solidarity. We congregate and ask about our lives, and we spend time together as brothers and sisters in faith and in humanity in our mosques. Traditional marriages are held in our mosques, as are celebrations and the passings of our community members.

A mosque is not simply a place for us to pray — it is the bedrock of our community, the foundation by which we share ties as a people.

An attack on our mosques is an attack on our home, the very symbol of our faith, and our values of love and respect for humankind that our religion espouses. The slaughter of so many innocent men, women, and children in a house of worship is a savage crime without basis or justification. Terrorism has no religion.

To the people of Christchurch — my heart goes out to you all, and my prayers are with you always. I stand with you all against racism and bigotry. Hatred cannot and will not win as long as Love is there to drive it out.

To my friends and family — thank you for being there for me and my community during our hard times and our happy ones. Your love is cherished so much more than you will ever know, and we are blessed to have you in our lives. May the love you show us be reciprocated to you 100 times over.

As-Salaam-Alaikum. Peace be upon you.

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