“Sometimes, I am afraid to be a Muslim in America,” a friend of mine told me on a regular afternoon while thinking of the story she had just read of an innocent Muslim being pushed into the path of a running train, “We are normal people [who do] normal things.”
My friend is just one of the many Muslim citizens of the United States who experiences discrimination and hate for practicing a religion largely clouded by dangerous misconceptions. Increasingly, the perception of the average American of Islam has grown into a tunnel-vision scope of violence. However, if you were to sit down with one of the mass majority of willing Muslims, they would tell you, “We are all about peace,” as my friend stated, followed by an explanation of the word asalamalakum- an Islamic term that begs “peace.”
Many Muslim-Americans can tell you tales of discrimination, whether they include being called a terrorist at a shopping mall, being waved down and threatened by strangers at a red light on a random street, or having been subjected to “random” searches for weapons at airports. These are not rare occurrences encountered by lone Muslims- they are more frequent than should be socially acceptable in a country renowned for it’s supposed religious tolerance. And the scariest fact of the matter- this destructive view of Islam is only gaining momentum.
“Since Donald Trump and all these states closing out Syrian refugees, I’ve been getting more negativity,” said a Muslim student I go to school with. Proponents of Islamophobia such as Donald Trump and the other highly-publicised GOP figures are not only harming those Muslims that live in America and feel the ramifications of such politically driven campaign tactics in blatant acts of religious intolerance, but innocent Syrians fleeing from a war-torn country are also faced with the heartbreaking consequences of such widespread misconceptions.
Regional governments and locally elected officials have created news since the November 13th Paris terrorist attacks by refusing to allow innocent and desperate Syrian refugees into their borders for fear of a repeat of the Paris tragedy. 31 states in the United States, including Georgia, have closed their borders and jurisdiction to the searching refugees. Republican President-Elect Donald Trump has created buzz recently by saying, “I think that we should definitely disallow any Muslims from coming in. Any of them. The reason is simple: we can't identify what their attitude is.”
The attitude of the overwhelming majority is simple: desperation. All but a very minuscule few, want nothing more than safety and protection from the country known from sea to shining sea as a haven for all those whom are innocent and hurt. To refuse our help to the people in the world who need it most because of a crippling fear of an attack that has not yet come is a direct contradiction to the fundamental principles and beliefs that the United States was founded on. Closing our borders means we are admitting to being religiously intolerant- a terrified nation too consumed with what could happen to help those experiencing a horror that is occurring and can not be ignored..
Muslim does not equate to terrorist. Islam is not a violent religion. Not only is the banning of individuals from the United States because of the religion they practice unconstitutional, but it also tells a tale of the character of our nation- something much more terrifying for the future than the possibility of any extremist group.