Fear prejudice, not Muslim neighbors

Nick Abraham, Staff Reporter


All it took was a casual conversation in P.E. among friends for the dreaded subject to arise: Donald Trump’s proposed policy to ban Muslims from entering the US. Even among people who agree that Trump’s proposal is extreme, many share his fear of Islam, and disproportionately blame its supporters for global  terror attacks. As an Arab-American with strong Muslim lineage, I find this devastating, because the Islam that I know preaches peace and tolerance.

I myself have been asked whether or not I or my friends and family support attacks like the one in Paris. .  This is equivalent to asking a Christian whether or not they think the Planned Parenthood shooting was justified. It is the same as asking a Jew whether or not they support attacks on innocent Palestinians. Just because I or anyone in my family are Arab, and just because my relatives are Muslim, does not make them supporters of senseless violence.

According to the FBI, of all of the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States between 1980 and 2005, 94 percent were committed by non-Muslims. Additionally, a 2014 study done by the University of North Carolina showed that less than 0.0002 percent of homicides in the US since 9/11 were committed by Muslims.

And yet, the false image of Muslims as terrorists persists.

The mainstream media is partially to blame, as it only reports on Islamic activity when it’s related to terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, which neither follow nor represent the ideals of Islam.

These same networks do not report on mosques feeding the poor, or partnering with synagogues and churches to do charity work. They did not report on the Muslim organization that donated 30,000 bottles of water to Flint, Michigan amidst a water crisis.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. To paint them all with a broad brush means criticizing peaceful people who should be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like anyone else. Muslims should not have to constantly defend the integrity of their religion.

Many people have a predisposed idea of what Islam is without actually knowing what it is,” said freshman Yasemin Agi. “Islam is not a violent religion, and when people say that, they usually quote the Quran out of context.”

Every major religion has extremists, but they are a miniscule minority, and we cannot condemn an entire religion for the actions of a few violent radicals.

Furthermore, anti-Islam rhetoric doesn’t help defeat terrorism, it helps terrorist organizations radicalize other Muslims. Recently, a Somalian Al-Qaeda propaganda video used a video of Trump’s call to ban Muslims as a form of recruitment.  Islamophobes are playing into the hands of groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram, by making it seem like the West is at war with Islam.

“If we’re worried about ISIS, hating mainstream, peace-loving Muslims feeds into their machine,” said history teacher Lydia Cuffman. “It hurts us, it hurts the view the rest of the world has of us, and it makes us look like really big hypocrites.”

The values that we take the most pride in at Sequoia are those of diversity, and universal equal treatment, regardless of race, sexuality, or gender. To uphold these values, we, not only as Sequoia students, but as Americans and as humans, need to recognize that diversity of religion deserves the same respect. In order for not only our local communities, but our country and world to be safer for everyone, we need to stop profiling others just because they wear a headscarf or worship a different God.