One nation, under Islamaphobia

“One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” When I reached high school, I stopped reciting the pledge of allegiance. It made me uncomfortable, and I could never figure out why until now. It’s not true. Here’s the thing: this country does not give freedom or ascribe equality to all its members. The U.S. was built on white supremacy from its foundation with the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans. This history is important, overlooked, and still affects people of color today.

I spent my childhood in the shadow of 9/11. Let me tell you, children can be cruel. Some of my peers had such misconstrued views about Islam that I fear they still hold today. As Muslim-Americans, my family and I had to consciously act safe. We needed to not be perceived as threats to the perverted, uneducated, American image of a Muslim. I wanted to be seen as equal, and I had to work for it, because that’s what minorities do in America; we strive for the equality and respect that is reserved for White Americans.

As Muslims, we have to monitor our actions and speech 24/7 to be seen as safe. We know to add three extra hours to our journey when we travel to account for the TSA’s “random selection” process. For the Muslims of color, we know that when most people look at us and see our darker skin, they already have marked us as “other” and there is only a small chance we can change their minds. Is that equality?

Was I treated equally when I learned about Christianity in school, but no one took the time to learn about my faith? Is it not important for children to learn about the most practiced religion in the world? Is it fair that I feel the need to educate the public because they don’t give Muslims the respect to learn about our beliefs or traditions? If the U.S. is built on equality, and if I am a valued and equal member of the community, then my experience has not been just.

A few weeks ago, terrorists associated with ISIS brutally murdered 130 people through suicide bombings and execution style shooting in public places. These attacks were unjustified, cruel, and evil. These attacks were not Islamic.

Since the Paris attacks, people who know nothing about our religion have unfairly targeted Muslims with Islamophobic and racist comments. After logging onto Facebook the weekend after, I was slammed with hatred. I panicked as I read odious messages: “It doesn’t matter that the majority of Muslims are peaceful. We need to stop being PC towards Muslims;” “Obama wants more fucking Muslim refugees;” “Second-generation Muslim-Americans are killing our country.”

To those who posted these bigoted messages and members of the community that propagate these ideas: how could you?

How could you spread such hatred towards Muslim-Americans when you know nothing about Islam? Why would you believe mainstream media without doing any outside research? How can you associate billions of peaceful Muslims with a terrorist organization that does not follow the peaceful tenets of Islam? How dare you spread ignorant and bigoted points of view to others? I have always known I was different, but I have never felt so ostracized in my entire life.

Honestly, White Americans are hypocritical if they believe all Muslims pose a threat. Most school shooters have been white men, therefore, it is only logical that the government register all white men in a database, invade their privacy, and treat them like criminals. With the logic that has been thrown at me, this proposition is nothing but logical if we want America to be safe from evil.

It matters that most Muslims are peaceful, and it is important that Muslims are given respect. One cannot be a “second-generation Muslim.” Islam is a religion, not a race. However, second generation American-Muslim citizens are not killing the U.S. On the other hand, our futures are being destroyed by bigoted and racist ideologies. These ideas generalize a large and diverse group of people spread all around the world. There is no stereotypical Muslim.

I ask that you don’t disguise hatred as a “belief” or an “opinion,” especially if you are not versed in Islam. No, learning the basic beliefs will not magically turn you into a terrorist. Even if you think I’m wrong, I challenge you to engage in discourse with an open mind. I ask that you be polite while doing so and realize that many people are still hurting.

I am brown, and I am Muslim, but I will not apologize for that. If you truly believe in liberty, let me live my life without judgment. If you believe in equality, respect me enough to learn about my religion and my culture. And for the love of God, please stop associating ISIS with Islam.

One Comment

Leave a Reply