We also are Americans

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Originally posted in Contra Costa Times

The merciless murder of three Americans at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is troubling.

Wait … three Americans? Yes. They were Americans — born and raised. They just happened to be Muslim.

Whether this brutality was a villainous hate-crime or a response to a petty parking dispute, or both, remains undetermined, but it has sparked a necessary discussion on the intensifying anti-Muslim sentiment in our country.

Just in the past month, the Rev. Franklin Graham, a Christian evangelist and missionary, made the astonishing and ignorant proclamation that Muslims all over the world are rapists and butchers. And the racist portrayal of Arabs and Muslims in the movie, “American Sniper,” has average Americans exploding over social media labeling Muslims as barbarians and wishing for their — our — death.

“Troubling” does not even begin to describe it.

I, a Muslim and an American, extend my most heartfelt condolences to the families of these victims. But here’s the deal: Many Muslims are in the United States for a reason: the freedom it offers, the equal opportunity it promises, and the democracy, diversity, and unity.

Some of us were born here, some of us are immigrants, but we love this country. We are Americans, just like you. Treat us as such.

About the author

Sajeel Malik

Sajeel Malik is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Neuroscience. He is currently the West Coast Regional Representative for the Muslim Writers Guild of America and has published in a variety of local and national newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and the Houston Chronicle. Originally a native of Houston, Texas, he is a basketball fanatic, and he ultimately hopes to become a practicing physician.

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By Sajeel Malik