Originally Published in The Davidsonion
I want to preface this article with an admission that I do not know much about politics, at least when compared to other people in the Davidson community. However, I think that the political situation in America is dire now with presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson running. Recently, terrorism motivated by Islam has dominated the news. In addition to this, there are a lot of discussions on the news about regular Islamophobic comments from high-profile. It is not looking like the future for Muslim-Americans will get any better. In fact, I predict that it will get worse. Although, these terrorists are despicable, I can’t blame them for what is going on. The fact of the matter is that Muslim-Americans are less likely to kill someone than other Americans, and that Islam can coordinate with American values just as much as Christianity.
Furthermore, if Americans will extrapolate what other Muslims are doing around the world, they should at least take into account the effects of American foreign policy. The media is mostly at fault. They have created a narrative in which Muslims are solely defined as the perpetrators of violence. This is not just limited to Fox News, but includes other sensationalist media sources and TV producers who love making Muslims the bad guys. This will take years to dismantle. Whether this is an accident or done very intentionally is a difficult question to answer and does not have a simple answer. What is for certain though is that it is important to dismantle this narrative as much as possible because if we do not, we will go against American values such as freedom and tolerance. The best way to start the dismantling is by pondering statistics like this one: according to the FBI, 94 percent of the terror attacks that were committed in the USA from 1980 to 2005 were done by non-Muslims. It has not changed much either. According to thereligionofpeace.com, a website that warns that “Islam is dreadfully unique”, there have been two mass-shootings in America committed by Muslims. Although as the Quran beautifully states, ““Whosoever killed a person… It shall be as if he killed all mankind”(5:33), considering there have been a few hundred mass-shootings this year, two shootings is a small number. Yet this reality hardly appears the case on the news.
Chances are, unless you are actually Muslim, most of the times you hear words like “Islam”, “Muslim,” or “Allah Akbar,” it is in a negative context. By actually being aware of these statistics, one can begin to imagine how what their mind is telling them is wrong. If the news spent the same proportion of time covering each mass shooting in America, then at maximum one percent of the media covering mass shootings would be about American-Muslim shootings. Obviously, this issue is a lot more complex, but that doesn’t mean that the media gets to exploit the complexities and fill their airtime with Muslims blowing things up. Ever since 9/11, we have been watching Muslims here in America and abroad committing almost every kind of atrocity imaginable. People will have to understand more about what is actually written in the Quran, and how most people who have interpreted it over the years come nowhere close to how ISIS does. Befriending Muslim people is possible and should be done. If people learn about Muslims doing good things for just a fraction of the time they did watching Muslims on the news, it is certainly possible that Islamophobia will stop in this country.
The saddest result of the media’s portrayal of Muslims is that even Muslim-Americans have absorbed the Islamophobia. A few months ago in the airport, I saw a woman in a niqab with gloves covering her hands sitting on the ground in the corner. My immediate gut reaction was fear. Even though I am a Muslim, I do not know many people who wear niqabs. If this was my reaction, I cannot imagine what other people’s reactions might be. There was no need for me to be scared. The truth is that the next successful terrorist in America will almost certainly not be a niqab-wearing woman.