Islamophobia a force to be combated in U.S., abroad

In light of recent and tragic events, hostility towards followers of Islam has become prevalent in the United States. It has become all too common to see an angry Facebook post denouncing all Muslims. I can barely remember a time when I went online and didn’t see at least one post calling all Muslims, or even all refugees, terrorists.

It saddens me to think that people are so afraid of what they don’t know that they are turning to hate. Private businesses are allowed to close their doors to Muslim customers. Women are verbally abused while walking down the street because they are wearing hijabs. Even scarier is the hateful rhetoric surrounding the recent terror attacks in Belgium and Pakistan.

Presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz have suggested implementing drastic security measures, from patrolling Muslim neighborhoods to closing our borders to the Muslim people.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m witnessing the beginning of the next Civil Rights Movement. Sometimes I even feel as if I’m witnessing the beginning of the next World War. This may sound extreme, but the tensions building toward Islamic people all over the world should not be ignored.

The word Islamophobia is a recent addition to the lexicon, but it stands for a very real issue. It is defined by Google as the “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force,” and people are embracing it.

Politicians like Donald Trump have called to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and the scariest part is that people are supporting him.

It is a great injustice toward the followers of Islam that we should characterize them as extremists and terrorists.

I’ll admit I do not know much about the teachings of the Qur’an, but the followers of Islam who are committing crimes against humanity are not the majority. According to a June 25, 2015 article in Time Magazine, in the years since 9/11, white extremists have killed nearly twice as many Americans than radical Islamists have. These are people who manipulate the teachings of their religion to back their own agendas.

ISIS is not synonymous with Islam. ISIS is a group of Muslim terrorists who want everyone to follow them and their “true faith.” ISIS does not kill exclusively non-Muslims, but also Muslims who do not conform to their message of hatred and war. Many of the refugees we marginalize as terrorists are refugees because they are fleeing terrorists.

As Americans, we should not fear what we do not understand. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. CNN predicts that there will be nearly nine million Muslims in the world by the year 2050. So, instead of condemning an entire group of people for the terrible acts of violent extremists, we should try to learn and understand the Muslim people. We all need to understand that Muslim is not synonymous with terrorist.

If we do not work to achieve harmony, we cannot truly consider ourselves a united nation. Let us think before condemning and begin to work with the Muslim community to achieve peace. If we do not stand together, we will surely fall.