Islamophobia: An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is
perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.
“I would like to convey that others should learn about a religion before discriminating. Being Muslim means that I help the poor, help family members, and help friends,” says Gabriel Herz-Khan (‘18).
Our country is currently facing a major crisis: the discrimination against Muslims. However, it is not only affecting our country but also our community and it is rooted from one simple issue: the uneducation on the Muslim religion, terrorism, and misconceptions drawn by the media.
According to the FBI, 94% of the terrorist attacks carried out in the United States have been by non-Muslims. Also, worldwide there have been 170,000 terrorist attacks committed since 1970, and only 0.0009% of those have been executed by Muslims. These facts show that terrorism is not only a Muslim action, but rarely performed by a Muslim, so why so we associate terrorism with Islam?
“Media needs to stop. One of the things that happened after September 11th, if you watched tv, all of the bad guys and criminals switched from being black people to being Muslim people. When you start looking at shows like 24 and looking in movies it’s all about terrorism, and the terrorists are always Muslim. Before it used to be that the African-Americans were really villainized. That puts it in the backs of people’s minds of who these people are, but when you start looking at the religion and the Qu’ran, the five pillars of Islam, it’s actually quite a beautiful religion that has been morphed,” says Brian Zottoli, ORHS history teacher.
Although this uneducated assumption of Muslims is a national issue, it also has affected members of our community.
“My family has seen discrimination. My mother and I are white so this seems to stop any stereotypes towards us, but my sister wears a headscarf (hijab) and I notice walking into stores with her that people pay more attention to me and her more than anyone else. I know that living in Canada where my sister is in school is very different but I believe that in the U.S. my sister isn’t as safe as she should be,” says Hertz-Khan. This proves that being discriminated against for being a Muslim is a severe problem in our nation, and although it is present in other countries it needs to be acted upon.
As you’ve probably noticed in media, whenever a story is realized it must be pointed out specific aspects of the perpetrator. For example, if a man goes into a building and shoots innocent people, it can never be left at just the man’s name, but it must be, per say, a Muslim Man or a Black Man. According to an analysis done by Mint Press News, 60% of all facts reported by Fox News are incorrect, and this goes for many national news stations.
“In America what’s happened is that it’s really more important to get the breaking story first, rather than get an accurate story. Constantly what people will do is they’ll react to something like, Prince died so he must be using drugs and then if it turns out he had a heart attack later that media outlet will do a disclaimer. There should be more responsibility, because I think that’s lacking. We need more education on all religions in schools, but that’s kind of a taboo thing,” says Zottoli.
This conflict of interest with educating students in school about religion yet having close-minding people who are not open to that is a severe issue. How aggravating is it that the simple solution to the issue stems from education, yet we are unable to progressively do so.