Challenging Islamophobia

Ulia Zaman, Staff Writer

  On Friday, March 15th, I was getting ready to leave the house with my mother and two younger siblings to attend a Quran class at a mosque when I heard about the devastating attack in New Zealand. I was so shocked I had to reread the news for the reality to sink in. I couldn’t believe that someone would commit such a horrendous crime in a place that is meant for peaceful prayers.

  Unfortunately, as is the case with many hate crimes, one incident sparks 10,000 more all across the globe. On March 25th, there was another incident not too far from our home. Just a few miles north of San Diego, a mosque was graffitied and set on fire. Luckily, no was injured and other than a few blackened walls, not much damage was sustained. However, what really frightened me was the mentions of the New Zealand attack that were spray painted on the walls.

  After so many innocent lives were lost in New Zealand, the fact that some people on the other side of the world were inspired to commit their own sins is truly sickening. Thinking about the possibility of another crime occurring makes my heart tremble with fear. Why are these crimes occurring? What did those innocent people ever do that lead to their wrongful death? How can we prevent these dreadful crimes from repeating?

  In order to find a solution for this issue, one has to first understand the root cause: Islamophobia. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamophobia is defined as “a close-minded hatred, fear, or prejudice toward Islam and Muslims which results in discrimination, marginalization, or oppression.” Islamophobia is a very serious problem that has been growing in magnitude and expanding its impacts for years.

  When dealing with such an issue, we have to understand that when a crime, such as the New Zealand attack, occurs, it is not just an attack on Muslims; it’s an attack on all of humanity. It causes people of all religions to become afraid of practicing their religions and to turn against each other which only leads to more unrest.

  Although it may seem at times that the entire world hates a certain religion or a certain group of people, in reality, that is never the case. In fact, all of this hatred really only comes from a very small group of people that, for whatever insane reason, think that they are better than everyone else and that they have the right to take another person’s life. These are the toxic people that fuel distrust and suspicions between groups of people.

  As we have seen from countless examples in the past, a small group of people can easily create an impenetrable divide between people of different faiths through the use of terror and hate crimes. However, the reverse is also possible. This small group of people can just as easily be defeated if everyone else, the remaining billions of people in the world, stand up together, with arms linked, and refuse to give up each other’s human rights.

  Being able to live the way that you want and believe in the things that you want is a basic human right that every single person on this planet deserves. There is absolutely no excuse for refusing to allow a certain group of people to practice the faith that has guided them for millenials.

  It’s hard to believe that this world that supposedly claims to accept everyone as equal still discriminates against people simply because of what they wear, how they look, or what they believe in. How can you hate me simply because of the hijab that I wear? How can you ignore my humanity simply because I have different beliefs than you?

  The only way to prevent these issues from reoccurring in the future and to protect our future generations is to begin educating our youth today. One of the main reasons that these crimes are not coming to a stop is because many people are not even aware of the true extent of these problems and those that are aware either refuse to do anything about it or think that it’s not their place to intervene and that someone else will take care of it. Having such a mindset will never solve these issues.

  I am sick of hearing all these people around me pretending to care, but not doing anything to actually try to improve the situation. I think we all need to stop and think for a bit about how these issues affect us personally, what we have done about it, and what we can do. One of the best strategies that can help build strong relationships between people of different faiths is to become an example of your morals and beliefs. Making sure to always maintain your dignity and trying your best to avert harm from humanity will make others realize that there is absolutely no reason to hate anyone. In addition to this, you should always stay true to who you are, be polite, and turn negatives into positives. For instance, when a tragedy occurs, rather than using it as an excuse to spread more hate we should all use it as an opportunity to learn a lesson and build a stronger and closer community. Taking this first step together is the only way that we will ever be able find a solution for these issues and restore peace in our world.