Fear, hatred, or prejudice against Muslims is the definition of Islamophobia. On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 A.M., one of the most tragic events that occurred in the United States. From that day forward all U.S. citizens have remained impacted. The government implemented more security and media began to spike. Thus, Islamophobia infiltrated our schools, work, travel, and general social life.
Osama Bin Laden directed an Islamist Extremist group, otherwise known as Al Qaeda, to conduct the horrendous acts of 9/11. They overtook four planes and set them to crash into 3 sites: The Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a field in Pennsylvania. Due to these suicide attacks, thousands of people died. The goal of Al Qaeda was to terrify everyone, which they succeeded at. They managed to instill fear and paranoia into the minds of almost every American in the United States. This is where islamophobia has stemmed from. Even if a foreigner remotely looks like the stereotypical terrorist, panic strikes and situations are typically not handled appropriately. Islamophobia has causes ignorance and discrimination which leads to politically charged situations that unnecessarily put those who are innocent in harm’s way.
Security has gotten strict to the point where Muslims feel that they are feared. In a blog called #MuslimGirl written in 2016, a Muslim woman wrote, “After going through the standard security check like everyone else, I am taken into round two. The TSA manager communicates to me that they are about to do an elaborate body search and material search of my belongings”. Security became more biased against Muslim people since the terrorist on September 11th were Muslims. TSA usually have ‘random searches’ on Muslim people. 14 years after the attack “The Intercept obtained and published a confidential list of behaviors and traits TSA agents look out for. They range from “exaggerated yawning,” “gazing down” and “widely open staring eyes” to “face pale from recent shaving of beard,” “rubbing or wringing of hands” and “wearing improper attire for location” (O’Connor, 2016). Wearing improper attire for location does not mean that they are a suspect of being a terrorist. Most Muslims have to wear proper attire for their religion like a hijab, niqab, or a burka. They should not be searched for religious attire.
Muslims cannot speak their own language without having authorities or people around questioning them. A YouTube vlogger named Adam Saleh got kicked off a Delta Airline plane because a person next to him felt uncomfortable. He was taken through security again and the TSA did not find anything. The person sitting next to him could have just asked the attendant to move seats, but instead, Adam Saleh got kicked off to do extensive security search. There was also another situation where a couple got kicked off of a Delta Airline plane. The couple was sweating and were saying the word “Allah” which means God in Arabic. This does not mean that they are terrorists. This can simply mean that they were nervous to be on a plane. Muslims change their behavior to avoid contact with airport authorities. They should not have to be scared of being kicked out of an airport/airplane (Mahmoud, 2016).
Islamophobia has reached our youth. The Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) recorded data that 42% of Muslim parents with children in k-12 schools reported that their child has been bullied. This is compared to 23% Jewish and 20% Protestant parents. Not to mention, Muslims face 2x more bullying than the national average. Children do not even feel safe approaching their teachers, counselors, or school officials. This may be because 1 in 4 of them engage in bullying Muslim students as well, according to the ISPU (Ochieng, 2017).
Parents send their children to school for education and security. This is why it is intolerable for adults to actively mistreat these kids. It additionally raises the concern that young children are learning from this unacceptable behavior. This is a serious issue as it may go ignored or unrecognized. Kids of all ages and backgrounds deserve safety. Parents, Muslim or not, are encouraged to engage in asking their child questions about day-to-day school activities.
There are many ways that Islamophobia may show up in the workplace and several companies are working on executing strategies to stop it. At the same time, there are still numerous businesses struggling with discrimination against Muslims. Isalmophobia.org states “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures equality of employment opportunities by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion. Because an applicant’s religious views, and the need for the accommodation thereof, should not be any part of the basis for an employment decision..”. (Civil Rights Report, 2017). Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
reported, “40% of claims of workplace discrimination are made by Muslims even though they only account for 1% of the population”. (Fowler). A few ways Islamophobia may show up in the workplace are the following:
What needs to be recognized is that the Muslim community is a diverse group of people who go through day-to-day lives like anyone else. Organizations should set up programs and advancement efforts like those already in place for LGBTQ+, African Americans, and other groups of varied people. Leaders of companies are advised to remind their employees of their commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace of people of all backgrounds, and that all colleagues should be treated respectfully.
A hate crime is a criminal offense motivated by race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Hate crimes against Muslim groups or individuals have become a problem post-9/11. According to Newsweek.com, there were 481 reported crimes in 2001 while there were only 28 in 2000. From 2002 to 2014 crimes receded to a numerical range between 105-160 annually. In 2015, there were 257 hate crimes against Muslims; this was the highest level since 2001 and a surge of 67% over the previous year. Anti-Muslim hate crimes account for 4.4% of all reported hate crime, even though Muslims are estimated to be only 1% of the population. All these statistics do have a severe undercounting of crimes.
More examples of large spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes following terror attacks are listed below:
These facts are only recorded from the U. S’s largest 9 cities and do not account for the total number of recorded and non-recorded crimes against the Muslim Community.
A lot of hate and stereotypes stem from the media, news, and television. There is a ton of bias and negative portrayal of Muslims and Muslim countries. Most news agencies cover terrorism and crimes allegedly committed by Muslims in a very excessive manner. This creates fear for viewers and stirs up hatred against Muslims and Muslim affiliated groups. There is no doubt that the media has an “Islamophobic addiction” and fails to portray the entire image of the community.
In 2019 more than 90 American-Muslims ran for office. This resulted in two brave women, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, to become the first Muslim women elected to the U.S House of Representatives. This is a victory to the Muslim community, as their voices in the U.S. will be heard a little louder. When it comes to schools, some are implementing a Countering Anti-Muslim Racism curriculum. Most educators, parents, students, and general people are encouraged to take workshops to learn about Islam and Islamophobia.
People and corporations need to take action to fight against Islamophobia. There are many different options to get involved:
Learning about Islam and Islamophobia can be done from research through respectable sources, class, workshops, and speaking to an individual from the community. The best way to learn about Islamophobia is through building relationships with Muslim individuals. This could include a friend, a peer, or a co-worker. It is additionally important to interfere with Islamophobia and to stand in solidarity with our friends and neighbors. This may include preventing bullying, protesting, keeping updated on unruly actions, and etc. In addition, as mentioned before, cooling down media inflection is also imperative.
Islamophobia is complex but not definite. Think of your child, a friend, a partner, and imagine if you had to fight for their rights. If enough people work together, we will start to slow down the hatred and make our world a safer place for Muslims. It is very important to raise awareness of the issue so that our youth is educated and the bigotry comes to an end. Just because it is not you does not mean it is not us, the United States of America.
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