Uniting Against Divisive Forces

Spreading Islamophobia is not an appropriate response to terrorism

In times of catastrophe, disaster and misfortune, people unite and stand as one. This is true for families; it is true for communities, and it is true for countries. Without a doubt, it is true for the United States of America. The most recent and obvious example of this phenomenon was our reaction to the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris this November. Our country collectively mourned the loss of over a hundred innocent lives and stood together in solitude against the horrific attacks. We respond in this manner to show that we are still strong and that we are superior to the attackers. We recognize that when we stand together we are stronger than when we are apart – that being divisive does not get us anywhere. And yet, for some reason, many of us refuse to stand with Muslim Americans.

Islamophobia is real, and it is rampant. It existed well before Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and there seem to be no signs of it slowing down. It has created a stigma surrounding Muslim Americans, fueling hatred and xenophobia throughout a country that was founded on the principles of equality and justice. Even if the majority of politicians have denounced Trump’s extreme plan to ban all Muslims from America, many have still contributed to the rise of Islamophobia. Trump’s suggestion of closely monitoring mosques did not receive nearly as much criticism and backlash from conservative politicians. Presidential candidate Ben Carson has said that he would not support having a Muslim as the president of the United States. He further expressed these sentiments by likening Muslim refugees to rabid dogs. Rather than standing behind innocent Muslim Americans, many have elected to alienate them and declare them our enemy. In a time when working together and standing as one is extremely vital, we have chosen instead to remain divided.

This type of response – one of intolerance and ignorance – plays right into the Islamic State’s hands. By portraying Muslims as America’s enemy, we push them further away, increasing the possibility that they side with ISIS. When we treat all Muslims as wild animals and savage creatures, it has nothing but a detrimental effect on our relationship. This is not what we want to be doing at this time. In order to defeat the extremist groups that threaten to terrorize our nation, we must join together with the Muslim majority. With approximately three million Muslims currently residing in America, we must display our unity and stand with them during this time of terror. The alternative of pushing them toward the other side seems dangerously disadvantageous.

This is an issue that is extremely complex and seems to yield no easy solution. It is times like these when we must rely on our strength as a nation and the values for which we stand. This is not a time for separation, division and alienation. Rather, we must show our solidarity as we have done time and time again. To spread the notion that an entire group of people is our enemy is ludicrous and undemocratic. The vast majority of Muslim Americans are lawabiding citizens, contributing to what makes America great. If we stand with them, they will contribute to the fight against extremists whose views do not reflect those of their religion. Unity has always been our solution during times of crisis. We must stand with Muslim Americans, and they will stand with us.

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