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The ebb and flow of Islamophobia in the U.S. since 9/11

Sara Gunerante/The Round Table

Sara Gunerante/The Round Table

Fifteen years ago, the world as we knew it was changed when two planes were flown into the World Trade Center on September 11th. Though most of us were under ten years old at the time, we have grown up in the post 9/11 world, where the possibility of another attack looms constantly.

Our immediate response was to look for something to blame. Our first target was the mastermind of the attack and the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden. United States struck out on a ten year manhunt, which ended on May 2, 2011 when a Navy Seal team stormed his hideout and killed him, but we were not finished.

Our second target was al-Qaeda, the radical muslim extremist terrorist group founded by Bin Laden. This second target resulted in the war in Afghanistan, which we quickly rushed into in the aftermath of the attacks. Looking back, it is largely recognized that we should have never entered the war in Afghanistan, and many Americans see this as our greatest mistake, still, our mistakes after 9/11 had just begun.

The third target was the religion of Islam Perceptions of Islam have become increasingly warped since the attacks. Many Americans feel like it is right to be suspicious of Muslims, and would go as far to keep people out of this country due to their religious beliefs. They believe that the Islamic religion promotes violence and hatred, hatred specifically directed at the United States.

These sentiments are entirely based on the images that have been created by Muslim extremists. What people do not understand is that in total al-Qaeda has around 200 people in it, and there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Because of the actions of .001 percent of Muslims, we believe that all of them are willing to attack the United States. This past March Donald Trump said, “It’s 27 percent, could be 35 percent, would go to war, would — the hatred is tremendous.” This would mean that 250-300 million Muslims are ready to attack the United States right now.Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center has said that these numbers are absolute nonsense. Still, rhetoric like that of Trump’s perpetuates an image of Muslims as hateful terrorists, when the reality could not be further from the truth.

The fear of Islam has been festering for the past fifteen years. Somehow we have become even more suspicious of Muslims, made broader generalizations, and fostered the idea that religion determines patriotism We live in fear of this religionbecause we feel it is responsible for the 3,000 innocent citizens who died in the 9/11 attacks. Our fear has led to rash decision making at the cost of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet we still search for ways to blame Islam.

Some argue that Islam and other religions can never coexist because they are too radically different. The truth is Islam, Christianity, Judaism are fundamentally the same: they all believe in the same God, they all believe in the 10 Commandments, and they all promote peace and love among their followers. The main variances in these religions, are their prophets and saviors, but they all originate from the same religion. The idea that these faiths are not compatible is ridiculous, these religions grew from each other and have been living together for thousands of years.

Others state that Muslims are taught to hate Christians and Jews, but they have a phrase in their religious document that protects Jews and Christians. In the Koran, there is a section about the word “dhimmi,” which translates to the “people of the book,” and in this section there are stated protections for religions that believe in the same God. The concept of dhimmi has, in the past, led several civilizations to peace and prosperity and I see no reason why it cannot still work for everyone today.

Finally, Islam does not promote violence any more than any other religion. There will always be people who misinterpret religious texts and use them to for crusades that are damaging crusades. Many people hesitate to focus on Christian terrorist groups that are still very active in the United States. Groups like the KKK and The Lord’s Resistance Army are still very active in today’s society, and yet all Christians are not labelled as terrorists. The double standards Islam faces in comparison to Christianity is astounding. We need to face our own demons in our own country before we can start pointing fingers at other groups of people.

Our target groups have gotten larger, and it leads one to wonder. “Who will be next in this pointless crusade? How many people have to die before we find our justice?” We cannot continue down this path of hatred. We do not have the money, the means, or the manpower to declare war on Islam. Today, we need to move towards peace. America has to own up to its mistakes and realize that the ability of extremists to turn peaceful texts into war manifestos makes them the real enemy.

Islamophobia has not been getting better in the United States since 9/11, and it’s about time we do something about it. There is absolutely no validity to the idea that Islam poses a threat to the United States and the fact that we would even consider barring the entrance of certain refugees from entering the country based on their religion absolutely sickens me. On 9/11, our world changed forever, but instead of healing our wounds, we have started attacking the make believe cancer that is Islam. The worst result of the attack by far has been our continued ignorance and unwillingness to learn from our past mistakes, instead continuing to pursue Islam as a threat.

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