As an Islamic New Yorker the stigma attached to Islam is not only barbaric, but also extremely ignorant.
Many may argue with me that Islam is: a “false religion,” or worst of all that Muslims are only good for causing havoc and destruction. These misconceptions not only shun the teachings we aim to instill into the youth of tomorrow, they equally destroy all of the distance and growth we’ve achieved from the past to the now.
The now includes: #DesPrieresPourParis #PorteOuverte – two of the most popular hash-tags associated with the tragic carnage in Paris. This is far from growth. On Friday, the 13th of November 15, at least 128 lives were lost in Paris. A state of emergency was declared on the 13th by the French President Francois Hollande and is still in place. This is the first state of emergency in almost a decade, the last one taking place in 2005 due to riots in poor suburbs.
As a New Yorker for the past 21 years, the French declaration of a state of emergency brought back all too familiar memories of the heart-breaking September 11 attacks. I can still remember looking through my elementary school window, seeing black smoke exerting from one of the two towers. It was horrific to say the least. I also recall my teacher, Mr. Marzo informing us that the entire world stood with us on that day – Paris included.
In this fast paced environment we’ve grown so accustom to, we sometimes as New Yorkers forget our roots. Had it not been for the French, our beloved Statue of Liberty would not even be “ours”. The world is where it is today thanks to the helping hands we’ve all lent one another over the history of time. On the contrary, the world is also not where it could be today thanks to greed and deception.
Early Friday evening, the media expressed “it’s highly unlikely that ISIS is the culprit behind these Paris attacks”. The gunshots on Le Carillon Bar in the rue Alibert as well as Le Petit Cambodge, the gunshots on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi, the three explosions outside of the Stade de France, and the gruesome attacks at La Belle Equipe of the 11th district; are all indeed confirmed ISIS attacks.
ISIS stands for “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”. Though the word Islamic is involved with the active acronym ISIS; ISIS should not be the sole or any type of ambassador for Islam, despite the way it is portrayed in the media.
Working part-time and attending Hunter College full time, I still manage to be an avid social media user. Often I witness posts about “banning Mosques from your neighborhood” or “why Islam is the religion of all terrorists” and I can’t help myself from laughing; ignoramus I think. From November 13th, 2015 to now I’ve read post that exemplify “Beheading all Muslims”, “getting revenge for what they did”, and my favorite “if you see one, hit one”. What? How can you ‘see’ a Muslim? You do not have affirmation of anything about anyone, unless you get it directly from the source. The source is said person and the only way to acquire that information is by asking. It is absolutely disgusting, as well as shameful. Not only is it discriminative, however hypocritical as well.
As Americans, we fight and aim to protect our own at any costs. But did you know there are over 2.6 billion Muslims on our Planet Earth? With the population at 7.3 billion and still rising, that’s a bit more than 35% of humans identifying as Islamic believers. As the population rises, the percentage of Islamic believers will rise with it. Now if all Muslims are terrorists, riddle me why there is not a havoc of simultaneous worldwide chaos?
Would we not all join forces to construct such a powerful force and unstoppable plan? Wouldn’t we all be walking around with AK-47s and suicide-bombing vests?
Or maybe all 2.6+ billion of us would prance around, shouting “Allahu Akbar” seconds before we blow the brains out the head of a four-year-old child, right?
What I’m hypothetically suggesting sounds foolish and barbaric, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s foolish and barbaric to classify one whole group based on the action of a few individuals. If this were the message taught in school while I acquired my childhood education, my life would not have played out the way it has.
I would despise and taunt my half-German cousins, since Adolf Hitler was German.
I would not trust any American and perhaps would lie about where I was born as a result of the terrorist attacks inflicted on Hiroshima – by our very own Uncle Sam.
Maybe I would see a Christian leaving Church, open my mouth and say: “How could you follow a religion that supports the Ku Klux Klan? What kind of person are you!” just as people have seen me leaving Mosque in a hijāb and yell “Terrorist! Go back to your country!” Meanwhile…I am born and raised American.
“Allahu Akbar” (UL-LAW-WHO-ACK-BAR) translates from Arabic to English as: God the Greatest. In Islam this is commonly used for a wide range of doing. One can say Allahu Akbar before a prayer, before bed, while taking a walk, or just because. This is a phrase I’ve noticed utilized by ISIS and/or al-Qaeda terrorists. While the Qur’an does state this phrase and teachings such as the “Sharia Law”, it is up to the reader to interpret and is intended to promote rightdoing.
For those of you on the other end of the screen, wondering why this “Muslim” is still trying to convince me she and her people are not terrorists: let me pick your brain for a minute.
Imagine the families in other countries, countries that our (yes our, because I am American too) troops invade. These families see our troops, in their U.S uniform – with guns, knives, and straight faces, ready to kill. As per government command, they’re murdering innocent women, men, and children. Our troops, their terrorists.
I’m not saying there’s no such thing as a Muslim terrorist; I’m saying terrorism knows no race, religion, or border. To stereotype one religion as the only type of terrorist’s out there is not only ignorant, it’s excruciatingly ugly. When we need blood transfers we don’t tell the Doctor “make sure that’s Christian blood ya got there, doc”, do we? No, and because at that moment religion does not exist. All that matters is another human life potentially saving yours. As humans we are supposed to be the most advanced species, yet we still separate ourselves based on race, class, and religion. We all bleed, we all breed.
While the media often portrays the wrong story and has a way to manipulate our minds to believing what they do, this is where social media comes to play. The media only covered the gruesome attacks in Paris on Friday the 13th, whereas social media sites like Twitter, and Instagram helped inform us about the Hurricane in Mexico, the Earthquake and potential Tsunami in Japan, and the ISIS attack within Lebanon. #DesPrieresPourParis and #PorteOuverte are amazing for the message and shelter they provide, but we can go a bit deeper than that. We can stop antagonizing and isolating one group and instead use that energy to write a letter to someone in Paris who will suffer from the grief to come. Perhaps we could use that energy to educate kids on why stereotypes are wrong. Maybe we could even use that energy to look ourselves in the mirror, recognize the wrong doings each of us have ever committed, and vow to make a change from this day forth.