Terrorism. Islamophobia. Racism. Discrimination. Ever since the tragedy that was 9/11 occurred, there has been a growing amount of hate and confusion towards Islam and its followers, and sadly, it’s today, in 2016, that we hear these words used just as often, if not more, than we did then.
As a Muslim, each time I hear of another attack, I find myself hoping that the media won’t begin to speculate that Muslims had any involvement, but I try not to hold my breath. Not because I think that they did have something to do with it, but because once the term “terrorism” has been used in the news, more often than not, the word “Muslim” follows soon after, as though the two go hand-in-hand. Which then leads to more hatred and fear towards the religion and all the innocent people who follow it, who had nothing to do with any of the violence.
I could sit here and argue that radical extremists who claim to be practicing Islam do not follow the sunnah (teachings) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I could argue that they take little bits and pieces of the Qur’an out of context and use it for their own gain, in the same way that Non-Muslims often do when they’re trying to make Islam look bad. And I could also argue that they do not follow the same religion that I follow, that my family and friends, and billions of other Muslims – who want nothing more than peace – follow.
However, I think that it’s just as important to discuss that although it seems like an awful lot of terrorist attacks being carried out are done so by Muslims, that is not the case, despite how today’s media makes it seem.
According to a recent study found on globalresearch.com, only 6% of all terrorist attacks in the United States were carried out by Muslims, and only 1% out of those in Europe. U.S. News and World Report published that “Of the more than 300 American deaths from political violence and mass shootings since 9/11, only 33 have come at the hands of Muslim-Americans, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. In 2012, all but one of the nine Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered were halted in early stages. That one, an attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, caused no casualties…,”
And as the Washington Post so pleasantly explains in an article written by Andrew Shaver in 2015:
You, your family members, your friends, and your community are all significantly more at risk from a host of threats that we usually ignore than from terrorism. For instance, while the Paris attacks left some 130 people dead, roughly three times that number of French citizens died on that same day from cancer…
Consider, for instance, that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been no more likely to die at the hands of terrorists than being crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer. Roughly five minutes after that, a military veteran will commit suicide. And by the time you turn the lights off to sleep this evening, somewhere around 100 Americans will have died throughout the day in vehicular accidents – the equivalent of a plane full of people crashing, killing everyone on board, every single day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the loss of human life is worse when the act is committed by one group of people as opposed to another. Tragedy of any kind is heartbreaking, no matter how or why they occur, or who is answerable for it. But if we’re going to use media to blame and turn on all Muslims when it is only a few terrible people – out of billions of good ones – who are responsible for the violence 6% of the time, then the question should be asked, where is the mass media coverage 94% of the time when the rest of these atrocities occur? Where are those so quick to call all Muslims terrorists, when the awful and devastating acts of violence are done by someone whose name isn’t so obviously “Muslim?” Or done by a law enforcement official? Or “a lone wolf?” Why do they not jump at the opportunity to drop the word “terrorism” then?
Take the Charleston church shooting for example, in which nine African Americans were shot by a young white male. While this story did get the attention of the media, “terrorism,” seemed to not be in their vocabulary. In an article written by Anthea Butler for the Washington Post, she discusses the incident:
Listen to major media outlets, and you won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Wednesday’s shooting. You haven’t heard the white, male suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, described as “a possible terrorist” by mainstream news organizations… And if coverage of other recent shootings by white men is any indication, he never will be. Instead, the go-to explanation for his alleged actions will be mental illness. He will be humanized and called sick, a victim of mistreatment or inadequate mental health resources.
By “other recent shootings,” what Butler was probably referring to was the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 children and six staff members were shot, and the Aurora shooting, in which 12 people were killed and 70 left injured in a movie theater during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” both of which, like the Charleston shooting, were attacks done by white males with a “mental illness.”
And while these acts of violence committed by white males are sadly only a few of many, this group of people are not given the label “terrorists.” In a 2015 interview, Senator Sherrod Brown said, “We’ve had individual crazy people, normally, they look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners — they are generally white males — who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools. Those are terrorist attacks, they’re just different kinds of terrorists.”
So, using that same logic – all Muslims are terrorists – should we all be afraid of every single white guy to walk the planet? Because hello, they’re the ones responsible for all that violence. Obviously the answer is no, because not every white guy is going around shooting at people. So then why should we fear all Muslims?
With all the craziness going on around the world, and with so many fingers being pointed at those who choose to practice Islam, a look at how all of this could affect our society as a whole might do everyone some good; from old men dressed in fancy suits that stand at podiums spreading all the negativity that is being broadcasted on our phones, computer and television screens, to the very people, our friends, colleagues, neighbors, family, and even ourselves, to whom these messages are directed towards.
It is not only the avid middle-aged and senior citizen listeners of Glenn Beck’s radio show, or the viewers of FOX News that are left in a state of confusion, misled by the constant flow of misinformation, but children and young adults as well, both muslim and non-muslim – who hold the fate of our world’s future in their hands.
Recent speeches and comments like Donald Trump’s “Ban all Muslims from the United States,” and Ben Carson’s “No Muslim should be put in charge of our nation,” – people who do have a platform to speak and affect opinions of millions of people – are doing so much more harm than they could ever do, if any, good. They’re feeding into the hearts and minds of young people, who could grow up with just as much hatred and fear towards the different races and religions as people did a century ago. We have come too far to end up back where we started. And if we wish to see a bright future, filled with prosperity and progression for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children, negative attitudes towards any and all races need to stop.
Just as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”