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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“If journalists and the public continue with the negative stereotypes of Muslims, if we allow people like Trump to control the narrative that Islam is bad, it won’t get better.”
New Jersey
I don’t think there is understanding when it comes to Muslim culture. I think especially after 9/11 and the war on terror, there’s a lot of hateful sentiment towards Muslims in America and with Trump as president, it only heightens it.

It’s difficult in America for people to embrace and accept people of the Islamic faith. I think most Americans have a fear of Islam.

After 9/11 and the war, the fear was heightened, and now with ISIS, people have an extreme view of Islam. Most Americans have only seen that part of Islam. They think that all Islam is that way.

Whereas people of the actual Islamic faith, they’re not like that at all. They’re regular citizens, they’re no different from anyone. Most Americans are afraid because of the radicalized parts of Islam we see on TV.

There’s prejudice against Muslim people. After Trump got elected, it heightened it. You see laws now, even in other countries, that ban women from wearing burkas.

If someone is speaking Arabic, people suddenly get tense. If someone is wearing a turban, they automatically assume the worst. I don’t think it’s easy for Muslim people in America because of all the stereotypes.

As a person who wants to go into the journalism field, I hear a lot about mainstream media. I’ve heard people criticize mass media. As much as I don’t want to follow it, there is a point that mainstream media can point the masses the wrong way.

If I turn on any of the big news networks, the only time Islam is mentioned is when there is a terrorist attack, or we’re fighting them in a war. Basically, only negative things. On the news, you rarely hear about someone of the Muslim faith doing something positive.

Some of my local news stations never say happy Ramadan. There is a bias, and they don’t explain to people what Islam really is or they show it in a negative light.

I think Islamophobia has gotten worse. I’ve looked at documentaries and interviews on Muslim people, and they basically said before 9/11 we were fine, no one really questioned us. After 9/11, there was a lot of Islamophobia.

Obama is not Muslim, but because his middle name is Hussain, everyone called him the Muslim president. It’s just a name. No one wants to take the time and research Islam, either because they don’t want to or because they don’t know they’re ignorant.

If journalists and the public continue with the negative stereotypes of Muslims, if we allow people like Trump to control the narrative that Islam is bad, it won’t get better. It’s going to take effort for people to look past ignorance.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“While I was focusing on growing in my faith, my mother just kept worrying about me marrying a terrorist.”
Charlotte, NC
terrorist
I am a Mexican Muslim. I converted to Islam three years ago. At first, my family wasn’t ok with my decision because I hadn’t spoken to them about it.

Instead, I just changed my whole outward appearance and decided I wanted to be Muslim. I come from a Catholic family with strong values, and to them, they believe that Islam is controlling.

They felt that I wouldn’t have rights as a Muslim woman and that I was going to become miserable. As you can see, this transition was not an easy one, to say the least.

While I was focusing on growing in my faith, my mother just kept worrying about me marrying a terrorist. My aunt even went as far as reading me Bible verses to bring me back on the ‘right path.’

Sometimes, my family still teases me about not eating pork anymore. Growing up Catholic, I use to eat pork freely but now that I don’t, I get made fun of. While it doesn’t bother me anymore, it used to hurt me to have my loved ones put down my beliefs.

Often times, the general public associates Islam with oppressiveness or violence. They misinterpret the Quran and end up fearing us because they do not understand us.

The media does not help us build a positive image either. Usually, women are portrayed in the media as slaves who are oppressed by ‘barbaric’ Muslim men.

Women like me are seen as easy targets because we chose to represent who we are through our dress. This should not be so, but it is and a lot of this hatred and confusion exists because of 9/11.

See, even though it has been 17 years since 9/11, Islamophobia still sits heavy in the hearts of many Americans. However, if people reach out to their fellow Muslim neighbors, there could be a better understanding of Muslims nationally.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“This can be a struggle within one’s soul that causes them to give into impulses and stray off of their path.”
New York, NY
A lot of people tend to associate Jihad with terrorism. But, in reality, Jihad means a struggle.

This can be a struggle within one’s soul that causes them to give into impulses and stray off of their path. This is something that I believe everyone goes through in life.

Although it is rather difficult to do, I personally try to teach people about my faith. Currently, I am the treasurer of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Pace University.

I really wanted to make MSA a big thing at Pace. But, so many people just aren’t that interested in the idea. Whenever I ask my non-Muslim friends to even come to a meeting, I usually get a ‘Are you joking?’ or ‘You’re really a part of that?’

While the lack of support is rather discouraging, it just goes to show me that people still view us in a negative light. And that the negative light they see us through can be traced back to how the media portrays us.

I think the fear of Islam stems from 9/11 and how Islam is portrayed in the media. The media never focuses on the peaceful and religious aspects of Islam. Instead, they focus on the daunting acts of terrorists from the Middle East.

My family hasn’t suffered to the extent that some other families had, but I still have heard some rough remarks. For instance, in high school, one of my closest friends said that I looked like a terrorist. Although it was just a joke, I was very offended by it.

More recently, I personally underwent an embarrassing TSA pat down at the airport last year. A security woman touched every aspect of my body. I felt humiliated.

Although there is a long road to walk before Islamophobia disappears, I do think that, recently, people have become more accepting towards us. Individuals are realizing the world could be a better place if we learnt to love each other for who we are. Therefore, I am very hopeful that more people will be accepting towards Muslims in the near future.

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Muslim In America

Muslim in America – Voices

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“I have never really felt any sort of discrimination. But, it was not until recently that I learned that my parents had not had that same luxury.”
Los Angeles, CA
Being Muslim in this country has never really been a ‘problem’ for me. Obviously, I know that I am a minority. Being Muslim is not often something that I actively think about.

I live in a very diverse area where being something other than ‘white’ is not exactly uncommon. In general, I tend to hang out with a crowd of other Muslims. So, I never really feel out of place.

I have never really felt any sort of discrimination. But, it was not until recently that I learned that my parents had not had that same luxury.

Although our religious practices in our family have become laxer as my siblings and I have aged, my mother recently confessed she made us practice religion so heavily as children because she wanted us to make friends with other Muslims.

My parents, specifically, chose to live in a more diverse area so we did not stick out from the crowd. She did not want to draw attention to us, so we could avoid as much prejudice and discrimination as possible.

I think people today are much more tolerant and accepting of Muslims than they used to be. Based on what Muslims used to face, I’m sure my parents’ fear and paranoia is justified. However, I feel that people are starting to let go of their preconceived notions.

People are beginning to learn that stereotypes are not based in truth. Once people realize that terrorism is not linked to the Muslim religion, maybe they will be less afraid.

Extremists and terrorists are not a true reflection of Islam. Once people begin to realize this, we may be one step closer to working toward peace and harmony between all people.

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