“It’s difficult to come across a news story about Muslims doing something unsensational which limits the way the American public sees people who practice Islam.”
The people I engage with and the news that I seek out on social media are largely what I have chosen and are more likely to validate my values. In those circles, I don’t see a lot of Islamophobia for that reason. On the other hand, when I sit down to watch the evening news on network television, the news about Islam and Muslims seems to be in this distressing binary of harmful terrorist or unfortunate victim.
It is difficult to come across a news story about Muslims doing something unsensational which limits the way the American public sees people who practice Islam. I don’t feel comfortable talking about my opinions with some of my conservative, non-Muslim friends because they’ve been so indoctrinated by the media that it doesn’t even feel productive.
I am lucky to have avoided expressions of prejudice, such as racism, because my appearance is fairly nondescript and ‘American.’ Sometimes I feel guilty because I am allowed to avoid the scrutiny that my friends who were the hijab and look Middle Eastern cannot. At the same time, I feel pressure from those people to be even more upfront about my beliefs and give up the privilege I have because of my appearance.
I think a common misunderstanding of Muslim culture, and I do think this is particularly post September 11th, is that all Muslims harbor a deep and intense hatred of Western, modern, liberal thought and behavior. I regularly disagree with people of different faiths about religion, but we all use cell-phones.
Those two things might seem unrelated, but it’s crazy to me how convoluted aspects of Islam are in the media. I’ve interacted a lot with Muslims who come from the Middle East to America and even those who pray five times a day are thrilled to buy an iPhone.
The Qur’an commands that people, no matter their faith, do not judge each other. This is not always easy, but it is one of the core lessons in the holy book. We are all human beings, even if we believe in different things.