The USA has always needed a boogieman, someone or something that will put the general populace in fear so that the American politicians can emerge and show the American government as the savior against the manufactured fear. For over 40 years the boogieman was the USSR and Communism, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union this could no longer be used to keep Americans in fear. A new boogieman had to emerge to keep Americans in fear. Enter Islam and Muslims.
Islam is a religion that is seemed as very exotic and foreign to westerners. Before 9/11, not much was known about Islam and even after 9/11 Islam is still not known, at least in its proper context. People have been force fed images of beheadings and terrorists attacks which gives Westerners the idea that Islam is a violent religion and that all Muslims have the capability to be terrorists.
The imagery of Muslims in western media and movies has always been that of terrorists. Even before 9/11 this has been the case. A good example are Chuck Norris movies from the 1980s where Chuck is always seen beating up the Arab terrorist hell-bent on setting off some WMD after hijacking some airplane.
After 9/11 the treatment of Muslims on Western media became worse. Every time a Muslim anywhere on the globe did anything wrong, immediately the media started painting the religion of Islam as the cause for the Muslim’s action. Even if the person did something against the teachings of Islam, this did not matter, Islam was to blame.
The breeding of terrorism is not the only negative image being given by the media to westerners, there is also the imagery of Muslims being barbaric, that all Muslims perform honor killings and female-genital mutilation; a practice that is performed by Muslims, Christians, and people from tribal religions in Africa. This is a cultural practice and not a religious practice. However, the media is unable or unwilling to differentiate between cultural and religious practices.
An article published by Fox News demonstrates this fear-mongering tactic, France’s Jihad Fears: Is Next Attack Brewing in France’s ‘no-go’ Zones? In this article it describes the poor neighborhoods of France as being overrun by Muslim youth and that they are so violent that no tourist or police officer dares step foot into these territories. Never mind the fact that anyone that immigrated to France is treated as a second-class citizen and are always treated as other than.
The real Islam is peaceful, whereas racism and violence is not tolerated and haram (unlawful). The Western media has done a good job at putting Americans in fear of Shariah without knowing what Shariah is. Shariah simply means sacred law and it is like a GPS system for Muslims to get to Jannah or heaven. It was originally intended for self-rule not to be used over others as a tool of dictatorship. If the GPS tells you to turn left, then you turn left. But, if it tells you to turn left and you turn right then you will not get to your destination.
Part of Shariah is the giving of charity, smiling to people when they are down, helping the poor and destitute, this is all part of Shariah that Americans are afraid of. There is the aspect of cutting off the hand of someone who steals, however, the person and their family has a right to return what was stolen or pay the monetary equivalent to the victim. Also in Shariah the victim’s family in a murder has the right to decide of a murderer is executed, or of they pay a fine and are forgiven. Shariah traditionally applies to Muslims; not to non-Muslims.
People often say that Muslims never speak out against violence but this is not the case. You have Muslims such as the American Shaykh Hamza Yusuf that gives over 200 talks a year around the world speaking out against the violence. There was also a coalition of the top Muslim scholars in the world that came together and signed a document renouncing all terrorism and there was no media coverage. The media never covers the free health clinics and food pantries that Muslims organize to help the needy in poor areas in the United States. Muslims recently started a program to help the poor and needy to get water and electricity in Michigan.
Why am I speaking about this to you now you might ask? It is because like everyone else I want to be able to live in peace and without fear. I fear for my and my family’s safety when they come to the United States. Because I have received numerous death threats for being a Muslim. Not for what I said, but for what I am. I have had people message me, my former university, and call my previous work places saying that they would kill me because…I am a Muslim.
When I went to Tunisia for two years, it was the only time in over a decade that I felt safe. I know one person who is crippled from an assault committed on him before 9/11 even happened. He was a doctor that was beaten with baseball bats my Nazis in front of the mosque in Reno. They beat him when he was leaving the mosque. I knew a mother of five who was murdered for no reason beyond religious hatred. A friend of mine’s daughter, a 12-year-old child, was shook with significant force by a grown man because she was wearing her headscarf.
What does it say about a country whose citizens say that they believe in a First Amendment right of the freedom of religion but can also bully an unpopular religion without fear of reprisal by the media. How would you feel if you received messages from random, unknown, people who want to kill you for no reason other than your religion? America has a serious problem beyond any potential threat from the minor portion of the Muslim religion that is radical and is in severe need for self-reflection.
When people on both sides are made to be fearful of the other, then problems will happen. We must stay away from the mentality that the good of the bad are the bad of the good, and instead we need to remember what Prophet Muhammad taught and that is to take a wrong action and to return it with a good action. We need to remain steadfast and to remember to always be good to people. We do not need to live in fear and suspicion of one another. We all share this globe equally. Equal rights need to be equal rights for everyone, anything less than that is hypocrisy.