Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Islamophobia is a form of racism that needs to be stopped

By Alisina Saee-Nazari

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Thousands of people gather during a demonstration march in Marseille, France, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in support of the victims of this week's twin attacks in Paris. Hundreds of extra troops are being deployed around Paris after three days of terror in the French capital killed 17 people and left the nation in shock. (Launette Florian/Maxppp/Zuma Press/TNS)

Thousands of people gather during a demonstration march in Marseille, France, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in support of the victims of this week’s twin attacks in Paris. Hundreds of extra troops are being deployed around Paris after three days of terror in the French capital killed 17 people and left the nation in shock. (Launette Florian/Maxppp/Zuma Press/TNS)

The Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris were attacked on Jan. 7 by Islamic extremists, leaving 12 dead. The French satirical magazine received death threats over its cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Global reaction to the terrorist attack has been overwhelming, but the hateful and Islamophobic retaliation remains undiscussed.

Coverage of the Paris attacks in the United States left the world power mute, and this silence speaks volumes. The U.S. has a Muslim population between five to seven million people, and rather than seizing the opportunity to condemn Islamophobia, our nation remains hesitant to reject its Islam-bashing narrative, popular amongst politicians and constituents. This fear is ill received, not only giving a religion the responsibility of its followers, but also giving Muslims the responsibility of other Muslims.

Growing up in post 9/11 America, I’ve learned that the war on terror is the war on me. As a child of Iranian parents, I’ve been racially condemned, despite not being religious. Islamophobia not only affects Muslims, labeling them as fundamentalists, but also creates racist images of what a Muslim looks like, affecting those who fit the stereotype. This stereotype of a Muslim is often portrayed with brown skin, covered in hair, and wearing a turban or burka. Non-Muslims have fallen victim to anti-Muslim hate crimes and remain targets to racial profiling because they fit a certain description.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, 54 anti-Muslim hate crimes have been documented throughout France. China recently banned burkas in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, where the largest Muslim population in China can be found.

“Xinjiang officials later banned students and civil servants from fasting for Ramadan, and authorities in the Xinjiang city of Karamy barred anyone wearing burqas, niqabs, hijabs or simply ‘large beards’ from taking public buses,” Lily Kuo wrote in a Quartz article.

Many people have resorted to Twitter to hash out and hashtag their concerns. #JesuisAhmed has been trending in support of Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer killed in the Paris massacre. Other recent campaigns have also tried to counter the trend towards public societal distrust of Muslims. Non-Muslim residents of Sydney, Australia responded to a Muslim hostage-taker with #illridewithyou. An act of solidarity in response to heightened Islamophobia in the wake of an incident, Australians offered to protect those who might have been targeted by Islamophobes by walking with them on the street and riding with them on public transport.

Campaigns like these are necessary in order to reverse the popular presumptions that fundamentalism is the face of Islam, something that #Jesuischarlie has failed to do. Many supporters have risen to the occasion to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo in exercising their free speech, but failed to support the Muslim who gave his life protecting their right to do so. #Jesuischarlie has succeeded in creating a universal symbol to protect our first amendment rights, but has failed to protect American Muslims who have been stripped of their right to practice their religion and build mosques.

Around the same time of the Paris massacre, an NAACP building was bombed in Colorado Springs, but barely received news coverage. This act of terrorism wasn’t deemed “significant” enough despite being in the U.S. and a race-based hate crime. The coverage it did receive from ABC, NBC and FOX referred to the gender and vehicle of the attacker, but failed to infer his religion and ideology. A 40-year-old white man committed an act of terrorism, yet his race and religion wasn’t held accountable.

And why should it? Christianity and its followers aren’t responsible for this man as they aren’t responsible for the Westboro Baptist Church. We have so elegantly succeeded in distinguishing extremists from Christianity, but continue to be victims of our ignorance once that religion is Islam.

Incidents like Charlie Hebdo prove that Islamophobia is simply racism. Disguised as rational thought, integrating Muslims with terrorism is toxic. Unifying the majority through fear is effective until people realize that violence and fear are products of the unifier. War-mongering rhetoric, such as “war on terror,” has been our national narrative for the past decade and this cancer has mestasisized, affecting the whole country.

As a victim of Islamophobia, I’m sick and tired of feeling like I don’t belong. I would like to step into Logan Airport in Boston without the constant stares or fear that I’m perceived as a threat. Our rhetoric needs to reflect reality, which is Islam, like any religion, doesn’t promote violence or peace. Society can’t define a violent person by a single characteristic, such as their religious beliefs.

Alisina Saee-Nazari is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Islamophobia is a form of racism that needs to be stopped”

  1. Arafat on January 30th, 2015 8:26 am

    You will all make great PC journalists, i.e., not caring an iota about information that conflicts with your PC prejudices.

  2. republic day india on January 10th, 2016 10:41 am

    Thanks for finally writing about > Islamophobia is a form of racism that needs to
    be stopped : The Massachusetts Daily Collegian < Liked it!

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