Column: Please don’t allow ISIS or Al Qaeda negatively influence your opinion of Muslims

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Hussein Murray, Staff Writer

As the smoke cleared from the rubble of the World Trade Center, the world changed. As firefighters rushed to save lives , the world changed. When the people of Paris were scrambling out of stadiums, cafes and theatres, fleeing for their lives from ISIS attacks, the world changed.

The way Muslims are perceived is forever changed.

Much like my Muslim friends and my family, the way I would grow up to be treated by peers and political figures would change. The era of Islamophobia began.

From being called a suicide bomber to witnessing numerous Muslim women getting constantly stopped by the TSA, stereotypes of my people have been persistent all my life. These stereotypes are often caused by a lack of understanding, as people don’t take the time to understand Islam.

One quick skim of social media would reveal the ignorance and unfair blame associated with Muslims — the same people who live lives of acceptance and kindness. For instance, in Irving, Texas, Ahmed Mohamad, a 14-year-old boy brought in a self-made suitcase clock and his teacher immediately called the police, assuming that the clock was a bomb.

Even political figures are perpetuating these negative stereotypes. Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate, stated that a Muslim would not be fit to lead the United States. Donald Trump didn’t denounce an anonymous man calling Muslims “a problem” in this country.

In terms of social media, Twitter accounts associate the phrase “Allahu Akbar” with suicide bombings and 9/11. There are lots of problems with this. For one, the word “Allah,” is simply the word “God” in Arabic. Allah isn’t even a Muslim god; it’s just a word.

Most people don’t even understand the meaning of the phrase itself: “God is great.” It’s funny since people who make fun of the term pretty much are spitting in the face of their own religious morals and values, rather than cracking a meaningless joke.

In wake of the Paris attacks, I saw numerous instances of ignorance on Twitter where people not only were denouncing the religion, but they were also making hasty generalizations of the religion, claiming that just because one says “God is great” in Arabic, that defines him or her as a Muslim. Apparently ISIS follows a religion that prohibits the killing of people along with prejudice.

By the way, ISIS isn’t Islam. It’s simply a terrorist group that utilizes Islam as a backing for killing people for political purposes. Pretty funny, considering that 1.6 billion true Muslims denounce the activities of ISIS, and oppression is exactly the opposite of what Islam stands for.

If you honestly think that ISIS is Islam, I might as well tell you that the KKK is Catholic. You aren’t looking at the values of a particular religion or race; instead, you just nod and agree with the negative propaganda portrayed in the media.

If I supported ISIS or if the other Muslims in our school did, I strongly doubt we would live in America. Someone criticized me for standing up for the Pledge, saying “Don’t your people hate America?” It’s this kind of ignorance that makes me sick.

Women in Islam are treated with equal, if not even MORE respect than men. The wearing of the Hijab or headscarf isn’t concealing a bomb or taking away a woman’s right to her freedoms. Muslim women who choose to wear it do so out of modesty, not gender dominance.

As for any religion, before you criticize a group or person and look like an idiot, please take the time to understand who or what a religion stands for. Ignorance is a common reality in society today. Let’s make Islamic stereotypes stop.

We all want peace, love and understanding to prevail.