Xenophobia in America


Created by and used with permission from Sarah Sander

The media and public figures like Donald Trump have aided in the growing of Islamic xenophobia, causing for some of the public to act in the way expressed here.

On Saturday, September 17, an act of terrorism occurred on 7th avenue and 28th street in New York City. An IED was placed under a dumpster and subsequently injured 29 people after detonated. The same day another bomb detonated in Seaside Park, New Jersey and is believed to be linked to the man responsible for the Manhattan bombing. That same day, a 22-year-old Somali American man stabbed 9 people at Crossroads center mall in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. The following day, Sunday, September 18, a backpack filled with up to 5 bombs was in a garbage can only 500 feet from a train trestle in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Ahmad Khan Rahami and Dahir Adan are the ones behind these terrorist attacks. Their names are Arab names; they claim to either have been or to be Muslim respectively.  However, just because you claim to be Muslim does not make you Muslim.

America is facing a dilemma, of which I take personally because I was raised a Muslim, and this fallacy needs to be addressed. People believe that Islam is a religion of violence and that all Muslims are terrorists, it’s true that many acts of terror have been committed in the name of Islamic beliefs and ideology, but Islam is a religion of peace as much as any other religion. It does condone killing in time of war, but not the killing of innocent children, women, elders, servants or disabled people. The people that say these terrorists are Muslim are wrong, these terrorists are not Muslim they are solely terrorists. Unfortunately, many Muslim Americans today face constant assault due to this misconception.

My grandmother lives in Lawrenceville and she recently came down to Suwanee in order to visit my family. She was parked in the parking lot of Hammer Sporting Goods on Old Atlanta road. My grandma was met with an intense feeling of discomfort. She was on the phone in her car when a man got out of his truck and started to stare at her suspiciously. My grandmother wears a hijab, a type of Islamic head covering. The man continued to stand there, on his phone, with the intense look of judgment upon his face. My grandmother left because she felt uncomfortable and scared, but anger soon surged through her, as she posed no threat at all. My grandmother is a 5’1″, 62 year-old woman and has been living in Georgia since the 1970’s. She has more pride for America than anyone I know. This was the worst prejudice she had experienced in her 40 years in America.

The occurrence with my grandmother profoundly upset me, as I have nothing but pride for this country, but people’s swayed views make me question this pride. Radical Islamic terrorism is not representative of all Islamic ideals. The truth is, radical Islamic terrorism is ruled by fanatics who have perverted the religion. Not all Muslims in America are to be feared. Why? Because the majority of Muslims do not view the ideology with the intentions of murdering people in cold blood. Muslims have been in America for more than 400 years and have never posed a threat before. That is because they have only recently been swayed by false ideologies, following blind leaders who want nothing but to watch the world burn through factions like ISIS.

Since September 11, 2001, the tensions against Muslims in America have grown. A profound deal of prejudice is faced by Muslims like my grandmother, the rest of my family, and me; due to ignorance and the fueling of these fallacies by leaders that have many supporters, such as  Donald J. Trump. Trump called for a ban on all foreign Muslims from entering the United States, be that a refugee or immigrant. Trump is using his power to fuel the hate in people, hate that will ultimately be projected into a violent force upon Muslim communities. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 481 anti-Islamic hate crimes were reported and from 2010-2014 there had been on average 38 hate crimes per month.  The number of attacks will only increase, the reason being Americans are wrongly associating Muslims with terrorists. America is hurling into a downward slope with no brakes in terms of prejudice views on Islam, this is more prevalent now than ever  because our president elect had called for a ban on Muslims. Even though many genuine Muslims have been addressing the fallacies over the decades, there are still a great deal of Americans who condemn Islam. Xenophobic rhetoric has been central to President-elect Trumps campaign. He is the instrument of America’s unfiltered thoughts and actions, which is shown via his support from much of America which is shown via his winning of the election. He has claimed that a video of Muslims celebrating on Sept. 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks was done in a New Jersey town, which has been continually invalidated. Despite that, himself and his supporters still believe it which fuels the once closeted hate in the country. Terrorists claim to be Muslim, but Muslims are not terrorists.

Many advocates have been fighting to clear the name of Islam since the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. A long time before that, advocates were still present in America, among those advocates was el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz most widely known as Malcolm X, who is one of the most famous influential advocates of the Islamic faith and African American community in America. Another advocate and close friend of Malcolm X was the “greatest of all time”, Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali’s abilities went beyond boxing, he was an activist for civil rights, he was the peoples champion, a philanthropist. He’s known across the globe; his legacy has touched almost everyone on the planet.

Growing up as a Muslim, events like this are not uncommon for me, especially in a time of growing anti-Islamic rhetoric. I faced prejudice, being called a terrorist or a Taliban. I never let those comments bring me down because as long as I could remember, I looked up to Muhammad Ali, he has always been my beacon of righteousness. I allow his words and actions to define me. I love myself because he did, I respect myself because he did, I fight for myself because he did, I use hate for motivation because he did,  and I’m not ashamed of myself because he wasn’t. I continue to live by these ideals and embrace Ali’s legacy, he taught me to not fear being a Muslim and to be who I am. The world didn’t believe in him, but he believed in himself. The world needs to trust genuine Muslims regardless of the awful stereotype, because Muhammad Ali started off being hated by many, but ended being loved by many.

As Muhammad Ali once said, he was a Muslim above everything else. As a Muslim he acted through peace and love, never instigating violent acts in the name of his religion. He represented the basic ideals of Islam. In his years as a philanthropist and even before, his daughter Maryum remembers her father picking up  homeless people around town for car rides while she rode with him as a child. He traveled the world helping impoverished people, a shining reminder of his humbleness, an Islamic virtue. In 1985 he went to Israel to request the release of Muslim prisoners in Atlit detainee camp.

When Muhammad Ali died on June 3th people across the world mourned for the loss of the “people’s champ”. I remember reading an article the day before that he had been admitted to the hospital, that same day they said he was in stable condition; I thought he was going to fight it off like he did when he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia in February. Unfortunately, his condition grew worse and he fought his last fight. The news of his passing hit me hard because of who he was as a man and the impact he had on my life, I didn’t want to believe it. Nine days after his death, a man, who claimed to be a Muslim planned and executed a shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. After that attack, the world quickly went back to condemning Islam based on the false premise that the shooter was acting under Muslim ideals.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Americans need to realize that and not allow the media to influence their thinking. My family along with the vast majority of Muslims are not to be feared, they are humans, they are Muhammad Ali, they are Malcom X, they are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they are Mike Tyson, they are Dr. Oz, they are Zayn Malik, they are Aziz Ansari, they are Shaquille O’Neal, they are T-Pain, they are Busta Rhymes, they are Akon, they are Dave Chappelle, they are Ice Cube, they are Janet Jackson, they are Iman. We are regular people like you.


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and contributors on this student-run news site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Lambert High School or Forsyth County Schools.