Tag Archives: Islamophobia
When I was in first grade, I remember being rounded up out of my classroom one day and sent home. At that time, I lived in a New Jersey town not too far from New York City. Once I got home, my whole family huddled around the TV as we watched images of blood covered people searching for help and two towering buildings burning. Now at 20 years old, terrorist attacks have almost become routine. In cities across the world, different families huddle in front of the T.V in horror and watch the tragedies occurring in the cities that seem like their extended backyards. Just a few days ago, Brussels experienced its own share of attacks. Over 30 people were killed and the whole country of Belgium is still dealing with the tragedy. It is a tough conundrum as now news is spreading that the suspects were likely Belgium nationals.
Dozens of local groups organized and supported a gathering in downtown Evanston expressing solidarity with Muslim Americans. The crowd began to swell past 100 attendees at Fountain Square on Sunday afternoon as multiple speakers rallied against Islamophobia.
PREVENT, a UK government counter-terrorism strategy that “aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism” focused on British Muslims was first introduced in 2006. Not surprisingly, this strategy ended up “being used to gather intelligence about innocent people who are not suspected of involvement in terrorism” and increasingly was discredited. But this “voluntary” strategy became law with the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in February 2015. After July of 2015, this plan required everyone who provides social services including teachers, social workers, doctors, and nurses to have the duty to report suspicious behavior to the authorities. This duty to report “extremist” behavior is very similar to mandated reporter laws in the US where social workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and psychotherapists must report any signs of physical or sexual abuse to the police or the state family services agency. In the UK’s PREVENT program, signs of “extremism” vaguely include “expressing opposition to fundamental British values such as practicing religious beliefs, the rule of law, and democracy.” Last month, a teenager in Luton was questioned by anti-terrorism police for wearing a “Free Palestine” button to school.
With all the attention on Trump and the other Republican candidates for President making Islamophobic comments, one would think that the rise in attacks on American Muslims and Islam just began in the last few months. But 2015 will be remembered as the year that began with three young Muslims being killed in Chapel Hill and will end with attacks on Muslims and mosques at record highs.
Over 200 supporters gathered in Evanston Fountain Square to express solidarity with Muslim-Americans on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The event coincided with the airing of the fifth GOP debate. Numerous speakers expressed their frustration with Islamophobic rhetoric in election campaigns and its effects on America.
The sudden wave of interest in Islam across the world seemed to commence just after September 11, 2001. The Western media, television as well as print, devoted reams of paper and time slots to report incidents ranging from stories of conversion to Islam to booming sales of copies of the Quran. Somewhere along this line, Muslims and the media became a hot topic of discussion at various forums. It continues unabated and the momentum doesn’t ever appear to have slowed down.
As many professional fields diversify and seek to better represent the changing face of the United States, many remain alarmingly homogenous. One of these areas happens to be diplomacy, a field I hope to enter post-graduation. In the international arena, it is crucial that the representatives of the U.S accurately reflect our differing races, ethnicities, and religions, among other identifying characteristics. In our post 9/11 world, one with rampant worldwide Islamophobia, it is particularly important to include American Muslims in this field – not as token minority officials – but as valued contributing members to American diplomacy.
This is the first of our “Policing Politicians” series where we examine the views of the declared candidates for president on social justice issues. Today we take a look at how all the Democratic and Republican candidates have approached discussing Islam and the problem of Islamophobia.
The past year has undoubtedly ushered in a new era for identity relations in America; with the police killings of black men in Ferguson and New York, the partisan fueled arguments over immigrant amnesty and the ‘religious freedom protection’ laws targeted at LGBTQ communities introduced in several states, racial and religious tension saturated our media climate in 2014. With 2015 well underway, these tensions continue to permeate several facets of American life. Notably in March, Starbucks launched their ill-conceived and eventually retracted ‘Race Together’ campaign aimed at sparking a national conversation on race in between latte orders. With the seemingly ever-present discussions and debates regarding identity based discrimination and its subsequent role in modern American society and government, I found myself questioning how American Muslims were fairing in this contentious climate—what is the status of Muslim discrimination in America? Are Muslim communities in the U.S. facing similar tensions and most importantly, how is the U.S. government addressing potential discrimination? To tackle these questions I took inventory of some key problems, as well as federal, state, and local legislative actions that have affected Muslim American communities across the nation in the past year.
Last week the Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University held a panel discussion titled “Faith and Trauma: Abrahamic Perspectives” at the American Islamic College in Chicago. The overall theme of the event was the perspective of each Abrahamic religion – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – toward personal and communal trauma – both as a source of healing and of trauma itself. Often inter-faith dialogues on controversial topics fail to address the elephant in the room. But in this case, the panelists took aim at how each religion has been both a victim and perpetrator of trauma.