BY: SHREEYA ARANAKE, CONTRIBUTOR
Today, when one hears about the prejudice against Islam not only in America, but throughout the world, a thought-provoking question is raised: is humankind, once again, discriminating against innocent people just because of their religion? The answer is scary. Current Republican presidential candidates portray Islam in an extremely negative light. When a presidential candidate is campaigning, he or she is running for the head of a secular state, as stated in the First Amendment of United States’ constitution. This means that there is a distinct separation between religion of an individual and the different political policies that an individual holds. When an average American citizen tells Senator John McCain during his campaign for presidency that she is “scared to have a Muslim president,” one starts to wonder about the rise of a regime that will discriminate against Muslims living in the United States.
When speaking about the opposition of Muslims in America, and the idea of blockading the United States so that it only accepts non-Muslims, one specific candidate comes to mind—Mr. Donald Trump. He has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States during his campaign for presidency. The most terrifying part? Huge numbers of GOP voters agreed to this un-American, un-Constitutional idea. Unfortunately, Trump’s plan to “make America great again” is largely appealing to many working-class citizens in the United States.
Though Islamophobia is by no means a new issue, anti-Muslim sentiment has grown considerably since the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001. Since then, a wide range of Americans have held a prejudice against those who follow the Islamic faith. Over time, Islamophobia has grown because of terrorist groups that promote radical Islam such as Al Qaeda and ISIL. These two terrorist groups have reeked havoc on American soil and on the American people. Many are angered by the attacks that radical Islamic groups have perpetrated, including atrocious events such as the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California that took place during mid-December of 2015. After police investigation, it was found that the couple who initiated the attack were representatives of ISIL, increasing the fear of radical Islam (and therefore Islam itself, radical or not) in America. The proximity of the shooters to everyday Americans justifiably scared the public.
However, the anger that comes from the American people is leading towards a dangerous path of discrimination. Unfortunately, it is the idea of discrimination that has led Trump to become so popular for many voters. However, Trump’s opposition to Muslims has not made him popular among political leaders, and more importantly, he has become less popular with the allies of the United States. Both Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and the British Parliament have heavily condemned the comments that Trump has made.
As a country, America needs to find a solution to prevent Islamophobia from further manifesting in the hearts and minds of its citizens, and to keep its Muslim-American citizens in our country safe from violence caused by anti-Muslim sentiment. Daniel Tutt, a journalist for the Huffington Post, has studied the issue of Islamophobia, as well as texts written about it. He has formulated a model in order to “cure” Islamophobia: the Integrationist Model. In the Integrationist Model, Tutt believes that “strategies for combating Islamophobia are centered on education about Islam and building personal relations with Muslims.” This will help people look at the religion and its people in a more humane and cultural way, as opposed to a political issue that has gone hand-in-hand with foreign policy.
The Integrationist Model is exactly what America needs: it is a non-discriminatory institution that, if put in place, will help promote positivity about the Muslim culture in American society, as well as educate people about Islamic culture so that it will be understood as a religion, not as simply a violent institution.
This is Shreeya’s first article with the Atlas Business Journal! Leave your comments below.