The Most Important Article You Will Read About Muslims and the Presidential Race – Omar Alnatour/HuffPo
There are currently 16 hopeful candidates running for president and the majority of them have expressed an animosity towards Muslims. The result of their hatred being displayed across the media and rallies nationwide has played a significant role in fueling unjustified hatred towards Muslims. A recent poll shows that 55 percent of all Americans favor banning Muslims from entering the United States, 40 percent of conservative Americans believe that the entire religion of Islam should be banned in the United States, and 72 percent of conservative Americans believe a Muslim should never be allowed to be president.
There are millions of Muslim Americans living in the United States and I can guarantee you that every single one you speak to has either directly faced unjustified discrimination or knows of a Muslim that has. With this election cycle, things have only gotten worse. A recent report shows that hate crimes against Muslim Americans have tripled since the attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino shooting. Since the Paris attacks alone, there have been over 73 Islamophobic acts against Muslim Americans. On average, a Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every 3 days, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
As a Muslim American who continually strives to do everything I can for the betterment of my community and this nation, I am tired of the hatred. As a voting American citizen, I am tired of hearing presidential candidates make false and hateful statements about Muslims. It’s time we silence this discriminatory hatred against Muslims with facts. The rest of my piece will address the main statements being made against Muslims by the three most vocal anti-Muslim candidates.
The radical candidate that is punishing the largest victims of radical terrorism: In his latest publicity stunt, Donald Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Trump justified his hateful and discriminatory ban by saying, “you have radicalism in this country, it’s here, and it’s trying to come through.” By “radicalism”, Trump is referring to Muslim terrorists yet when we look to data from the FBI itself, we see that non-Muslims make up over 93% of terrorists in the United States. Trump continually refers to 9/11 and the San Bernardino shooting in justification of his Muslim ban but never mentions that less than 0.0002% of Americans killed between those two attacks in the past 14 years were killed by Muslims. However, I do agree with Trump in that we have radicalism in this country that is posing a serious threat to Americans- it’s called Islamophobia. Trump talks about the danger of radicals like ISIS and how they brainwash children to do evil, yet ironically radicals like him are promoting just as dangerous of an ideology that causes young American children to want to shoot and kill their Muslim classmates. You don’t have to look far to see the dangerous threat Trump’s radical views pose to American citizens. Just this week, a devout Trump supporter planned to carry out a terrorist bombing attack against Muslim American citizens saying that he would “follow Trump to the end of the world.” There is no doubt that Trump’s radical views pose much more of a threat to Americans than the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims being alienated under his ban. As a matter of fact, there have been more Islamophobic attacks against American citizens in the 5 weeks alone then have there been Muslims terrorist attacks against American citizens in the past fifteen years. ISIS does pose a serious threat, there is no doubt about that, and nearly all Muslims will agree that we need to combat this terror. This is why we have Muslims like Niloofar Rahmani, Kubra Khademi, various Muslim youth, and various Muslim scholars that have done much more to combat ISIS than Trump ever has yet under his proposal, they would unjustly be banned from entering the United States. After receiving backlash on his hateful ban, Trump replied saying, “I’m not looking to be politically correct”, but it is clear that he is not looking to be factually correct either since literally all the facts implore you to stand firmly against his ban. As if it isn’t already clear that Trump knows very little about the true teachings of Islam or the root causes of radical terrorism, he is quoted saying “I don’t know if that’s from the Quran. I don’t know if that’s from someplace else”, when referring to the causes of terrorism. ISIS believes that Islam is at war with the West and I can’t see how Trump castigating the people of an entire religion because of the extremists who have hijacked it does anything other support ISIS’s radical belief. Trump states that he is “the biggest believer in the constitution” yet his proposal goes against the 1st Amendment, which prohibits Congress from making a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion, as well as the 14th Amendment, which prohibits state governments from denying anyone the equal protection under this law (noting that courts have found that constitutional principals do indeed apply to people who are non-American citizens). Violating the constitution and going against the very principles this nation was founded upon is definitely not how we “make America great again”.
The minority candidate that is prejudiced against minorities: Ben Carson recently stated that he absolutely does not believe a Muslim American should be allowed to be President of the United States. Ironically, this is the most openly prejudice statement made by a hopeful presidential candidate since the statements made by Storm Thurmond against blacks during his 1948 presidential campaign. Carson tried justifying his segregationist hatred against Muslims by saying that the Founding Fathers of this nation also would not have wanted a Muslim to be president but he fails to acknowledge that Thomas Jefferson not only kept a personal copy of the Quran, from which he would refer to as a source of knowledge, but also imagined Muslims both as citizens of his new country and potential federal office holders. Carson added that the issue with a having a Muslim president is Shariah law (Muslim law) in which he believes, “women must be subservient and people following other religions must be killed.” The problem with Carson’s statement is that Islam granted women rights of equality thousands of years ago that women in the United States don’t have to this very day. While an Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed in the U.S. allowing women equal rights as men, the Quran granted this right to women long before this nation was ever founded. Regarding Carson’s latter statement implying that Muslims pose a threat to America, I factually proved this entire argument false in my last article. We as human beings are blessed to have more than one brain cell. This is amazing because allows us to do more than one thing at the same time, such as hate terrorism yet also show kindness and acceptance to the over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world that have no relation to it. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand this.
The immigrant candidate that is against immigration: Following the Paris attacks (in which not a single one of the attackers was identified as a Syrian refugee), Ted Cruz stated that he plans to pass legislation that would ban not all Syrian refugees from entering the United States, but just the Muslim ones. The senator instead believes that the Muslim Syrian refugees, which are fleeing the same terror the world is unjustly accusing them of, should be repopulated to other Muslim countries despite the fact that the United States evidently risks much more by doing so. Cruz attempted to justify his hatred towards Muslims by stating that we should only accept non-Muslim refugees because they pose “no meaningful risk” to our nation. However, when we look to the facts we see that of the millions of Muslim refugees the United States has accepted in the past 35 years, not a single one has committed an act of terror in the United States. Based on this fact, it is clear that Muslim refugees pose “no meaningful risk” to our nation. Cruz claims his unjustified discrimination against Muslims is because of his firm stance against radical terrorists like ISIS who he states “are beheading children” yet why does this Senator also devoutly supports the State of Israel which killed more children per capita last year than any terrorist group in the world? For a candidate that was not even born in the United States and had to immigrate here to run for president, you would expect Cruz to have at least a little bit of sympathy towards the Muslim Syrian refugees who have just as every right to be welcomed into this nation as he once was.
There is painful irony in how Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS’s terror yet also face the most hatred due to ISIS’s terror.
As a Muslim American, the only “-ist” that I am is a constitutionalist. We cannot allow Ben Carson’s prejudice to make us forget that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution forbids religious tests for ANY government office position. We cannot allow Donald Trump’s radicalism to make us forget that the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution protect the rights of Americans of ALL faiths to practice their religion and protect them from discrimination and denial of equal rights. We cannot allow Ted Cruz’s discriminatory hatred against Muslim refugees to make us forget that our founding fathers immigrated to this nation as religious refugees with the goal of establishing a nation in which ALL humans are granted the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
One of the biggest reasons I am so proud to be a Muslim American is because I live in a nation that is a symbol of freedom, equality, and unity. Our founding father, Patrick Henry, once said “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” We as Americans will never defeat terrorism by showing the terrorists that we are scared of them. We cannot allow ISIS to make us too afraid to be inclusive of Muslims who stand just as firmly against terrorism as any current presidential candidate does. The only way we can defeat terrorism is to do so together. On behalf of all Muslim Americans, I say this: We want to help. We just first ask to be seen and treated as equal citizens of this nation.