Fighting terrorism should not hurt innocent people

Kristine Totanes, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

While Muslims all over the world, especially in the West, have long been discriminated against, anti-Muslim sentiment, from the United States and Canada to Great Britain and France, has shown no signs of waning. In fact, the stigma against European and American Muslims, especially in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, has escalated to the point that now many Muslims in the United States and Europe legitimately fear for their lives. This is unacceptable, as normal people with families experience discrimination for acts they would never commit. Blaming individuals for extreme acts perpetrated by larger organizations is as prejudiced as it comes.

According to a recent study by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, there has been a drastic increase since the commission’s last survey in 2010 in the number of physical and verbal attacks against Muslims in Great Britain, not because they incite violence and terrorist acts, but because of the faith that they adhere to. Similarly in the United States, while hate crimes as a whole have decreased, the number of crimes against Muslim Americans has not. It is no wonder that Muslims all over the world now fear for their lives and well-being.

What is also clear is that Islam is not a religion that, as a whole, supports and upholds terrorism. In fact, out of the 2.77 million Muslims in the United States, only 5 percent agreed with al-Qaida. Of the actual organization, there are an estimated 23,000 members, of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. Those perpetrating violence are clearly in the minority.

Rather than support violence and oppression, Muslims, whether they identify as Sunni or Shiite, celebrate and uphold peace, love and goodwill all over the globe, just as the adherents of the various sects of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism do. It is unfortunate a small number of self-identifying Muslims inflict violence upon other people and because of this, Muslim people, as a group, are marginalized, oppressed and treated as second-class citizens.

There is little reason to believe that promoting hatred against peace-loving Muslims will resolve the issue of global terrorism. Rather than oppress a group of people simply because of their religion, people should strive to combat terrorism in as humane a way as possible, such as restricting access to guns and other dangerous weapons, improving the effectiveness of police and security forces in identifying potential threats, educating people about terrorism and how to properly respond to terrorist attacks.

Though many people would argue that effectively combating terrorism would not be possible without targeting Muslims as a whole, there are indeed alternative ways to address this issue without negatively affecting innocent Muslim people. While these would not come without their challenges, in the long run, they would bring us closer to creating a more peaceful, nonviolent, and harmonious society.

Kristine is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected].