Inexcusable anti-Muslim hate crimes at all-time high

Nurah Lambert, Contributing Writer

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

Since the inception of our country, America has drawn rigid lines separating seemingly contradictory groups: wealthy from disenfranchised, white people from people of color and immigrants from natives.

Today, the presidential debates have triggered discussions regarding the Muslim population in America, with the dialogue revolving more around ambiguous terrorism than the religion of Islam.

These discussions have been present for some time, with their frequency increasing alongside the number of hate crimes against Muslims since 9/11. As long as fear and hate fuels conversations, our country will continue to tear further apart.

America’s dichotomous nature has constructed an invisible wall between Muslim and non-Muslim people. Those who condemn all of Islam for the actions of a few extremists forget that the terms “Muslim” and “American” are not mutually exclusive.

“As Muslims, we’re always expected to apologize for the acts of others … We can’t seem to separate Muslims—regular Muslims—from extremists,” Muslim Student Association President Nida Farhoud said. “The main issue when you’re dealing with the stigma is that people don’t seem to be able to want to separate those two.”

According to data from researchers at California State University-San Bernadino, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 78 percent in 2015. Even more recently, mosques have been tagged with anti-Muslim graffiti and Muslim women have been attacked and even spit on.

In September, a Muslim woman shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City had her clothes set on fire by a man standing nearby. Many of the attacks have gone viral on social media, revealing the ugly sentiments that some people harbor against Islam.

Many try to justify hate crimes with the incorrect presumption that 9/11, the Paris attacks and the Islamic State are results of Islam.

There is no justification to be made.

It should be simple: We must not treat Muslims as second-class citizens — or worse — because ignorant people want someone palpable to blame.

This need to blame is particularly evident in the presidential debates. Candidate Donald Trump blames America’s woes on several marginalized groups, such as Mexicans and Muslims, but never blames the people or politics at the root of the issues at hand.

“[Trump] gives people an icon to look at,” Muslim Tulane student Shees Ahmed said. “There were people who were afraid to say this [anti-Muslim] stuff before, but now that they have this icon, they show their true colors.”

The prejudiced portrayal of Muslims in the media hints at the solution to correct anti-Muslim attitudes. Like the candor of newscasters and politicians, Muslims in America need a louder voice to be heard among the furious shouts of hate-mongers.

Whether they seize this voice for themselves or it is handed to them willingly, the aggressive disposition of our country will cause a constant internal split until the line separating Muslims from everyone else is blurred.

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