Unlike racism, extremism towards Muslims is both politically based and stereotypically caused not based on skin color. As a matter a fact, extremism towards Muslims means Islamic people are suffering from discrimination, bullying, physical and mental abuse. This is because of political views, religious views, and/or an incorrect understanding of Muslims. Another name for this is Islamophobia. Regardless, The Council on American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) shows that between 2000 and 2016 hate crimes targeting Muslims surged 584% (Buncombe). In one particular case, a man refused to sell another man food because he was Muslim. Essentially, Muslim people have been with the United States since the American Revolution for Morocco, a Muslim country, was the first country to recognize their independence. They also fought for the Union during the Civil War and for the United States during World War Two. Muslims also contribute in many American sectors today such as medicine, science, military, etc (MAP). According to Pew Research, a survey done in 2017 showed how Muslims felt in the United States. To the question “Do American people see Islam as mainstream society?” 62% said no, 29% said yes, 9% did not know. Another 50% of Muslims said that being Muslim in the U.S has become more difficult (Platt). In one particular situation, Shawna Ainslie was a victim of Extremism or Islamophobia who lived in New York. She quoted, “I remember a week after the attacks of 9/11, as I walked to work people threw trash at me and said many horrible things to me, calling me terrorist and killer. I was afraid and scared for a long time.” (Blumberg). In addition, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washing University stated, “People in the West remain clueless about this subject and point fingers to whoever the media says is the enemy. In fact, 80% of media coverage of Islam and Muslims is negative.”(Guessoum). Without a doubt, Muslims are seen as evil and anti-American people. Whereas this is not the case for they have contributed in many ways to America and other countries. Although they are not recognized for their contributions and are in many cases physically and mentally abused. This hate, bullying, and discrimination against Muslims can lead to serious problems.
A question many Muslims and those who resemble them ask is where do Islamophobes get their idea of Muslims being terrorists. To find out where this problem began, we must see how Islamophobes were raised about this subject. For instance, most Islamophobes (anti-muslim) were raised with the mind set that all Muslims are terrorists and killers particularly influenced by the media. According to Pew Research, many families raised their children as Islamophobes mainly because a politician or the media influenced them into believing all Muslims are about violence and killing. As a matter a fact, Richard Calvin, a,previous Islamophobe and supporter of Extremism towards Muslims, stated that the image of Muslims he was raised with was as killers, mostly due to 9/11. Calvin claims that if he was raised better about Muslims he would have not been an Islamophobe (Platt). Therefore, being raised to believe that all Muslims are are terrorists leads to showing hate and harassment towards Muslims. Because of being raised as an Islamophobe, many feel that attacking Muslims physically and mentally is the answer. Darren Osborne drove a car into a mosque in England in attempt to kill Muslims. Most notably, Mirror News reported that Jordan Tanner followed a Muslim traffic warden, throwing eggs at him, and calling him a terrorist (Robson). Undeniably, raising children to believe that Muslim people and those who resemble them are terrorists is a terrible thing to do because that child could cause serious harm.
In San Francisco, California on March 23, 2017 a man approached a Muslim mother and her one year old song playing in a park and made racist and other anti-Muslim statements to her. He then threatened to shoot her unless she left. When officials questioned the man he said, “Those people are killers and I tried to stop one from committing another attack.” (Rocha). Due to the media failing to report what is really happening with Muslims and only showing the negatives is causing a big problem. On one hand, in the past decade, Bruce Irvin, Luke Helder, John Allen, Lee Boyd, and Nidal Malik Hasan all committed acts of terrorism. Although most of the media only reported on Hasan’s case completely ignoring the others (CNN). Although, the acts of 9/11 were people from a Muslim country, they had no connection to the regular Muslim people who lived in those countries. They had only said their attacks were in the name of Islam because it was the most common religion in their country. The Huffington Post claimed, “The media did not mention this and reported as if all Muslims were the this way” (Guessoum). As a result of Muslims being given the wrong image throughout the media many feel like they are not apart of their society. They are faced with harassment, discrimination, and some begin to develop mental health problems. Another survey done by Pew Research showed that 64% of Muslims have been harassed by citizens, and by the FBI because of what the media reported. Another 52% believe that they do not belong in society because of the way the media portrays them (Platt). For this reason some Muslims both children and adult have begun to develop mental problems such as anxiety and depression. In 2002, the percentage of Muslim people seeing therapists for mental health reasons raised 83% (Kishi). Most of this increase was due to harassment that the media brought towards Muslims. In essence, the media has only worsened people’s image of Muslims or had incorrectly reported on many terror attacks which has lead to countless innocent Muslims suffering for it.
The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia
Muslims are not seen as the kind, loving, respectful people they are. Because of this a group of Muslims in North Carolina created The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI). This is an organization created to help counter Islamophobia and to help Muslims deal with Islamophobia on daily basis (MERI MS).
MERI was created because of media and other forces inciting prejudice and hatred against Islam and Muslims and the terror attacks on Paris. The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI) which is an non profit organization created to promote the message that Islam, Muslims, and those who resemble Muslims are not all bad people with sinister intends. MERI was launched in February 2015 in the Triangle Area of North Carolina (MERI MS).
Generally speaking, MERI works to confront, resist, and Muslims targeted by Islamophobia. MERI does this by setting up workshops and teach-ins where they thoroughly explain what Islam’s message is about peace and love. MERI has also developed many tactics used to handle situations where Islamophobia takes place (MERI MS).
Throughout MERI’s hard work and dedication has helped change many Islamophobes and other people’s view on Islam for the better in the East Coast. Kalia Abiade (a previous victim of Islamophobia) says that MERI has taught her how to deescalate situations where an Islamophobe is harassing them (Abiade).
Overall, MERI has helped reduce a lot of Islamophobia, but not enough to make an impact for they are only East coast based and they do not have a big budget.
The Islamic Networks Group
Maha Elgenaidi, Manal Fakhaury, Shakila Ahmed, and Mohammed Darwish are all U.S born Muslims, although they were all targeted by Islamophobes and learned that some people view their religion is about killing others for god. All of this harassment and abuse they received led them to create the Islamic Networks Group (ING), a solution designed to help victims of Islamophobia and to help reduce it (ING 1).
Since 9/11 countless Muslims were harassed and abused. A group of Muslim professors: Maha Elgenaidi, Manal Fakhaury, Shakila Ahmed, and Mohammed Darwish wanted to help contribute to finding a solution to this problem and created the Islamic Networks Group. ING is a nonprofit organization helping to aid Muslims affected by Extremism and to decrease around the United States. Since 2002, when ING was founded, they had set up numerous locations throughout the U.S (ING 1).
Essentially, ING works by providing thousands of presentations, seminars, workshops, and panel discussions annually in schools, colleges, universities, law enforcement agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, and community organizations. ING has also created many ads that can be found anywhere in the country. They work by talking about Islam and educating people what it means to be Muslim. As examples that do this by partnering with television shows such as “Adam’s World” (where they are showed as kind funny people), their presentations, ads, etc. ING has numerous locations where they provide counseling and how to react to Islamophobia for free.
Without a doubt, ING is a very successful organization. The Berkeley Center recognized them calling ING “A leader in cultural understanding.” ING has helped lot of Muslims, helping them stand up for themselves and recover from the harassment (Brauhn). They have also educated many people on Islam. ING’s hard work has also changed some Islamophobes mind. During their presentations many say, “Really, that is amazing, I wish I was Muslim, I didn’t even know that!, etc.” Some had even joined the organization (ING 2).
Clearly, ING has made a massive impact on Extremism and Islamophobia. ING is claims they are currently doing everything in their power, but they could do more since they have not done muc
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