The rise of islamophobia in america

Jacob Siegel

Staff Reporter

“Ground Zero is a sacred site. How dare they build a house of worship there.”

I wish those were my lines but they don’t belong to me. They belong to the comedian Stephen Colbert. I am in agreement with his views about the mosque. HOW DARE THE MUSLIMS BUILD A SACRED PLACE OF WORSHIP IN A SACRED PLACE? Stephen Colbert does have a point. Or does he?

It does seem a little odd that people are having a hard time with the Islamic community building a mosque near Ground Zero. Is it because they are sensitive to the families of the victims of 9-11, or is it something greater? And why would people really have a problem with it? There were Muslims who died on 9-11. Do they not count? If a bunch of Christians wanted to build a Church on ground-zero would there be any national outcry with that? Stephen Colbert does

Anti-Islamic sentiment has reached an all-time high. At least it seems like it’s been at its highest since 9-11. Bush told people after 9-11 to not reject the Islamic faith and the Islamic people as a whole after the 9-11 attacks. There was a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment but Bush was able at the time to convince a large majority of the people of the US that the people that are fighting us are radical extremists who have hijacked the religion (which they are).

Even now with Obama trying to speak out in support of the mosque and different faith leaders from different Catholic Churches speaking out telling people to respect the Islamic religion, and even with people like Terry Jones wanting to not to burn the Qu’ran it doesn’t seem to help. Just talking to the public doesn’t seem to quell anyone’s fears about people who are Islamic. People in the Islamic community have said many times that they feel that there is a misunderstanding between us and them and that they want to bridge that gap.

There are analysts that say that part of the problem lies with how many Islamic people are immigrants and that they haven’t integrated that well into the country yet. This is also the same kind of sentiment expressed by Islamic people who are discouraged by what’s going on. A lot of Islamic people came during the 70s and the 80s to flee the country because they wanted freedom and they did not like living under an Islamic police state. It is understandable from this point of view that they might have trouble adjusting to the US. But I don’t think that this would explain the anti-Islamic sentiment.

People who are against the mosques claim that the mosques are a breeding ground for radical terrorists. It seems that there is a line of thought that comes with Islamaphobia. People who believe that the Islamic religion breeds terrorists also believe that Al-Qaeda is Islam and that 9-11 is representative of Islam.

What people don’t seem to understand is that the Islamic religion doesn’t promote the killing of innocent civilians. Most Islamic scholars after 9-11 condemned Al-Qaeda and the 9-11 attacks as a perversion of the Islamic teaching of Jihad (which means struggle). Most moderate Muslims condemn terrorist attacks and don’t believe they are representative of Islam as a whole. It’s only the extremists that support them.

There is a lot of confusion with the Islamic religion among the West. Many Muslim scholars have been very critical of the use of terrorism against the West. They believe that terrorism is strictly prohibited because the Qu’ran doesn’t allow the Islamic religion to attack innocent civilians ( Therefore, the people that say that offensive Jihad is justified are the ones that are trying to take over the religion and use the religion of Islam for their own nefarious gains.

The Qu’ran states that all the Jews and Christians are people of the book and they shouldn’t be attacked. Defensive Jihad is the only kind of jihad that is really mentioned in the Bible and that kind of jihad is the one that is used by Muslim to justify driving occupiers out of their homelands. The people that we see calling for offensive Jihad aren’t representative of the true Islamic religion.

People who are against the mosques aren’t against this mosque because it’s near Ground Zero. There are other mosques around the nation that are getting attacked. For instance, the one in Tennessee was lit on fire (according to CNN). In the one in California people made signs near the mosques saying that the “enemy is here” (according to A lot of people against the mosque don’t distinguish between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims. They think that the Islamic religion as I’ve mentioned committed the atrocities on 9-11 and they think that all of Islam is violent.

I believe that people are reacting towards Islam more out of fear and ignorance about what the religion is and what people believe rather than knowing what it actually is. I didn’t really know about the religion of Islam and what people in the Middle East thought until I did a bit of research. I read a book called Who Speaks for Islam and was surprised to find that many people in the Islamic world want to share freedoms that we have, and would write their constitution to have Western values of freedom in them. Women in the Islamic society just believe that our freedom is too excessive and they don’t like the way women are portrayed in our society.

Muslim men and women both believe that Shariah law would protect them from corrupt Arab regimes and would ensure that they had basic civil liberties. A lot of the reason people are so afraid of Islam is because the really radical minority has been the one that has been the most vocal and has been acting like it is taking control of the Islamic religion. If people would do the research for themselves though they would see that these people are just terrorists. They don’t represent the Islamic people.

We can use the Islamic religion to discredit them. People fear what they don’t understand so that’s why rather than blame the radicals and the 7% of the Muslim extremists they choose to blame all of Islam for everything. That’s why we’re seeing this kind of debate and people saying some of the things they’re saying. It’s ignorance, but I believe with time and communication with Middle Eastern people (not the leaders of their states) we will understand them better.