By AAMINAH AKBAR
Contrary to what some may believe, being a Muslim is not the same as being a terrorist. Whether someone is born as a Muslim or converts to one, it’ll never mean what society believes it to. Whether someone wears a hijab or covers their entire body, that person isn’t less of a normal human being. Yet, even though American society should know these things by now, they still haven’t completely accepted the religion of Islam and even Muslims as young as high schoolers face this prejudice in their daily lives.
Though Irvine may be a colorful community, even it is not exempt from these prejudices. “I’ve been a Muslim since I was born and the difficulties I’ve experienced over the years are not really even difficulties anymore. I’m so used to small comments or stares that it doesn’t really matter to me, and I think that’s just sad.” said freshman Aaliyah Akbar. “Living in constant fear of the possibility that anything could happen whether it’s when I’m walking alone or with my mom who wears a hijab, there is always some fear in the back of my mind of what could happen and I hate that.”
According to the New York Times, attacks on Muslims have increased up to 78%, since the beginning of 2015. These attacks include arsons in mosques, assaults, shootings, and threats of violence and majority of these attacks are on Muslims in hijabs or other traditional Muslim garbs. In the second quarter of 2018 alone, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported about 1,006 potential attacks against Islam.
“Seeing how there is a constant threat of attacks on people like me saddens me, it’s who I am and I don’t understand why someone has to be hurt because of who they choose to be and what they choose to believe. It just doesn’t make sense and can’t be justified,” said junior Yasmin Reshad.
There is even a term for hating Muslims: “Islamophobia”. It is defined as the dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force. Many Islamophobes say they don’t hate Muslims, only the religion of Islam itself. But what is the difference? Following Islam and being a Muslim are the same exact thing; if someone hates one, they also hate the other.
A particular source of tension is the building of Islamic mosques; there are currently 2,106 mosques in America, but there are petitions all over the world to stop building them. There are also hundreds of vandalism cases against these mosques.
Despite all of this, Islam is still the second largest religion in the world, with over 1.5 billion people identifying as Muslim. For Muslims, their belief and faith are prioritized ahead of what society threatens against them.
“I chose to be a Muslim and I choose to believe in what I believe in but what I believe in isn’t supposed to automatically make me different than everyone else, not a human being. I am a person and my faith is only getting stronger through every insult or look I get from others, it’ll never break my beliefs or who I am,” said junior Aminah Keftaro.
As the threats against Muslims have continued to expand over the years, Islam continues to be empowered by whatever society terrorizes its people with through their faith and over the next decade or so, society will realize that there is really no difference between people who are Muslims and people who are not, and the constant jeopardy people of Islam have been in for years will be concluded.