Maryland — In a contemporary world, it’s difficult to discuss the issue of religious discrimination due to a variety of factors, most commonly, the topic assails people with discomfort and unease. These sentiments are more than understandable — there is a certain level of nuance that exists within this problem, which complicates the affair further.
Islamophobia, harbored animosity against individuals of the Islamic Faith, is the second most predominant form of religious prejudice in the United States. A manifestation of utter malice, Muslims are arbitrarily targeted on the sole basis of their doctrine through hate crimes and other acts of contempt. Additionally, news and media outlets have often unintentionally promoted these biases by portraying Muslims as being inclined by violence, an ironic notion considering Islam is regarded as the “religion of peace.” Considering this inequality, it is imperative that members of alternate denominations, collectively, to combat these harmful stereotypes through an unwavering solidarity with the Muslim community.
Though, the most pertinent question concerning this remains: how do you work toward resolving this historical matter — endeavoring to reverse decades of egregious injustice and bigotry — all the while remaining tactful? It starts with breaking the stigma.
Muslim Americans compose less than 1% of the U.S. populace; they are a fraction of the public. Despite their sparse numbers, in 2019, the Hate Crime Statistics Report listed by the FBI states that offenses against Muslims accounted for 13% of all anti-religious transgressions. This disparity is alarming, especially when acknowledging the minimal amount of coverage this subject receives. The necessity for discourse has never been so pertinent — it needs to be destigmatized.
On a fundamental level, it is impossible to achieve resolution without at least starting a conversation. While it may be intimidating to tackle something as intricate as Islamophobia, it’s truly simple. To encourage social reform, advocate for your Muslim peers in-person and online, donate to organizations that specialize in protecting marginalized religious peoples, or contact state and federal legislatures. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are both credible institutions that actively strive to provide additional assistance to disenfranchised Muslims across the United States. Consider visiting their websites to learn more about their respective causes and to better understand their individual goals.
Locally, try to establish Muslim Student Unions, volunteer for nearby mosques, cooperate with lawmakers to nullify discriminatory bills like “Andy’s Law” — an anti-Islamic decree that aims to harm Muslim business-owners under the guise of terrorist protection. Any mode of assistance provided to the Muslim community is immensely beneficial, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. It is our responsibility as representatives of the youth to dismantle taboos concerning topics that have been perpetually disregarded, such as Islamophobia.
Ultimately, the dilemma of addressing religious oppression in the United States does not lie in the nature of the issue itself, but instead in the lack of awareness concerning it. Meaning, catalyzing reform is entirely plausible with the correct mindset and vocal efforts. The first step to change is actionable behavior.