With the constant tendency to stereotype ubiquitously throughout society, it is inevitable that certain groups are painted as "bad" and "evil." Stereotypes often begin when people are uneducated about others and are quick to base their assumptions on what they hear from others. As a young Muslim-American, it bothers me when people associate Islam with terrorism or America with greed. When I hear people attack what I identify with, I feel myself questioning how accepting and understanding society really is. There is more to Islam just as there is more to America. Fresh U reached out to several Muslim college students and asked them about Islamophobia.
Nenar, a sophomore, from Nova Southeastern University told Fresh U:
"As a college sophomore who has faced some degree of Islamophobia throughout my life, I've become used to it and it doesn't affect me anymore; however when I was younger, it bothered me because I was no different than everyone."
Nenar's perspective is rather interesting because he has been facing Islamophobia for so long that he became desensitized to comments against Islam. It is quite sad that someone has been facing negativity for so long that they don't even get bothered by it.
Habbul, a freshman Fresh U contributor, said:
"I am very open with my beliefs and, most of the time, I talk about it on social media like Twitter. I have received direct messages from different users shunning entire Muslim groups for 9/11 and how, because of me, ISIS happened."
An article by Georgetown University goes more in depth with how often Islamophobia is seen on social media. The study referred to in the article goes in depth with how often individuals turn to social media to attack others. The study was conducted after two Muslim men murdered Lee Rigby, a British soldier. The researchers tracked tweets from about a hundred Twitter accounts after the incident and nearly, ". . . seventy-five percent of the Tweets showed strong negative feelings towards Islam, justifying the abuse by blaming all Muslims for the killing of Lee Rigby."
When asked what he would tell people about Islam, Shayaan, a junior at the University of Miami, told Fresh U:
"One thing I would tell people is that Islam is like any other faith, we are taught to do good and spread that among others just like other faiths. If other faiths aren't associated with violence just because of a few bad people, then neither should Islam."
A Huffington Post article, Muslims Are Not Terrorists: A Factual Look on Terrorism, goes into more depth with the concept Shayaan brought up. The article referenced a study conducted by the FBI and, within the study, it was shown that 94 percent of terrorist attacks in the United States were not done by Muslims. Out of those 94 percent, their religion is never affiliated with terrorism, so why are Muslims instantly tainted with terrorism?
Sanya, a sophomore, Nova Southeastern University related:
"It is actually surprising to see Islamophobia that even the Islamic community exhibits. I've seen some Muslims trying to stay away from the other Muslims in fear of people finding out."
To elaborate on this, Sanya went on to tell Fresh U about how she has seen Muslim college students avoid going to the Muslim Student Association meetings or events just because they don't want anyone to know they're Muslim. Her point struck us the most because people often associate Islamophobia with non-Muslims, but it is common within the Islamic community as well.
Bilal, a graduate student at Florida International University, told Fresh U how to deal with Islamophobia:
"When dealing with Islamophobia, try to remain calm and be the bigger person. If they give you hate, give them twice as much love."
If you witness an act of Islamophobia, please follow this guide created by Maeril. It goes step by step as to what to do when you see someone attacking a Muslim. According to the Islamophobia tracker updated by the Huffington Post, there have been over 260 hate crimes or acts of Islamophobia in 2016. The website tracks and updates every known act of Islamophobia in the United States.
Nawal, a sophomore, Nova Southeastern University student shared with Fresh U her feelings as a Muslim girl:
"As a girl who has been wearing a hijab for the past eight years, I have always felt people's stares. It's strange because people are so hesitant to come up to me but will easily talk to my friends."
Going more in depth with this, Nawal spoke about how people assume they can't talk to her simply because she wears the hijab. They are quick to believe that the hijab means the girl is oppressed or is reserved but in reality, the truth is far from that. An article by The Guardian centers around the burkini ban in France and how one woman was forced to remove her burkini at the beach after the Nice attack this past summer. Within the article it was revealed that while the police were forcing her to remove her burkini, people were screaming at her and telling her to "go home."
Moheeb, a senior at Nova Southeastern University told Fresh U:
"It is actually disappointing when individuals can't open up to the fact that Muslims are people. We all are people. If they can't accept that, then that is sad for humanity."
According this Guardian article centered around Islamophobia, nearly 55 percent of Americans who were asked how they felt about Islam had somewhat of a negative view towards Muslims. This statistic is a hard one to process because over half of the group of Americans polled believed Muslims were dangerous to society.
Khaled, a freshman at Florida State University, shared with Fresh U how this made him feel:
"Islamophobia makes me feel trapped, in a sense. If people knew out front that I am a Muslim, then they might discriminate against me in some way, shape or form; however if I don't stay true to who I am, then who am I really?"
As a convert, Khaled struggles with Islamophobia in ways most Muslims don't. His family is against his conversion to Islam and he feels his true self isn't good enough for the world to see. He went on to tell Fresh U that, at the end of the day, Muslims are people too, and they don't deserve the discrimination they often face.
After interviewing several Muslim college students and hearing about their experiences with Islamophobia, it became clear that even if you aren't directly a victim of Islamophobia, it can still have a huge effect. Islam is a peaceful religion and it isn't right to stereotype all Muslims for what some "Muslims" have done.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels via Pixabay