Is Islamophobia on the rise in America?
By : Samar Fatany
The U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has shockingly announced to the American people and to the whole world that he supports a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — including Muslim-American citizens.
He stated last month that he would “certainly” implement a system to register and track Muslims in the United States. Although Trump was criticized for his discriminatory policies, it is quite evident from his rise in popularity that he is expressing the sentiments of many Americans who are hostile to Muslims. Trump supporters continue to cheer his action plan to forcibly register Muslims, implying that all Muslim-American families are imminent threats.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric in America is becoming more lethal and the environment is getting more toxic.
Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have also called for accepting only Christian Syrian refugees and banning those who are Muslims. Sadly anti-Muslim prejudice continues and Muslim-haters seem to be becoming more popular in America. There appears to be a concerted and deliberate campaign to promote anti-Muslim fear and hatred and in some places it has developed into anti-Muslim violence.
America’s Islamophobia problem has reached a dangerous level. “We’re witnessing an overall rise in anti-Muslim sentiment following the Paris attacks in the U.S.,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Al-Jazeera this week. “We’re getting a lot of reports from individuals who say they are fearful of traveling. Some Muslims are even concerned about leaving their homes.”
It was reported that Spirit Airlines removed four Middle Eastern passengers from a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International, and U.S. citizens from Philadelphia Maher Khalil and Anas Ayyad were not allowed to board a Southwest flight at Chicago Midway airport and were questioned by police because a passenger heard them speaking Arabic and said that he was afraid to fly on the same aircraft. Also six Muslim passengers were removed from a second Southwest flight traveling from Chicago because of an argument over seating arrangements. And in September, a 14-year-old boy named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.
Hostility toward Muslims
Anti-Muslim groups such as the Center for Security Policy repeatedly argue that all Muslim-American groups are extremist sleeper cells bent on subverting the U.S. Constitution. Ben Carson compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs and deceives the public with false information about Islamic law, for example, claiming that it requires that “people following other religions must be killed.”
CAIR’s Hooper said: “What we’re seeing is the end result of the mainstreaming of Islamophobia by leading public officials, such as Ben Carson and Donald Trump. They have given some form of legitimacy to those who would carry out anti-Muslim attacks or profiling.”
In September, polls found that only 49 percent of Iowa Republicans believed that Islam should be legal, with 30 percent saying it should be illegal and 21 percent “unsure.” Among Trump supporters in Iowa, hostility toward Muslims was higher but not that much higher: 36 percent said Islam should be outlawed. A November nationwide poll found that 56 percent of Americans see Islam as being at odds with American values. Fifty-seven percent of Americans, and 83 percent of Republicans say that Muslims should be barred from the presidency.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric in America is becoming more lethal and the environment is getting more toxic. Statements inciting violence are tolerated and accepted. Fox News repeatedly warns its viewers that Muslims are a threat and should be dealt with forcefully, even violently. Fox talk show host Andrea Tantaros described Islam as a problem: “You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.”
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is fueling more and more hatred against Muslims in America. CAIR reports that Muslims are being targeted with hate mail and phone threats. There have been incidents of verbal and physical attacks on Muslim women wearing the hijab and Muslim students are being bullied in schools. There are also investigations underway with regard to Muslims who have been murdered in cold blood. A woman threw coffee in the face of a Muslim man.
The situation is getting out of control causing many Muslims in the U.S. to fear for their lives. It does not look like Islamophobia in America is going to go away. Donald Trump has opened the gates of hell and unless he is stopped and is charged with inciting hatred, the consequences could be very alarming for the United States and threatening to global coexistence.
Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”
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