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Jehanara Haider's picture

I have struggled lately to find motivation as well as inspiration to pen down my thoughts as a Muslim living in America which is a surprise as well as a disappointment. Surprise because there is so much going on that I would have enough material to focus on such as and among others.  I have felt disheartened every time issues pertaining and directly affecting Muslims are discussed on national television without there being a Muslim on the panel. Increasingly it has become obvious that dehumanizing and denigrating Muslims is fair game and not in bad taste at all.

Muslims living in America are a diverse community working in all sectors of our economy and contributing to society each and every day. Why is it that our media cannot reach out to them and live life in their shoes for one day and broadcast that, so that average Americans could wrap their head around the fact that we are not a scheming, conniving and threatening bunch of folks and The recent news of plans to make a Muslim Community Center being defeated in Bayonne, NJ after a heated discussion and voting by a zoning board made me think of how close minded we have become and how unwilling we are to allow each other to practice our faiths. We, as Muslims also have a long arduous journey ahead of us and the sooner we realize that the better our situation can become.  We need to present our side of the story, take control of the narrative and prove that we practice our religion is a nonviolent manner and speak out against those who are consistently misinterpreting and violating the basic tenets of our faith. I am heartened to see people from all walks of life and all colors turn out in the cold and rain and at airports to support our precious freedoms and denounce bigotry and prejudice and that gives me hope that hate will not triumph but this road will have bumps and setbacks and we need to put our reading glasses on and open up our hearts.

My son was born here, this is the country he will always call home and his loyalties will be reserved for this land. I shudder to think what questions, insults, “travel bans” or prejudice he will face if we do not curb this rising trend of Muslim bashing. Today it is focused on us and tomorrow this hatred can be targeted on other religious minorities and people of color, even though that is already happening.  It is unfair and illogical to lump the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims into a narrow category of violent extremists.  Reports of hate crimes against Muslims are at their highest levels since 2001

I agree with Brian Resnick when he says and I quote “It also helps to get white Americans to think through their hypocrisy. In a study under review, Bruneau finds that when white people are asked questions such as, “Are all Christians responsible for the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church?” they begin to see the folly of blaming all Muslims for a single act of terror. “The hypocrisy is totally unconscious for people,” Bruneau explains. (The point isn’t to call people hypocrites, but rather to have them come to the realization on their own.)”

I know my thoughts seem all over the place however let me be clear as to what I want to achieve by this rambling jumble of words. I would like all of us to read the links I have scattered throughout this piece, to do our research with an open mind, to be mindful of each other’s beliefs and life styles. Let us teach each other and those around us that America is great already due to its diversity, freedoms and constitutional rights and making some ethnicities, individuals or groups more equal than others will not serve any purpose.  

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