Islamophobia feeds stereotypes

Are you afraid?

He said he would be fearful if he were sitting in an airplane with anyone dressed in Muslim garb.

This type of comment is yet another example of Islamophobia. It is a growing misconception that the majority of Muslims are violent people. It seems like incidents encouraging this type of belief are on the rise.

Some of the most prominent incidents that have happened in the past few months include rejection of a proposal to build a mosque, the threat to burn Qurans (the holy book of Muslims) and this latest discriminatory statement by Juan Willliams of NPR.

According to the Washington Post, Williams was on the Fox network show The O’Reilly Factor when he said, “I mean, look, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Williams lost his job over that statement.

That is a really stereotypical thing to say. He pretty much said that if you are a Muslim and dress like one then you are a terrorist. One can’t just define someone and make judgment about them by the way they dress, our country’s fundamental principles rejects this type of behavior. We, as American citizens, are all guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and that includes the way we dress.

A recent TIME magazine poll backs up this type of reaction in it 46 percent of Americans said that Islam is more likely than other faiths to promote violence. This is yet another stereotype. Just to clear things up, even though many Islamic groups have repeated it over and over again, Islam is a peaceful religion and Muslims are peaceful people, the word Islam comes from salaam, which means peace.

Most American Muslims are just everyday ordinary citizens trying to live normal lives. They have degrees, careers and families just like everyone else. In fact a recent study and poll conducted by John Zogby found that 59 percent had at least a college degree.

How many of you have met a Muslim? Another TIME magazine poll found that only 37 percent of Americans know a Muslim American. There is a way to end this type of prejudice. You can try to get to know Muslim students on campus; there are many of them. There is also the student group the Muslim Students Association; you could also visit the local Mosques. Go in with an open mind. You might just find that all of your fears are gone.

Najah Allouch

Journalism student