Letter: A Muslim perspective on terrorism and a response to the #ParisAttacks
Adam Alattry | Student Government Association president
“If anyone kill a person, it would be as if he killed all of humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.” – Quran 5:32
Growing up in a Muslim household in the United States, the only Islam I knew was one who preached love, compassion, charity, acceptance and empathy. So what is this violence everyone is talking about? When does that part come in?
After Sept. 11, 2001, perceptions of me and my religion were forever changed. At seven years old, I remember being told to “go back to where I came from.” I remember my aunt getting verbally harassed at a grocery store because she was wearing a hijab. I remember being told “my people” were the reason the TSA checkpoints were so strenuous and inconvenient. It didn’t take long before I realized how easy it was to stereotype different races, ethnicities and religions based on the actions of a few.
Painting 1.5 billion Muslims with a single, narrow brush is easy when the words “Islam” and “terrorism” are used interchangeably in the media. However, it’s important to exercise a great deal of skepticism with regards to any ‘religiously-affiliated’ terrorist organization. You wouldn’t tie Christianity back to the Ku Klux Klan. So why do we continously find ourselves tying Islam back to Al-Qaeda?
According to a report released by the United Nations, ISIS has killed nearly 9,000 Muslims and wounded roughly 16,000 others in the first eight months of 2014 alone. They’ve also displaced nearly 1.8 million Iraqis, leaving them with nowhere to go. They have killed more people from the religion they claim to represent than people of any other religion combined. This is why we mustn’t claim war on religion, but rather on the terrorists hiding behind the guise of religion.
As Dr. Reza Aslan puts it: “Every religion in the world depends on what you bring to it. If you’re a violent person, your Islam — your Judaism —your Christianity — your Hinduism — your Buddhism is going to be violent.”
Foreign and domestic acts of Islamic extremism are the greatest causes of Islamophobia in today’s society; fighting terrorism and fighting Islamophobia are inexorably intertwined. This distorted image of Islam is what caused me to pursue a career in counterterrorism. I want nothing more than to be able to serve this country and show the side of Islam no one sees.
What will you do to combat racism and narrow-mindedness? Will you research a religion other than your own? Will you counter racist comments on your timeline with insight and wisdom? Will you pledge to be more open-minded toward people of different backgrounds?
Adam Alattry is the president of the Student Government Association at the University of North Texas. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy | Wikimedia Commons
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