Love Is Stronger than Fear: 6 Ways Americans Are Defying Islamaphobia

hug a muslim

By Nur Lalji | Alter Net

On Dec. 8, a man identified as Piro Kolvani reportedly walked into the Fatima Food Mart, in Queens, New York, yelled that he was going to kill Muslims, and began punching the store’s owner, 53-year-old Sarker Haque. A customer restrained Kolvani until police arrived.

The attack is being investigated as a hate crime and, in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, there has been a surge of similar assaults on Muslims.


Related Article: First They Came for the Muslims (and I Didn’t Speak Up Because I Wasn’t a Muslim)

On Nov. 19, a sixth-grade girl in New York was attacked by three of her classmates, who allegedly called her “ISIS.” On Dec. 6, someone left a pig’s head outside the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in Philadelphia. According to Muslim Advocates, an organization fighting discrimination against American Muslims, more than 30 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crime have occurred since the Paris attacks in November and the San Bernardino attack in December. As the people in San Bernardino and Paris deal with a very real grief, it’s clear that these events have led to a heightened fear of Muslims—and some politicians are adding fuel to the fire.
On Dec. 7, Donald Trump called for “a complete shutdown of Muslims in the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” In support of Trump’s proposal, New Hampshire State Representative Al Baldasaro compared it favorably to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Although many have criticized Trump’s remarks—according to the White House, his statements disqualify him from becoming president—it’s still easy to feel a sense of bleakness about being a Muslim in this country following the events that have happened in the past few months.

As a Muslim, I find it upsetting to feel that the actions of a few people may affect the way people view my family, my friends, or myself. And my non-Muslim friends, too, feel disheartened by what recent events could mean for the future.

There are, however, many people who are determined to spread peace and understanding in the wake of these attacks.  Here are six different ways people are combating Islamophobia across the country.

1. Muslims lead peace rallies

On Nov. 27, in Dearborn, Michigan, Muslim protestors—calling themselves Dearborn Muslims Against Terrorism—held a demonstration outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library. Members of the group called for peace and support for the Syrian refugees. They also pointed out that ISIS makes up a minute fraction of Muslims worldwide.

Hundreds of Muslims also held an antiterrorism rally in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6. Many held signs expressing solidarity with the victims of the San Bernardino attacks and opposition to ISIS, while others served food.

“We feel great in showing our allegiance to America and pray to God to bless America and its people.”

On Dec. 11, the Pakistani American Society of South Jersey led a peace rally outside Philadelphia’s city hall. “I thought that a rally would give an opportunity to all of us to share our grief … we hold in our sympathies and prayers the innocent victims of such heinous acts,” Owais Lari, the organization’s president, said, “We stand united with the rest of the country and promote tolerance.”

Lari hopes that, in addition to showing solidarity with the victims of the San Bernardino attack, the rally will also challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslims in the media. “I am not aware of any other country that has allowed immigrants to feel at home and become proud Americans. We feel great in showing our allegiance to America and pray to God to bless America and its people.”

Related Article: Muslims Are Not More Violent Than People of Other Religions & Here Are the Facts to Prove It

2. Students embrace Muslims

Following Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, Muslim students at the University of Virginia decided to fight Islamophobia through hugs. Muskan Mumtaz and a few of her classmates stood in front of the university’s Garrett Hall on Dec. 7 and 8, wearing blindfolds and holding signs that read, “Hug a Muslim.” Mumtaz estimates that around 100 people participated each day.

Mumtaz, who studies history and religion at U.Va., was inspired by similar events that took place in Europe. “I thought it would be a simple yet effective way to tackle Islamophobia in my immediate community,” she said. “I wanted my peers to realize that Muslim Americans are not an ‘other,’ and that we do not fall outside the American community. We’re your doctors, your lawyers, your teachers. The United States is and always will be our home, simple as that.”

For Mumtaz, a refugee from Kashmir, these events have had a personal resonance. “I understand the types of situations these people are fleeing from,” Mumtaz said. “What Carson and Trump don’t seem to realize is that refugees are the primary victims of Islamic extremism, and to turn them away on the basis of their religion is not only unconstitutional but also inhumane.”

Related Article: Muslims Protect Jews by Forming “Ring of Peace” Around Synagogue

3. Hashtags take off

Many Muslims displayed their solidarity for the victims of recent terror attacks through Twitter. Hashtags like #NotinMyName and #TerrorismHasNoReligion resurfaced after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, while #YouAintNoMuslimBruv began to trend following the stabbing attacks in Leytonstone, England.

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  1. 146895225676029@facebook.com' Jamma John Anderson says:

    Shared

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  3. 986234544775723@facebook.com' Stéphan Therrien says:

    Yes but not stronger than Danger?

  4. 10205534981830021@facebook.com' Ray Clause says:

    What demonstrations?

  5. 1084135888266266@facebook.com' Jonax David says:

    There’s no need to fear anybody. They human being just as we are, counter their stupid act.

  6. 10205534981830021@facebook.com' Ray Clause says:

    A phobia is a “fear”. Two attacks back to back is reason to have concerns.

  7. 978474748875490@facebook.com' Marc Santos says:

    The home of the Brave is BETTER than the politics of FEAR.

  8. 926275467462299@facebook.com' Soon Yum Wong says:

    Love all beings including all animals is the God ordained way to peace and to heaven.

  9. 1172520289428305@facebook.com' Gemma Thompson says:

    Too scary to go anywhere

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