Imagine a world where not a single soul was hurt or affected by the painful words of prejudice; where African Americans could roam the streets, untouched by the discriminatory words of others; where hispanics are not given a label as “illegal” or uneducated;” and where there is no distinction between “us” and “them.” Imagine a world where a young Muslim girl like me can be proud of her faith and religious beliefs, not ashamed of them. Imagine the peace we could have upon us all.
Picture sitting in your classroom, the day before winter break begins, talking about your vacation amongst your friends. Picture a thirteen-year-old Muslim girl telling her classmates about the trip she’s taking to Pakistan to visit family. A classroom full of excited students, no worry in the world. Now, picture a boy in the back of the room shouting out, “Watch out for the terrorists,” while everyone laughs, but the girl is sitting there expressionless. That girl was me. No child should have to deal with such derogatory comments or even hide her religious beliefs for the sake of staying safe. We now live in a time in which you will be seen differently based on which God or how many Gods you believe in–a time in which you will be judged and labeled based on how you look or what language you speak.
Being stopped and questioned at the airport because we have Muslim names, skipping school on September 11, and not being able to wear a headscarf because it made me feel unsafe. These are just a few examples of many discriminatory stereotypes people face everyday.
Today, one of the most widely discussed issues is the negative image of Islam which is depicted by the media. While appeals to the media for accuracy and fairness continue, other forms of written media such as newspaper headlines regularly use words like “terroristic,” “violence,” “radical,” and more, all pinned against the Islamic community. One of the main events which sparked this uproar of hate against Muslims was, of course, the attack on September 11, 2001. Since then, the world has been given a new pair of eyes and has begun to see every Muslim as some kind of violent threat. If the perpetrators of this attack happened to practice Judaism, would the world see Jews differently? Or Christians? The hate towards Muslims would not completely vanish, but a good amount of it would. Since the years of 2001-2002, the rate of hate crimes against Muslims continued to increase every year, showing no signs of a decrease.
Unfortunately, this type of discrimination does not seem to be disappearing. The only way to stop this kind of racism is to understand the true beauty behind Islam and to see that Muslims mean no harm to anything or anyone.