Muslims in California are fearing scorn and backlash from the community in and around San Bernardino, California. San Bernardino was the location of a potential terrorist attack perpetrated by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. When news broke that the fatal attack that killed 14 and injured over 20 were Muslim, leaders from the Islamic Circle of North America met on a conference call to determine the type and tone of the statement they felt they needed to release. Director of the ICNA, Waqas Syed, commented about how they felt after the tragedy.
“We are not able to grieve with our fellow Americans when tragedies like this happen. We have to think about defending ourselves and praying that the perpetrators are not Muslim.”
Hours after it was discovered that one of the shooters was Syed Rizwan Farook, multiple Muslim groups had been in contact with Farook’s brother-in-law and held a press conference where they condemned the brutal attack.
— Jenkers News (ENG) (@jenkers_en) December 4, 2015
This is not the first time that Syed’s group, and other Muslim groups, have had to do damage control after a terrorist attack on American soil. Muslim organizations had to do the same thing after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Muslims in California are not the only Muslims who are feeling a backlash against their communities. On the other side of the country, in Maryland, Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer for the New American Foundation, feared for the safety of her seven-year-old daughter and kept her home from her private Islamic school.
“I think we are all feeling exhausted and very vulnerable. I’m angry at those people who did this attack. And I’m angry at how this is being politicized. Everything boils down to: ‘We should fear Muslims. And they shouldn’t be here.’ “
Muslims all across the United States say that they feel the anti-Muslim feelings from those who believe that all Muslims are dangerous and a threat to national security. Even though the massacre in California has not been officially labored a terrorist attack, Muslims across the country are already preparing themselves for the anti-Muslim backlash that they are sure is coming.
Houston Muslims praying for California shooting victims in prayer services at mosques around city. pic.twitter.com/dz98mtOzQ0
— Tim Wetzel (@KHOUTim) December 4, 2015
Those in the Muslim community state that Americans have a difficult time discerning the radical Muslim extremism being seen by ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and the religion of Islam. Arsalan Iftikhar has been researching the anti-Muslim atmosphere in the United States. He commented on the headline that was posted on the front page of the New York Post which read, “MUSLIM KILLERS.”
“When a Muslim American commits a murder, their religion is brought front and center. With anyone else, it’s a crazy, kooky loner.”
Muslims feel that the anti-Muslim hatred that is bubbling across the country is due to the statements being spoken by the GOP presidential candidates, specifically Donald Trump. Trump has gone on record in saying that he would put certain mosques under surveillance in order to find those who are radicalized. Muslims say that unwarranted surveillance would violate their civil rights. Arsalan Iftikhar commented further on the growing Muslim hatred.
“Islamophobia is the accepted form of racism in America. Leaders like Donald Trump show us that you can take a potshot at Muslims and get away with it.”
The Pew Research Center conducted a study to determine how many Americans feel that Islam is a religion of violence. In 2002, the number was 25 percent. That percentage doubled to 50 percent by 2014.
What can be done to help the Muslims in California and around the country get their message across that the vast majority of them do not wish to do harm to anyone? Are Americans justified in how they feel towards Muslims and the religion of Islam?
[Image Via AP Photo/Nick Ut]