Discrimination is defined as unfair and unjust treatment of people based on their religion, race, color or sex. History tells us, no country or society was totally free of discrimination. Discriminatory traditions and practice are as ancient as history itself. Modern-day discrimination dates back to European colonization of Asian, American and African societies. Holocaust, genocide and ethnic cleansing can be considered highest forms of discrimination. Discrimination against Muslims in America is on the rise though egalitarian principles of American constitution have barred and discouraged the discriminatory practice in its territory.
Discrimination and intolerance against Muslim community are not wholly new phenomena in America. In some cases, Muslims are not getting equal access to housing, education, and employment. Hate speech, physical assaults, religious profiling and verbal harassment toward Muslims are common forms of discriminatory practice in America. Sometimes, Muslim women who wear hijab also face discrimination in their workplace. A recent Pew study has found that discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in the United States. According to the study, “And while Muslims say they face a variety of challenges and obstacles in the U.S., this too is nothing new. The share of U.S. Muslims who say it is getting harder to be a Muslim in America has hovered around 50% over the past 10 years. Over the same period, half or more of Muslims have consistently said that U.S. media coverage of Muslims is unfair.” Almost 3.35 million Muslims have been living in the United States are concerned about their future because minor forms of discrimination sometimes lead to more serious issues.
Discrimination against Muslims in America has made a big step forward after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attack. Many Americans now tend to believe that Muslims do not love this country and its culture. Misperception of this kind is no way true. A Muslim-American loves the United States as much as everyone does. We all breathe the same air, eat the same food and follow the same constitution. We all cherish American values and culture. During the time of a crisis, we all rally around the same flag. We are the same people. We are all Americans in our hearts and minds. There is no such thing as more or less American.
Terrorist attacks, the financial crisis of 2008, xenophobia and increasing diversity in American society have caused a sharp increase in resentment against Muslims. It is true; some people from the Muslim community have done terrible and barbaric things to the innocent people and to our country, but they are not normal people. They are terrorists and criminals. General Muslims have no connection or sympathy for them. Muslims do not support any form of violence. “He who kills a soul unless it is (in legal punishment) for murder or for causing disorder and corruption on the earth will be as if he had killed the human race, and he who saves a life will be as if he had saved the human race.”– The Holy Quran (Chapter Five, Verse 32)
President Trump’s decision to enforce travel ban against some Muslim-majority countries have caused discomfort and concern among some Muslims in our country. Sometimes, discrimination leads to the isolation and alienation of Muslims from the mainstream American society. Some politicians in our country have blamed and tainted Islam to get political benefits. The spread of fear and division of society can disrupt religious and communal harmony in our country. Our government has the responsibility to defend religious freedom. It will also ensure that every religious group may enjoy equal rights and opportunities without the fear of discrimination. Religious freedom and equality are fundamental elements of American society. Those unalienable rights, enshrined in our constitution cannot be limited or suspended for the pretext of national security.
Mazharul Islam studied at York College / The City University of New York (CUNY).