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Islamophobia: A Cause of Domestic Terrorist Attacks

By Jaime Rosenberg, December 22, 2017

The Islamic State (ISIS) has instilled fear into nations world-wide after conducting over 70 terrorist attacks in 20 different nations. After 9/11, Islamophobia has become an epidemic across the United States and is growing every day. Muslim Americans have felt physically threatened and made to believe that they are culturally inferior in comparison to other Americans. President, Donald Trump has only made Islamophobia in the United States more prevalent with his Anti-Muslim rhetoric and with the issuance of his Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Counterterrorism through American history has always put the civil liberties of US citizens to test with the passing of legislation such as the US PATRIOT Act and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. With the looming threat of ISIS, the issue of national security became a main issue of the 2016 presidential election. Now that President Donald Trump is in office, there has been a lot of concerns with some of the comments that he has made, targeting Muslim Americans and encouraging this fear called Islamophobia.

With the Anti-Muslim rhetoric of President Trump, many people fear that hate crimes will increase. During the Trump campaign, the now President Trump proposed to ban Muslims from the United States. In December 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. Trump then changed his proposal to stop immigration “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.” Keeping up with his campaign promise. President Trump issued Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” which imposes a 90-day travel ban, with some exceptions, on the citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.  The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days.

The rhetoric that Trump used throughout his campaign and his presidency has validated these feelings of Islamophobia and there is fear that hate crimes against Muslims will only get worse. Muslim Americans fear for their safety and have even stopped wearing their traditional hijabs in public to avoid any conflict.

Muslim Americans all over the United States have experienced hate crimes since Donald Trump became the President. The Council on American-Islamic Relations have recorded 111 Anti-Muslim bias incidents since the election. One of these incidents happening to Azra Baig, a school board member in New Jersey who had her re-election signs for the school board vandalized with sayings like “Miss ISIS, Anti-American, and Raghead.” According to US News, anti-Islamic hate crimes have increased in the last several years, recording approximately 200 incidents in 2014.

John Carlin, the former assistant attorney general for national security, warned the US legislators of the detrimental effects of Islamophobia and how this fear only contributes to the domestic terrorist attacks that our US government is trying so hard to prevent. Carlin stated that the integration of American Muslims into the country “has been a major boon to the law enforcement and intelligence community in disrupting the terrorist threat.” It is imperative that the American Muslim community is treated no differently than the rest of American society, which sadly is not the case. Every day there are accounts of hate crimes all around the country and constant instances of discrimination against Muslims in airports, making this community feel threatened. Carlin believes that the Muslim American community feels like they have not been able to assimilate entirely, creating a complex problem.

Engy Abdelkader, a professor at Georgetown University who teaches courses on international terrorism, human rights, and civil liberties stated that, “Islamophobia, including xenophobic political rhetoric (that excludes refugees), exacerbates cultural homelessness because it erodes a sense of purpose while feeding the extremist narrative that our societies are anti-Islam and anti-Muslim.” When a certain group is constantly oppressed, they feel that the only way for them to express their feelings towards the oppressors is to lash out, causing these domestic terrorist attacks. “Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim” narratives are being expressed through the media and by our nation’s leaders.

With the ISIS driven domestic terrorist attack that took place at Ohio State University on November 19, 2016, the attacker and university student Abdul Razak Ali Artan stated in a student-run newspaper that he was afraid for his safety as a Muslim. His statement referred to his fear of praying in public, “If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.” Artan rammed his vehicle into pedestrians and then got out and attacked a student with a knife he had bought that day. Shortly before these attacks, Artan stated on Facebook, that he was “sick and tired” of seeing fellow Muslims “killed and tortured.” Artan caused this terrorist attack because he was tired of his fellow Muslim Americans being oppressed. He stated in the student-run newspaper his feelings about not knowing if he should pray in public: “I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.” Artan was just one of the 3.3 Muslim Americans living in the United States.

In order to combat these domestic terrorist attacks, the Trump administration needs to first, make a public announcement rescinding the Executive Order and denouncing the perpetrators who are enacting these hate crimes against Muslim Americans. Second, the Trump administration needs to focus resources on connecting with the Muslim American community to make them feel like they are supported and can practice their beliefs in peace. With the continuation of these hate crimes, there will ultimately be more domestic terrorist attacks like the attack at Ohio State University. ISIS can be combated here in the United States but first the elimination of Islamophobia is necessary for moving forward.


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