Hiba Ahmad, Contributing Columnist
Islamophobia is a growing trend in the United States that shames Muslims. It’s also a growing tactic used by political and social leaders in an effort to further their agendas.
In 2014, Pew Research Center conducted their second ‘Religious Landscape Study’ which said there are 2.8 million Muslims currently living in the United States of America. Apparently, those are 2.8 million votes that many of the candidates for the 2016 presidential election are willing to lose simply because they cannot get past their narrow-minded views of an entire population of people.
Islamophobia has been brought up in multiple televised interviews and debates, and many candidates have refused to address or even acknowledge the growing problem.
Islamophobia hinders those who choose to pursue their Islamic faith from opportunities in the workplace, classroom and elsewhere. Negative, unfounded stereotypes cause rifts between communities and largely holds society back from advancing together.
In Sept. Ahmed Mohammed, a 14-year-old Muslim boy and Texas native, brought a homemade clock to school. His teacher claimed that it “looked like a bomb” and he was later arrested. The arrest sparked uproar on social media and news broadcasts criticizing the bias of the school officials and police department in the area.
This incident occurred a few days before the Republican Debate on CNN, and was brought up in the questions for the candidates. The candidates responses, along with the follow-up questions revealed the ugliness of some and prevalence of Americans’ attitudes towards Muslims.
Most candidates took the opportunity to redirect their replies to ISIS and foreign relations with Iran—important topics, but completely unrelated to the issue at hand. The only exception was Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal who instead talked about Kim Davis, the anti-marriage equality crusader in Kentucky.
Ahmed’s case isn’t the only example of Muslim-bashing that has taken place during this campaigning season, and often times than not, it comes in the most indirect form.
When candidates are approached about a question regarding the Muslim community here in the U.S., somehow it is always redirected to a completely different cause. Even though the Republican candidates are notorious for their comments, in particular Donald Trump, Democratic candidates have also fallen short in addressing the issue of properly.
During the Democratic debate which also aired on CNN a few weeks ago, many of the candidates made broad, overarching statements regarding religious and racial equality.
It seems as if no one wants to touch the topic of Muslims in America—as if we aren’t dynamic players in this election, or the nation for that matter.
How can a candidate claim they stand for every American voice, but not address the issues that those individuals face? Yes, extremist groups like the Islamic State and Al-Queda are a problem and relations with Iran are never going to be perfect. That does not mean that an entire community who has fought and worked to be accepted into a society based on the premise of freedom deserves to be ridiculed for actions they are not responsible for. We need a president who is willing to stand up for us, like any other community in this vast nation.
Donald Trump claims he wants to “make America great again,” but does he plan on doing that by calling all Muslims and Arabs” bad guys? Ben Carson claims that a Muslim could never become president due to conflicts between Sharia and American law. Interestingly enough, people said the same think about African Americans 50 years ago, and today President Barack Obama,, is in his seventh year of his presidency.
When it comes time to go to the polls, I urge students to think about who they are voting for. Everyone is predisposed to support those like themselves, but when you run for an office that is supposed to represent an entire land of individuals from all backgrounds, it is your responsibility to be objective and empathetic. Look toward a candidate that will serve the needs of all the lives this great nation serves, not just a select few communities.