Stop targeting Muslims

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Islamophobia in the world today

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Islam is the second largest religion in the world after Christianity, with a significant following in pretty much every country on Earth.

Like every religion, Islam has many different sects, viewpoints, and diversity in its followers. They are guided by common beliefs about Muhammad and his teachings, but otherwise the people who follow it are just as diverse as any other group. Muslims exist in every country on Earth and come from all races and backgrounds.

The term “radical Islam” is gaining traction. Indeed, many terrorist groups, such as ISIS, are a form of extreme Islam. In the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church (who regularly picket soldier’s funerals, believing their deaths to be a punishment from God) could be considered “radical Christians,” and do not speak for the vast majority of Christians, “radical Islam” groups do not represent Islam. Many believe using the term is essential to understanding and stopping these terrorist enemies, while 0thers feel the usage of that term leads people to believe that killing is a core value of Islam (it’s definitely not) and that it leads to ignorance over what terrorism really is: Independent of any one religion.

I cannot believe the amount of misinformation and fear that perpetuates so much of the Muslim community. If some misinformed people are to be believed, all Muslims want anyone who isn’t a Muslim dead, believe all women should have no rights whatsoever, are hopeful for a collapse of Western society as we know it, and are secretly working towards a theocracy dominated by oppression and terrorist tactics.

If all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world really wanted to take over and eliminate any and all non-Muslims, you’d think they would have done so already. It is true that cultural differences in certain areas can lead Muslims to have ideas about non-Muslims and Western culture that are foreign and perhaps even detrimental to us. Many countries have Islam coded into law, and have horrible human rights records. However, there are also many Islamic countries that are democratic and beautiful places to live. In addition, the rules/interpretations by certain governments do not represent that of all their citizens.

Many Muslims in North America are immigrants, or recent descendants of immigrants. Some are refugees, coming to our country as it is a safe zone in contrast to the war-torn areas they’re originally from. Much Islamophobia comes from the misguided belief that someone whose house was bombed by ISIS has the same values as an ISIS member. Refugees are very thoroughly screened for behaviour that could jeopardize the safety of Canada/America, and if they don’t pass, we don’t let them in.

Muslims are human beings. They have their own dreams, values, and lives, just like Christians, athiests, or anyone else. A Muslim is someone who follows the principles and teachings of Muhammad, whom they believe to be a prophet of God/Allah. Although the Quran is a significant text valued by many and believed to be the Word of Allah, it is not taken literally by many Muslims, just as most Christians don’t take everything in the Bible at face value, either.

People fear what they don’t understand. Those who worry about the popularity of Islam or are afraid of Muslims are guided by ignorance and misinformation. Most of all, they miss the humanity aspect: I’m sure they’ve never been friends with a Muslim and gotten to know the person behind the faith. Many respected celebrities are Muslims: Shaquille O’Neal, Cat Stevens, and the late Muhammad Ali, to name a few. Hopefully, the spread of misinformation and fear-mongering about human beings with certain religious beliefs will stop soon. It’s one of the most ridiculous and terrifying forms of prejudice so noticeable around us today.