Angry politics fuel Islamaphobia
In the lingering tension of last week’s Murfreesboro, Tenn., mosque protests, several more indications have risen that Islamaphobia is becoming more than just a flash in the pan issue in this country.
On Friday, two Muslim women were assaulted at a gas station in Tukwila, Wash. The women said 37-year-old Jennifer Leigh Adams approached them, yelling comments like “suicide bomber,” “why don’t you go back to your country,” and eventually slammed one of the women’s legs in her car door and pushed the other.
Fortunately, Adams was arrested and slapped with two felony accounts of malicious harassment.
Other incidents have been less direct, but still perpetuate the ongoing problem with this country’s perception of Islam. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit India next month, and it is not likely he will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar in fear that wearing the religious head covering required to enter would rekindle the rumors that he is a Muslim.
The President’s decision to avoid visiting the Temple has disappointed the Sikh community here at home and abroad.
For a president that has transcended issues of race, it arguably could be seen as a missed opportunity to confront the issue of Islamaphobia head-on and perhaps create a healthy dialogue opposite to the dialogue of violence and vandalism we have seen so far.
Also making headlines was NPR’s firing of reporter Juan Williams. Williams stated on the O’Reilly Factor that he “gets nervous” when riding on an airplane with passengers who are wearing “Muslim garb.”
The major critic of NPR’s decision has been Fox News, which has decided to hire Williams and highlight the incident as being unfair and even racist.
The opinions given by Williams were unacceptable to NPR due to contract and were the ultimate justification given for Williams’ firing.
NPR Chief Executive Officer Vivian Schiller has acknowledged that the practice of releasing Williams from the reporting staff wasn’t done correctly but still stands by NPR’s decision.
Islamaphobia is a result of an inability to understand something that is foreign to one’s own way of thinking. Just as we’ve seen in the past with any other civil rights issue that has consumed this country, it is up to us to learn the facts.
Acceptance of others and resistance to negativity is something our generation should strive for. Ultimately, it may be up to us to make a difference.
John Gervais is a psychology senior and may be reached at [email protected].