The image and portrayal of Muslims through the media and the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, has dramatically affected the Muslim community. Subsequent to the terrorist attack of September 11th, the Muslim community became victimized by the media and portrayed as terrorists. As a result, Muslims are victims of bullying in schools, hate crimes, and prejudice in the everyday world. The negative image that the media paints of Muslims have led to a dramatic increase in the fear and stereotypes of Muslims, also known as Islamophobia.
On September 11, 2001, a horrific terrorist attack that left the entire country of the United States in complete despair occurred. People needed a way to make sense of the tragedy they had just bore witness to. The media immediately started reporting that the attack was performed by Muslim terrorists. Due to the way the terrorists appeared many concluded that all people with a similar appearance must also be terrorists. This appearance described most of the Muslim community: which included their black hair, beards, brown skin, and the similar clothing that Muslims choose to wear. The quick connection that people made between those men who committed the attack of terrorism and the entire Muslim community was rash and unjust. However, many are unaware that the term Muslim refers to anyone who practices the religion of Islam. Meanwhile, the term Arab refers to the people who speak Arabic and ironically there are even Christian Arabs. The fact of the matter is not every Arab is Muslim, and not every Muslim is Arab. An Arab or Muslim doesn’t even have to be from the Middle East! Muslims can be anywhere and look like anything because it’s only the religion that defines them. People with the prejudiced mindset see Arabs and Muslims as being the same. They also used the term “Arab” as a reference to anyone who looks like a “terrorist”. This view on Muslims is a threat to society and leads to acts of hate and a life full of violence.
Muslims are suffering while living in turmoil. According to Benjamin Shearer, “between 2001 and 2002 there were 525 backlash incidents involving Muslims. The previous year there were 366 incidents, a forty-three percent increase in just a year.” (Shearer) Muslims have not been safe in the workforce either. Shearer states that “the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported 706 discrimination cases in the workplace between September 11, 2001 and September 10, 2002.” (Shearer) That was more than double the previous year in which there were only 323 reported. These acts of discrimination range from being wrongfully discharged to being denied work because of religion or customs. While also including harassment in the workplace. Some are denied prayer breaks, called racial slurs, victims of physical abuse, or in some severe cases having meat or blood thrown at them. Even though the EEOC set a law that you cannot deny someone a job because of religious customs, such as wearing a hijab, it still gets violated. Although even if this law is followed, they can still be harassed by coworkers causing violence in the workplace that can lead to the person leaving the job willingly.
Not only is the Muslim community facing prejudice in the workforce, but kids are also facing harassment in school and college. Schools everywhere are making it harder for Muslim kids to follow their religion in a safe space. For Example according to Laura Finley, “some schools in the United Kingdom have forced kids to pray outside rather than allowing them to meet and pray in peace in the confiding of a private room, despite schools having an obligation to allow students to observe all religious practices, they choose to ignore it.” (Finley) In recent history France has passed a law banning Muslim students to wear a hijab in public schools. Not only does this bullying come from peers in the classroom, but from their own teachers. (Finley) Since the tragedy of September 11th, more anti-Muslim speeches are being given on college campuses and an increase in harassment of Muslim students have taken place. “ In 2003, a hate crime against Muslims was committed at the UCLA medical center, prayer rugs at the chapel were soaked in pork blood.”(Finley) Bullying and harassment are prominent in schools and colleges around the world, caused by kids and adults just the same.
Donald Trump running for election and ultimately becoming the President of the United States was another event that negatively affected the Muslim community. Prejudice attacks against Muslims skyrocketed and reached an all-time high since 2001. At some points throughout the presidential election, Trump seemed to be competing against Muslims rather than the Democratic party. Trump stated during his campaign that if he became president he would seriously consider shutting down mosques throughout the country. He also had an idea to register all Muslims in a nationwide database. The attacks only continued to rise once Trump was elected President of the United States. Each year more and more hate crimes against Muslims are carried out. In 2016 CAIR stated that “Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by more than 40% when being compared to 2015.” (Al Jazeera America) As the leader of the United States Trump passed a travel ban that included five countries in which the population is mostly Muslim. Trump’s travel ban has been criticized and thought to be unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims. Many consider the travel ban to actually be a “Muslim ban”.
The religion of Islam and its followers are severely scrutinized, unlike any other religion. There are many acts of terrorism that claim to be acting in accordance with their religion. One example is Robert Dear, the one who carried out a Planned Parenthood shooting was Christian and was characterized as a Christian terrorist. Robert Dear entered the site with an automatic rifle and killed three people and injured another nine. The Ku Klux Klan is another example of terrorist that had strong ties to Christianity. The burning of the cross was meant to symbolize the light of Christ, the white robes to symbolize purity, and Bible scriptures were picked out to preach white supremacy. In fact, many members of the Ku Klux Klan were preachers and churchgoers. Many Protestant churches in the South supported white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. Some propaganda that was used to help spread the Klan’s message and grow in popularity included an image of a Klan member in uniform standing in a church. The teachings of Christianity were never questioned and Christians have not been harassed or labeled as terrorists or white supremacist. Why are Muslims getting all of the blame for being terrorists when in reality a terrorist could be anybody coming from any background.
The Muslim community since September 11th has struggled with its portrayal that the media has continuously painted them with. Muslims are wrongfully treated and viewed by many as a terrorist because of the actions of a few extremists. The religion of Islam and its followers are criticized unlike any other. Donald Trump has publically displayed prejudice toward Muslims during his presidential campaign and as current President. Since Trump became president hate crimes have drastically increased. People with the prejudiced mindset now feel more empowered to act knowing that the President shares similar views. Are all Muslims radical extremist? No. There are extremists in every branch of religion yet Muslims are the only ones who get stereotyped and judged to the point where the entire religion is in question.