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Most Americans are increasingly incorrect on the true religion of their President, Barack Obama. The number who believe that he practices Islam is growing by the day. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center, a non-biased organization, showed that, in August 2010, 45% of Americans did not know Obama’s faith while 18% strongly believed that he is a Muslim. This is a tremendous increase in relation to a poll conducted on March 2009. This poll showed that only 12% of the population believed Obama is a Muslim while 34% were not aware of his religion or faith (Associated Press n.p.). The August 2010 poll was conducted after Obama said that Muslims had the right to erect an Islamic center near the World Trade Center former site. Although Obama declined on taking a position, many people concluded that he is of the Islamic faith. This claim is supported by his limited attendance at religious services, unlike Bill Clinton.
Today in America, Muslims are perceived incorrectly. Mainstream media have created the wrong picture, thus; the creation of various misconceptions about Muslims. Most people believe that a majority of Arabs in America practices the Islamic religion, but in the real sense, approximately 4% of all Muslims are of Arab origin. The other misconception is that of suppression of the female gender because most Muslim women do not drive or expose their bodies, an issue that has been interpreted as a promotion of terrorism among the believers.
The other misconception is about the mislabeling of any attack. If a Muslim attacks a person, it is labeled as a “terrorism act,” but if a person of a different religion does this, it is labeled as “hate crime.” All these misconceptions need to be remedied with the purpose of revealing the truth about this religion.
If an Internet user types the word “Muslims” on the Google Search Engine, the images that appear first are those that portray the extremely deep-seated Muslims. It is imperative to note that, most of these images have people dressed as Muslims while holding weapons. The same images appear if the word “Iraq” is searched. Most people pay a lot of money for the images to be portrayed on these sites. Mainstream media has allowed this in order to create the image that Islam is indeed associated with terrorism.
A decade after 9/11 events, the Muslims in America have continued to be the victims of the consequences. In the new era, the civil rights of Muslims and their faith has come under attack. Before 9/11, Muslims were conscious of their religion and had taught their offspring in order to conserve their traditional religion. They participated in institutional building, enjoyed equal civil rights, and were treated like any other American. It is a fact that some of them even participated in the election process. This is in complete contrast with what they are experiencing in the new post 9/11 era. Most American Muslims who thought that they would be integrated into the American system are now held suspect. Most laws, priorites, and policies in the USA do not favor their lives in America. Immigration rules are being used as an anti-terrorism device. The main aim of these laws is to target Muslims while thousands of other immigrants are flouting the same rules. Racial profiling of the Muslims has continually increased under the disguise of fighting terrorism. Section 4-8 of the USA Patriot Act has been amended and targets people from Muslim countries. Federal officials conduct unreasonable searches of homes and premises, bar people from religious gatherings, and conduct interrogations based on racial profiling. All these things have been justified and aired by the mainstream media. This is often termed as a “tool” used to curb terrorism. The outcome is a total misconception of the identity of an American Muslim. The law should target every person, and not just Muslims. In addition to that, the media are responsible for the labeling of any act conducted by Muslims as an “act of terrorism.”
In Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream,” he dreams of a world where people are judged by their character. Recent adjustments in the laws regarding the Transport Security Administration (TSA) dictate that people should be judged by their looks. Muslim women adorning hijabs are profiled, and thoroughly searched. They are put through planned psychological tests, and their groins and chests are checked to see if they harbor any terrorist intentions. Body scans at the airport have not spared the privacy of a person. An individual’s nudity is exposed on the screens just because of the Islamic faith. The media has been in the forefront in assisting and supporting any device that instills fear and prejudice into Muslims. For instance, Mike Gallagher, a radio host, said that anyone with a Muslim name should be searched with extreme care. This instilled a lot of fear into the ordinary non-Muslims, who went on to have wrong perceptions on Muslims.
In the debate of whether Muslims have a right to erect a mosque at Ground Zero, three main issues have emerged. According to Volokh, New York Republican candidate, Carl Paladino feels that the government should use its power to obstruct the construction of the facility (Somin n.p.). However, this is an immoral and unjust violation of the constitutional rights to property, speech, and religious freedom. Most critics object the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. They argue that Islam is an illiberal religion that oppresses its followers. These arguments have been raised after extreme interpretation of some verses in the Koran. These critics should do the same when reading the Bible, or Torah where mass murder of Canaanites and slavery is advocated. It is vital to note that, building a Mosque at Ground Zero should be viewed from the positive side. If the mosque will promote the positive aspects of radical Islam and denounce terrorism, then the mosque may change the misconceptions that many people have about this religion. In addition to that, there are no justifiable reasons for the objection of this facility. People are free to criticize the words of the leader of this project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, but not the center. In the past, Rauf has openly denounced the terrorist attacks conducted on any part of the globe, 9/11, urged Muslims to respect women, and condemned extremist Muslim groups. Although Rauf has made various negative remarks about the American government, he may use the mosque to promote the welfare of the Americans, not just the Muslim-Americans (Somin n.p.).
In conclusion, the West should be position of addressing the problems in the Arabian Middle East and Americans instead of judging people based on their faith. Prejudice against Muslims in America is hurting the relations between various people, and it is an immoral violation of the American Constitution. People should know that any religion has believers who have moderate and extreme views, and Islam is not excluded. It is pertinent to note that not all Muslims are extremists because there are some who support the government, and denounce all the oppression practices of the religion.
In today’s world, everything is dynamic, and any resistance to the changes may be irrelevant. If the media focuses on instilling racial and religious misconceptions, it may find itself irrelevant in respect to the tenets of freedom, and the human rights that it seeks to promote. Demonizing people because of their faith is not a solution to terrorism.
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