This is affecting us. All of us. Now. Millions live in fear of the country that they have come to for sanctuary. And millions struggle to find the freedom and peace they have been searching for but are denied. America is a country in which all men are equal, but often times all men aren’t treated equally. Often times, including today, millions of people living in America are discriminated against, and most often times these are immigrants. But more specifically, Muslim immigrants. America’s president, Donald Trump, has created a policy more popularly known as the “Muslim Ban”. This policy prohibits citizens from seven countries that are primarily made up of Muslims, from entering the United States. Yemen. Sudan. Syria. Iraq. Iran. Somalia. Libya. No matter what is going on in those countries, no matter the persecution they face, the danger they face, we are telling them you cannot turn to us. We are saying that America the Great is prohibiting you from entering. “You are not allowed here”. “You are not welcome here”. And now we are kicking people out? Yes. President Trump also plans to deport all undocumented immigrants no matter if they have committed a crime or not. The ironic fact is that immigrants made this country, but now we are saying immigrants are not welcome. All this based off of events that Muslims had no control of. Events that were initiated by extremists.
I was six days old. A slight rocking movement was drifting me off to sleep. My mom sat criss-crossed with me in her lap, watching the television screen intently. It had to be a movie. One plane crashed. One tower collapsed. Trapping hundreds inside. It was in fact a beautiful day. The air was crisp yet warm. Flames and ash brewing a storm. Not a cloud in sight, disregarding the clouds of smoke. The second plane collided. The second tower caved unto itself. Watching this, one would feel bad for the actors in the movie, with all that debris. With all those sirens that are drowned out by screams. With all that heat from the fire in the sky. But it wasn’t a movie. It was September 11, 2001. Planes had crashed into the twin towers in New York City. Planes flown by terrorists. Muslim terrorists. A certain group known as al-Qaeda. If I had known what was going on I’d be afraid...because I am a Muslim. At that moment, America was afraid. Americans were afraid. But it wasn’t about us anymore. We weren’t Americans. We were divided. It was about you, Americans, and we were Muslims. You said you were afraid. That we didn’t belong. That we weren’t wanted. That we were guilty, traitors, terrorists. Are we? Are we the reason thousands of people have died, and more still are? No. The people hiding behind the name of muslims are. The people that claim they follow the Quran. The people who kill in the name of Islam. They are the reason. They are terrorists. We are Muslims. And we, we Muslims and you Americans, should be us. But that is not how it is. People fear the unknown. And the unknown is Islam. People hear the words Islam and terrorism and affiliate them with each other. What is unknown is assumed. And what is assumed is feared.
There are approximately 7 billion people in the world. There are approximately 1.6 billion muslims in the world. 23 percent of the world’s population is made up of a religion that may be foreign to you. The unfortunate truth is that the world around us is foreign. The people on the other side of the globe are foreign. Yet the people that we hold dearest to us may be foreign to us. How can this be possible? It’s simple really. We are uneducated. Ignorant. Lazy. Certain people do go out of their way to learn about their neighbors. But not everyone. Could you tell me about the religions of the people surrounding you? Could you tell me about your own faith? How much do you really know? We forget to learn, imagine and create. If humans took the time to learn about each other, interact with people that they could never imagine acquainting with, and open themselves up, we would be less scared. The more you know, the more educated you are, the more educated you are, the better you understand. And the better you understand, the less you are afraid.
Afraid. It’s such a simple term yet it holds so much power. But what is even more powerful is its fuel, and afraid is just a word without what powers it. Well, what are you afraid of? Go ahead and ask yourself. Now ask yourself what America is afraid of. Monarchy? Donald Trump? Terrorism? I can’t answer that but I can answer, that people are afraid of the unknown. It makes sense. We don’t know about what comes after death, that’s scary. But then again, that’s something we don’t have the power to know about. We however do have the power to know about terrorism. We have the resources and technology to educate ourselves, so there is no excuse for being afraid. If you are afraid of what is unknown, don’t continue living life in fear, define this truthfully and it won’t be unknown.
It is understandable to hear something and as a result fear that something. But it is not understandable to take that something as fact, not unless it is proven.
Fact: on September 11, 2001 the world trade center was attacked by extremists.
Fiction: those extremists were Muslims and followed the Quran.
Fact: Muslims are tormented, discriminated, and judged for that event.
Fiction: All Muslims are terrorists.
We must have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. True and false. Real and Imaginary. We must seek the truth. Nothing but the truth. We mustn't assume for if we do, we will fear. We will hide. We will create a ravine between truth and lie. A ravine between people and Muslims. And those Muslims will forever be classified as terrorists. They will be classified as something that is inhumane. That is heartless. And Muslims are not these people. Muslims are people. Simply people. Aren’t we all? Do not listen to the lies that fly around your head. Do not listen to the rumors buzzing by your ear. Do not be blinded by the false. Believe the fact not the fiction.
Muslims are not the only victims of discrimination, prosecuted for the way they look, for their belief. Native Americans were extruded out of their own homeland. Japanese-Americans were thrown into internment camps. The Jews were killed simply for their name. Countless beings have been shunned, pushed out of their homes, threatened, tortured, murdered. We don’t have to be these people. We are not these people. And we cannot make the same mistakes we have made as a nation in the past.
Pre 9/11 vs post 9/11, as the general public may think otherwise, was similar in many ways. In both, people were classified into categories. Categories that defined them. At one point we all, the Native Americans, the Japanese-Americans, the Jews, the Muslims, the Americans, were discriminated against. At every point in history, everywhere we are, we are all together yet we are alone. Separated. Divided. Categorized. The funny thing is we keep making the same mistake. Over and over again. And we all know it yet we seem oblivious to it. We choose to be oblivious to the fact that we are discriminating. Every time in history we go through this and say never again. Hypocrites, that’s what we are. We teach our kids about these tragic and cruel events in history, I wonder if this will end up in textbooks too. I wonder if we care.
I was once a victim of discrimination. Hurt by a child not more than two years older than me. I was in summer camp, no older than ten, and my beliefs were bluntly called stupid. We were at the lunch table and somehow the topic of discussion was religion. And so I stated my beliefs. I stated what I grew up believing and that I believed in Prophet Muhammad, a religious figure in Islamic history, someone who I have been learned as the messenger of God. One of the most important, renowned, respected, and glorified persons in the history of Islam, not just to me but to all Muslims. The answer I had received confused me yet caused me great pain; “Prophet Muhammad is stupid”. It hurt me that someone could be so careless as to say something to downgrade another person’s faith. He said this like it was as plain as day without any explanation. I was baffled but I was upset more than anything. I held it all inside me until I burst out in sobs complaining to my older brother. I felt as though I had been betrayed. Betrayed by someone I didn’t even know because weren’t we all supposed to be accepting of one another? Yes we were children, but if we don’t learn not to tear each other down at a young age, will we ever? Why he said this, I will never know, but I do know that he wasn’t taught to respect everyone’s beliefs, faith, and race at the time. There are hundreds of reasons to why he said what he did, he could have overheard his parents talking, or was simply ignorant to the fact that all religions matter, either way he said it. It may have been a small situation that one would say I was overreacting or that it was insignificant. But that is just the thing. No matter how small the situation is, it is always significant. Much more extreme cases of discrimination happen everyday in America. America is a place for people to escape discrimination, not experience it.
Millions of people come to America for many reasons: to escape persecution for their religion, to escape war, to start a family, to start over, to have a new beginning, to have a better life. People around the world see America as the country that is the land of the free and home of the brave. People around the world see America as the country that will grant them a life they are not able to attain anywhere else in the world. But when these people come to America, often these factors are not what they find, and that is not our fault. It is not America's fault. But it is America’s fault when they discriminate against these people. These people seeking a home, a better life, refuge. These people are our responsibility, and when they come to America looking to become an American, we must welcome them with open arms. We mustn't discriminate against them. We mustn’t deem them as immigrants and leave them as immigrants. Many times people who come to America are attempting to flee religious persecution, and what they get is just the opposite. These people are coming back to the reason they left their country, and this is not acceptable. It is not acceptable to discriminate against anyone regarding anything. This country is a melting pot. America is made up of immigrants, and immigrants made America great.
This country’s foundation came from immigrants. Immigrants brought life to America. Immigrants brought money to America. Immigrants brought joy to America. Immigrants created America, and they will continue to do so… If we let them. It was said that all men are equal, and that remains true yet we don’t treat all men equal. Why is one race, religion, or skintone considered superior to another. America is known as the land of the free and the home of the brave, but is it? We are contradicting our own selves. The Constitution was written by our ancestors. They swore by it. America swore by it. Now how could we go back on our word? How could we deny the people who have created this country?
It is ironic. It is ironic that we are locking the doors of the country. That we are building a wall to protect us from the dangers. That we are rejecting people who want to love this nation. It is ironic because they are the foundation of this country. They are the embodiment of who we are, or at least who we were. I don’t think we know who we are anymore. We are changing our country’s values, our country’s ethics, and we are now telling much of the world that they are not wanted. That they are not allowed. That immigrants are not allowed. Step back and take a look at what we are doing. Our President was planning on cutting us off from seven countries because of a belief that the majority of Muslims are extremists. This order has been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge and as a result the POTUS has already come up with a new executive order which is almost identically the same to the previous order with the exception that one country was removed from the ban. We musn’t be afraid of what’s to come, and we cannot fear we cannot fathom. We have no other choice than to sit back and wait. We know the truth, so again, step back and take a look around you. We should all be equal. We all deserve rights. We are all human.