Muslim Community Fears Consequences Of Rising Islamophobia

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Chapel Hill Shootings: Muslim Community Fears Consequences Of Rising Islamophobia

While authorities in North Carolina work to determine the motive behind the shooting deaths of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, the attack has confirmed some Muslims’ greatest fears amid what they say is a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. The current climate has contributed to the sense that Muslims in America will have to deal with the consequences of broader international issues beyond the scope of their own communities.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Authorities indicated Wednesday that Hicks’ targeting of the students may have been motivated by a parking dispute, the Associated Press reported. However, many remain unconvinced that Hicks, a self-identified “anti-theist” with a history of posting anti-religion commentary on social-media sites, was not motivated by bias.

The incident came amid a spike in anti-Muslim animosity throughout the U.S., which some have linked to the aftermath of the attacks by Islamist extremists on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris last month, as well as recent high-profile atrocities committed by Islamic State group militants. Major U.S. cities such as New York have reported significant increases in hate crimes against Muslims: There was a triple-digit surge across the city in 2014, according to the New York Police Department.

“We’ve been afraid that something like this would happen,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil-rights group. He said that while it was important to not jump to conclusions about the shooter’s motivations, “We’ve just seen it go off the charts since Charlie Hebdo. Islamophobia has just gone mainstream.”

Hooper’s organization, the largest Muslim advocacy group in the U.S., called on police to address speculation Wednesday that the victims were targeted for their religion. “Based on the brutal nature of this crime, the past anti-religion statements of the alleged perpetrator, the religious attire of two of the victims, and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric in American society, we urge state and federal law-enforcement authorities to quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in this case,” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

U.S. Muslim communities are increasingly on edge over backlash against their members every time a high-profile incident of violence happens abroad, said Jibril Hough, a representative of the Islamic Center of Charlotte, North Carolina. “We’re always on the front lines when it comes to international affairs, whether it’s something to do with ISIS or otherwise,” he said. “People look at us and they’re always trying to draw connections with what’s happening and average, everyday Muslims.”

Molly White, a Texas state representative, recently made headlines after she called on Muslim activists visiting the state’s capital to publicly swear allegiance to the U.S. and renounce Islamic terrorist groups. White’s call has been criticized by activists who worry about the increasing acceptability of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the public sphere. Anti-Muslim activists and politicians have in recent weeks unleashed a tirade of public bigotry against Muslim communities, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among the most prominent of these voices is that of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who claimed certain areas of Europe have become “no-go zones” where non-Muslims were not allowed.

This kind of rhetoric has also been accompanied with a wave of legislation that has targeted Shariah, or Islamic law, which many Muslim activists have argued is simply a pretext to single out and marginalize their communities for political gain. North Carolina, with an estimated 26,000 Muslims, or less than 0.3 percent of the state’s population, introduced such a bill in 2013. Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law despite protests by activists.

“The community is trying their best to get organized and think about next steps, but everyone is just so distraught over this loss that they don’t know what to do or say,” said Imran Aukhil, a lifelong North Carolina resident and a friend of the victims. Aukhil emphasized his reluctance to politicize the tragedy and the victim’s identities, but conceded that “if them being Muslims becomes the story, then I hope it brings to light the fact that Muslims are as much the victims of senseless crimes as they are portrayed to be the perpetrators.”
 
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This war on terror is likely to addle the minds of people who don't really understand what the fight is all about. Just because most of the terrorists happen to be Muslims, they're immediately going to draw the conclusion that all Muslims are terrorists. That is why, for the sake of reducing this contagious bigotry, it would be better if the government initiates projects that will promote Islam peace education. People need to understand that the war on terror is for terrorists alone (who coincidentally share the same religion) - not for all Muslims.
 
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Personally, I think Islamophobia is widespread in America mainly because of how media always say how violent and barbaric they are, and doesn't even counter that with some good points about Muslim people.
 
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Islamophobia is indeed rising, not only in the US. This leads to my Muslim friends suddenly getting on edge because they might be the target of misplaced hate. In the heat of their rage and fear, people forget that there are evils in any religion. The sad thing is that media is portraying Muslims as monsters. Sad.
 
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Islamophobia is rising, but it is because of the extremist that have brought about this rise. I know some of the countries are very moderate and do not cause any problems. However, some of the extremist have brought about the Islamophobia, which so far seems justified because of the extremist that are not representing the religion. Just the negatives are being reported, though, which does not help either. Kind of like the Catholic church with the priest sex abuse scandal. Nothing positive was reported about the work the church does, but only the negatives about the priest.
 
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@Charity : how can you say something like this "seems justified" if it is the very picture of unjustified? I mean, Americans are always acting grumpy when Europeans act like they would be dumb or like their country is just an horrible place who starts a lot of war, and they always act like "You guys cannot judge us just from the many many reports you've seen about us!"

And yet they just reproduce this kind of irrational hatred based on misunderstanding and fear.

Not what can be called "justified".

And the Catholic church does get good publicity. Especially since they have a new Pope.

@dyanmarie25 : well when they do mention good points about Muslim people, the communities don't seem to care much (those news don't really interest anybody and we say stuff like "Well they're not the only one to do that they're not so special") or they just act like the fact that they're Muslims have nothing to do with the good things they do (which is the opposite of their reaction if it's something bad they do: then, the fact that they are Muslims has EVERYTHING to do with the bad deed).

Which, by the way:

He said that while it was important to not jump to conclusions about the shooter’s motivations, “We’ve just seen it go off the charts since Charlie Hebdo. Islamophobia has just gone mainstream.”

Read more: Muslim Community Fears Consequences Of Rising Islamophobia | World Defense
if it was a Muslim shooter, they would probably have no problem jumping to conclusions about the shooter's motivations. Just sayin'.

If you don't see enough good things about Muslims passed around and you just have the impression that there is nothing good about them, maybe you should go and meet some. Unless you start the conversation with "I hate all of you guys I want to bomb your countries!", you should be surprised by how nice they can be. Well. Not all of them, sure, because they're still just humans and not playful little kittens. But still.
 
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I can see why seeing as the majority of Americans don’t even understand the culture in the first place so when you see all these different things on the news you can make it even more complex for the simpleminded.
 
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It is funny actually, think of the non-Muslim people living in Muslim populated countries. I have never heard of a case where someone was attacked or targeted because they don't share the belief. Not even issues of hate crime towards non-Muslims. People have ignorantly latched the word "terrorist" to Muslim or Islam. It makes you wonder which of us are the real savages.
 
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Recently 3 Muslims were shot dead in North Carolina. Well, I initially thought that it's because of the stigma that they carry, that well, for nothing, they are simply Muslims. But when I read the article, they could have been killed because the killer was an atheist and as such he hates all kinds of religion. I think if there's that Islamophobia under way, it's only a thing for those who hold dear to their religion. But does religion tolerate prejudice and discrimination. Come on, if you people are pious of their religion and of their faith, they must be at least sincere to become a true manifestation of their religion. And as far as I know Catholics are to be "Man for others." Regardless of what you believe in, they will embrace you.
 
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People have ignorantly latched the word "terrorist" to Muslim or Islam. It makes you wonder which of us are the real savages.
Well said. We all need to differentiate the extremists from the ordinary Muslims, I can't imagine how frustrating it is for a Muslim to have to go on TV to condemn every heinous act committed by a person who twisted the Koran for their own ends.
If they were all as terrible as a few people seem to think, there would be no peace anywhere on this Earth.
 
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I live in a country with lot a of Muslims. While I have absolutely nothing against them I have to admit that a lot of them have become more radical than ever, but also take in mind that Bosnia is one of the biggest training ground for terrorists in Europe. Even moderate Muslims have started to express their fear of the ongoing radicalization and have warned that this may have dire consequences. Just a couple of days ago police had to intervene after radical Muslim population of one our villages decided to paint the houses in IS symbols and place IS flags everywhere. A couple of days after that a guy was arrested by the police for wearing IS symbols in the middle of one our biggest cities Sarajevo.
 
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Being tolerable of other religions doesn't seem to be something that American citizens are ready to fully embrace when it comes to the idea of being Muslim. It’s been through the mud for so many years probably the early 70s whether it be black Muslims or this new hate movement against Middle Eastern Muslims.
 
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This man did not get along with people around him even his own wife and suspected everyone of, trying to get rid of him and had a problem with noise or loudness and threatened people well now he is where he belongs prison as he has shown he is not worthy to live in society. He had mixed beliefs and did this over parking and used to show his gun to people he threatened, now he will rot for the rest of his life or be hanged if he did this in the muslim country would have been tortrured to death. Racism still occurs, and some are thinking all are the same and taking anger out and in the process ruining their own lives or fighting a battle with the wrong people.
 
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I don't think hate against Muslims is widespread. We havent seen a big uptick in violence against Muslims here. People certainly view the religion with suspicion and theres a reason for that in my opinion. I think suspicion is a much different thing than hate.
 
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Being tolerable of other religions doesn't seem to be something that American citizens are ready to fully embrace when it comes to the idea of being Muslim. It’s been through the mud for so many years probably the early 70s whether it be black Muslims or this new hate movement against Middle Eastern Muslims.
You're absolutely right. Americans are unwilling to be tolerant of most things. They're taught that if someone is a good Christian you can't trust them and count on them. If they are anything other than Christian they don't know the difference between right and wrong. Only the bible can teach people the difference. So, basically, according to what people around here have been hearing from birth, if Muslims aren't Christains they must be evil.
 

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