Living in North America as a Muslim isn’t fun and games right now. In both the U.S. and Canada, Muslims face real scrutiny, fanned by politicians out to earn xenophobic votes and media folk out to sell copies. And that doesn’t even speak to the well-financed hate groups whose livelihoods depend on maligning Muslims and their faith. Muslims today must face the sort of onslaught that hasn’t been directed against a religious minority in North America for decades. And that’s something that should worry us all.
At the heart of the religious discrimination against Muslims lies a lack of basic education on not only Muslims and Islam, but also on history, society and politics more generally. Yes, there’s work to be done within the Muslim communities of both the U.S. and Canada, specifically in encouraging their greater participation in civil society and in community outreach. That will help. But broader North American society, on both sides of the border, needs to get to grips with five key misconceptions if it wants to contribute to a clean, prejudice-free society which we want our kids to grow up in:
1. Those Muslims, they are something outside of us, they’re not part of us.
Muslims have lived in the U.S. and Canada since before either country achieved national independence. The first Muslim presence in what is now the U.S. dates to 1528, and in what is now Canada, in 1854. Muslims are not only the third largest religious community in the U.S. and the second largest in Canada, but their contribution to their respective countries has been integral to the development of the national consciousness through the likes of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Millions of America’s and Canada’s Muslims don’t see home in Asia or Africa but in the streets of New York, Toronto and small towns across North America.
2. Muslims are more violent than are other communities.
Categories: Americas, Answers to Anti-Islam, Anti-Islam Attitude, Religion
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