A Call to Action: Curing Islam’s American Crisis

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally At Valdosta State University In Georgia

VALDOSTA, GA – FEBRUARY 29: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at Valdosta State University February 29, 2016 in Valdosta, Georgia. On the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries, Trump is enjoying his best national polling numbers of the election cycle, increasing his lead over rivals Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Source: Huffington Post

By EHAB AL SHIHABI

Media Advisor and Senior Fellow (politics, media and policy) The opinion expressed here are his and do not reflect those of his employer

The ascendency of Donald Trump in this U.S. presidential election year is a wake-up call for every Muslim in America to get more actively involved in politics and civil society.

The notion that Trump can be the Republican nominee in November’s election becomes more real with every primary. The brusque New Yorker says he would consider demanding Muslim-Americans register with a government database, or even forcing us to carry special identification cards. He’s not the only candidate seeking attention by Muslim bashing — Ben Carson says he believes a Muslim should never be allowed to occupy the White House. All this racist and unconstitutional rhetoric is covered by some cable news channels as if it were entertainment.

Naturally, American Muslims are concerned. A recent poll from The Council on American-Islamic Relations revealed that 30 percent of Muslims in America rank growing Islamophobia as the No. 1 issue in the upcoming election.

It’s little wonder that Trump is targeting Muslims. The rising fear and distrust of Muslims among average Americans that Trump feeds into has been exacerbated by groups such as ISIS — terrorists that abuse the word Islam by including it in their name, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Terrorists appropriating Islam is a common trope. One dozen groups using some variation of Islam in their name are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

The nightly recitation of the name Islamic State on news coverage is bound to beat the connection between Islam and terrorism into the heads of millions of people. However, ISIS is neither a State, nor is it Islamic. Instead, groups like ISIS shield themselves behind the word Islam to obscure their real agenda — the corruption of power. Muslims in America condemn violence in the name of Islam and fear for their lives just as any other non-Muslim.

For America’s 3.3 million Muslims, about 1 percent of the population, this was a difficult time even before Trump began his verbal assaults. Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States jumped after 9/11 and have remained high. In 2014, FBI data shows that 16.1 percent of hate crimes were against Muslims–184 attacks. According to Pew Research, 59 percent of people believe American Muslims face a lot of discrimination–more than any other religious group.

Thankfully, it’s not all been negative lately. Republican John Kasich has dismissed anti-Muslim rhetoric as un-American. Democrat Bernie Sanders tweeted, “I have a message for Donald Trump: No, we’re not going to hate Latinos or Muslims.”

We should work to stamp out discrimination against all, whether it is based on distrust against Muslims, Jews or any other religious group, or against other ethnicities, such as Latinos.

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