Muslims Of America: Chapter One

Source: Huffington Post

BY Omar Alnatour, ContributorPalestinian-American Muslim. Medical Student. Humanitarian.

When I was a toddler, I was terrified of getting my vaccinations. No, terrified is an understatement. My fear was so severe that I’d bolt to the bathroom as soon as the nurse mentioned that it was time for my booster. Each vaccine visit had the same climax: an intense negotiation situation between a frustrated pediatrician and a screaming child on the other side of a locked bathroom door. My mother claims that I had the speed of a racehorse yet the stubbornness of a mule. Eventually, the clinic staff decided it would be wiser to remove the lock on that bathroom door. I ended up getting my shots at the conclusion of each visit, but it took two nurses to hold me down as the third carefully maneuvered the syringe needle past my desperate swinging legs. It’s ironic really, I had a deep-seated fear against the very thing that existed simply for my benefit.

Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of my fear because I now realize that vaccines are not only harmless but also an absolute necessity to humanity because they protect us from infections that would otherwise prove fatal. Knowing this, I no longer have a fear of vaccines and I actually am immeasurably grateful for their existence.

There are millions of Muslims living in the United States and I can guarantee you that every single one has either directly faced some sort of hateful discrimination or personally knows of a Muslim that has. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every three days. Recent polls show that more than half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam.

Sadly, Muslims are today’s vaccines. Islamophobia is that toddler.


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