Islamophobia: Signs, Implications and Choices

Islamophobia:   Signs, Implications and Choices

by Dr Ferhan Asghar 

“It is quite an eye-opening experience to read letters to the editor in response to any article or news stories about Islam and Muslims lately.  Whether in a left or right-leaning outlet, and whether an article paints Muslims in a positive or negative light, the pieces almost universally demonize an entire group of human beings as less than such.  "Look at their history." one person wrote.  "They have always been killing and fighting since the days of Muhammad!" Factually ignoring hundred of years Muslim have lived together peacefully with almost every faith.  Our ability to isolate a group as "THEY" allows tribal instincts to justify behavior ranging from simple isolationism to exclusion and discrimination to downright violence against what is labeled "other." Human history is peppered with dangerous precedents.   It is important for us to recognize destructive patterns of thought and call people out for verbalizing them. This includes:

1. "THEY are violent against Christians in Muslim countries, so they've got it coming when THEY live in a Christian country."

2. "I don't know any Muslims and I don't want to get to know THEM."

3. "Leftists are attempting to dilute OUR Judeo-Christian heritage by allowing acceptance of Muslims who inherently hate US."

4. "If we allow Muslims into the country, THEY'LL implement Sharia law here."

5. "We need to carpet bomb THEM."  This asinine statement from none other than a presidential candidate is nothing less than shocking and down right frightening as a human race because of the way it resonated with millions of supporters!

The list could go on. As a social exercise, readers are encouraged to think of examples they have seen in action and to note instances they come across in the future. We have unfortunately reached a point where not only are hate crimes being committed against Muslims, but those who speak out against it are being reprimanded. 

What choices do we make; ignore the hate, join the hate or take constructive action to minimize the hate? Each one has serious implications for not only whom the hate is directed towards but all of our children and our collective future.

Dr Ferhan Asghar an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Cincinnati and a speaker for the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.