This election year in the U.S. feels strange. The people, their speeches, campaign trails and shows covering those hardly make sense any more. More details are unnecessary as we are dealing with these in mainstream TV every single day.
But perhaps the worst manifestation of the divisive campaign is the rising growth of anti-Muslim sentiment, or Islamophobia. As the general election is approaching, even more undesirable events involving hostile people are taking place all over the U.S.
Islamophobia is, sadly, not a new phenomenon. It is a kind of xenophobic behavior that rose during the late 20th century, and has often clouded the judgment of the mass in the countries where people with Islamic faith is a minority. Post 9/11, Islamophobia in the Western world has increased sharply.
It has been one year since Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year old kid who made a clock, was arrested for a bomb hoax. This September, it has been reported that hate crimes against American Muslims have risen to their highest levels since the 9/11 attack. Researchers at California State University, San Bernardino have found that hate crimes against American Muslims are up 78% over the course of 2015. Hate crimes against people who are perceived as Arabs have increased by an unbelievable 219%.
The Sikhs are also not spared from hate crimes, as their beard, turban and clothing are often perceived as Muslim attire. Last year a survey by the National Sikh Campaign points out that 60% of Americans don’t know anything about the Sikh community. Many Sikhs admit that since 9/11, they have faced Islamophobic behavior and racial profiling.
An article of Bridge provides us elaborate hate-crime statistics for 2015, as well as for the presidential election season of March 2015 to March 2016: http://bridge.georgetown.edu/when-islamophobia-turns-violent-the-2016-u-s-presidential-elections/
With utmost concern, DissDash tries to note down some of the recent major events that surfaced this September, originating from or resulting to Islamophobia.
September 8, 2016: Two Muslim women with their babies were attacked
A woman attacked two Muslim women as they were walking on a Brooklyn sidewalk while pushing their kids in strollers. The woman tried to rip the hijab off from a woman’s head, screamed obscenities and told her to leave the U.S.
September 10, 2016: Unsuspecting woman’s sleeve set on fire
A woman in traditional Muslim garb was walking down the street of New York when her arm felt hot. She then noticed that her sleeve was on fire. NYPD has stated that they are not sure if it is a hate crime, as other women without any identifiable Muslim attire are being attacked too. Nevertheless, the Hate Crimes Unit will continue to investigate the case.
September 11, 2016: Throwing a rock inside a mosque
A stone was pelted through the window of a mosque at Nashua, New Hampshire.
September 12, 2016: Mosque Set on Fire
The surveillance footage showed someone set the building of Islamic Center of Fort Pierce in Florida on fire at 12:30 am. Incidentally, Omar Mateen – the Pulse Nightclub shooter – used to attend the mosque. It happened on the same day of Eid-ul-Adha or the Greater Eid.
September 14, 2016: Clothes dryer nightmare for a Marine
Although this happened some time ago, the news only came out now. A Muslim Marine was ordered to step inside a dryer at the Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, by a drill instructor who asked him if he was a “terrorist” and “part of 9/11”. The Marine suffered burns after the drill instructor turned the dryer on many times. This story especially stands out as the Marine claimed that he was told by the drill instructor that the Marine Corps pays him “to weed out spies”.
The other side of darkness – September 17, 18 and 19, 2016: Bombing in New York metropolitan area
There have been three bombing and explosion attempts in New Jersey and New York. On September 19, the FBI identified and later arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is allegedly responsible for all of these occurrences. These alarming events are certainly not helping, but adding fuel to Islamophobia.
Unfortunately, the xenophobic presidential campaign as well as Islamic terrorist groups are banking on this very fear, and only pushing people away from each other. The simplest truth is that Islam and Terrorism are not synonymous. Blaming a whole community collectively for the wrongdoing of some extremist groups is ridiculous and will not resolve anything. The more prominent awareness against this dangerous generalization can be raised, the better.
When she is not sweating to write drafts for her PhD in film, nomad-ing around, shooting films, or lost in a book, Kamalika works as a creative writer. She is associated with multiple websites as a contributor.
Kamalika on LinkedIn: <https://www.linkedin.com/in/