Mainstream media is rich with Muslim stereotypes. Now is a good time to recognize all the unbelievable underdogs of media recognition who happen to own a Qur’an.
People who practice Islam are often identified as stereotypes, not humans with complex identities. We believe all Muslims are violent terrorists, unsuccessful, impoverished, Middle Eastern, and suppressed.
Most Muslims do not live these stereotypes.
Terrorists are but a minority, modesty and conservatism is a choice, poverty does not affect all, and most Muslims do not live in the Middle East. They live in Asia, specifically Indonesia.
Islamophobia is built upon a lack of knowledge, and a predisposition towards hate. 48 percent of Muslims experienced racial or religious discrimination, according to a poll conducted by Gallop in 2010. That’s more than the discrimination faced by Hispanics and African Americans.
52 percent of Arab Americans experienced discrimination in 2010. Nearly half of all Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, and Mormon respondents combined, agreed with the idea of most Americans harvesting a prejudice towards Muslim Americans.
Taking present and past Islamist terrorist attacks into consideration, it is easy to judge Islam and Muslims according to terrorist actions. The Boston Marathon bombing accounted for 20 percent of media coverage from 2013 to 2015, while terrorist attacks committed by white people accounted for, at the most, seven percent of media coverage.
If we want to break the cycle of stereotyping, discrimination, and unfair treatment of Muslims in the U.S., we need to start highlighting the good, not the bad. There are many more Muslims that have made the world a better place than have tried to destroy it.
Azizah al-Hibri is one of those people. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. Her organization aims to educate Muslim women in jurisprudence, and inform females everywhere of rights belonging to Muslim women.
In 2011, former President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Many of the skyscrapers in cities around the U.S. were designed using a structural method invented by Muslim architect Fazlur Rahman Khan. Khan’s “bundled tube” system deserves the credit for creating the Hancock Building and the Willis Tower in Chicago, as well as countless other buildings in America.
A Muslim doctor, by the name of Ayub Ommaya, made significant advancements in the medical field. The neurosurgeon invented the “Ommaya Reservoir,” a medical tool that is planted into the brain through which chemotherapy drugs can travel, attacking brain tumors and cancer cells head-on.
Outstanding imams, scholars, authors, artists, politicians, and ordinary Muslims every day portray a very different religion than the stereotypes commonly shown in media. If we want to live in a world free of Islamophobia, recognizing Muslims who defy stereotypes is an important first step.
For the Muslim women, men, and children who are battling the stereotypes and advancing substantially in a world that seems to work against them, we see you.
You deserve the recognition that has been held back for far too long.