The inhumane attacks on Paris, Beirut, and San Bernardino have further altered the way people approach the already targeted Muslim suffering from Islamophobia. Since then, according to The New York Times, hate crimes in the U.S. have tripled against Muslims at several mosques and businesses.
On Dec. 15, Wheaton College political science professor, Larycia Hawkins, was suspended and placed on administrative leave for paradoxical theological statements posted on her personal Facebook. Although the comments conflicted with her Christian beliefs, Hawkins was, at most, venting the frustration about the growing anti-Islam standpoints. In respect to her Muslim neighbors, Hawkins posted “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.”
Subsequent incidents have occurred throughout the nation in places like Virginia and New Jersey, where teachers have become victims of discrimination at their respective schools. As stated in ThinkProgress, when high school teacher Cheryl Laporte introduced her World Geography students to an Islamic phrase to demonstrate the complexities of calligraphy as an art form, parents organized a protest and called it “indoctrination” on the students. This incident prompted an unfortunate backlash, causing the school district to close schools the following day. In New Jersey, at the suggestion of a fellow colleague, high school teacher Sireen Hashem showed a clip of Nobel Peace Price winner, Malala Yousafzai to her students, which ensued her discharge.
To accentuate the difference between religion and politics, the Muslim communities in the United States are speaking out, letting the world know that they too are amongst the mourners and are targeted by extremists.
However, for society, forming a distinctive opinion on a topic so widely discussed in the media has proven difficult with demagogues and misinformed people dominating the news we see, read, and hear. Republican candidates, such as Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, have fixated on barring the United States from Syrian refugees, not because of their religion, but as Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley stated, “Our enduring symbol is not a barbed wire fence. It is the Statue of Liberty.”
On Dec. 9, boxing legend Muhammad Ali released a statement hailing his faith. “I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”
Religion is a person’s subconscious refuge to lament, to be joyous, to be at peace with oneself and with others. Religion is a person’s sacred tool for understanding faults, strengths, and weaknesses.
College student Catherine Almeciga finds that her morals, including her actions of kindness and respect for the people around her stand as contributing factors of her religion. I for one, stand in religious solidarity with those who have been discriminated and oppressed because of their beliefs.