Beyond Discord, Suspicion, and Hate
By Zafar Siddiqui, Engage Minnesota
For the past few election seasons, hateful rhetoric has reached alarming proportions. This shouldn’t just worry those who are targeted: This should concern every American. The oldest democracy in the world is witnessing a field of presidential hopefuls some of whom seem to be more interested in shredding the constitution than in upholding it.
Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio have taken political discourse to new lows by brutally targeting the American Muslim community and other minorities in their quest to win the race to the White House.
The seven-million-strong American Muslim community is a dynamic, vibrant, multi-ethnic community, and it enriches our country in many different ways. It’s also a community that is asked to suffer for the actions of people outside of our borders. Research indicates that anti-Muslim sentiment is not a direct result of terrorist incidents around the world, but rather of the hateful rhetoric and discourse that is promoted by opportunistic politicians and Islamophobes after these incidents.
I would like my fellow citizens to forever settle this demand made of American Muslims to condemn terrorism that happens elsewhere in the world. The basic assumption here is offensive in spirit. No other community is asked to condemn terrorist incidents that are committed by people who share their religion. The assumption that silence is akin to condoning these heinous acts is totally unfair. This is a premise that is not extended to any other community.
A thorough analysis of violence and terrorist incidents within our own borders does not point to American Muslims at all. Rather, it points to White supremacists who have committed the most terrorist acts. Let’s get a grip on this hate-mongering that is hurting our country. In the quest to gain votes, candidates like Trump, Carson, and Rubio are striking at the pillars of our constitutional law by suggesting extra-constitutional registries and the closing of houses of worship. Let’s safeguard our Constitution. Let’s strengthen our democratic ideals. Let’s accord the same yardstick of rights and responsibilities to all Americans.
Enough hate and fear-mongering. We need to reclaim our country from these elements that sow discord, suspicion, and hate among Americans. We have serious challenges to address within our own borders – racism, poverty, hunger, homelessness, police shootings, mass shootings, deteriorating education standards, and rampant indifference. That should be where we focus our attention rather than finding scapegoats and obfuscating the real issues in the process..
Zafar Siddiqui is an interfaith leader and a co-founder of the Islamic Resource Group and lives in Blaine.He can be reached at email@example.com
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