Silence On Rising Anti-Muslim Sentiment Is Racist And Un-American

by Dalia F. Fahmy, HuffPost, October 26, 2015
political apparatus is a key culprit in this state of affairs, claiming
essentially that America should exclude Muslims from the definition of what it
means to be American.
protesters gather outside
a mosque May 29, 2015,
in Phoenix.
(Photo: Michael
Schennum, The Arizona Republic)
This past Thursday, in Brooklyn, NY,
a man was stabbed in the stomach in front of his wife and 5 year-old child.
“I’m going to stab you because you’re Arabic and deserve it,” his assailant
allegedly stated.
Fear of
Islam has become more prominent in everyday political discourse than ever
before. From last weekend’s nationwide Anti-Islam rallies, the
controversy surrounding several mosque zonings, attempts to pass anti-Shariah legislation in
20 states, the arrest of a boy with a clock, and the vitriol
coming out of the current Republican primary that questions whether Muslims in
office can be trusted–it is obvious that anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise.
According to
Gallup, 48% of Muslim
Americans say they have experienced racial or religious discrimination. We have
seen the horrific results of this hate in the execution style murders of three
young Muslims in North Carolina, the burning down of an Islamic school in
Houston, when two people in Michigan who were asked if
they were Muslim and they responded in the affirmative were stabbed repeatedly,
and the most recent stabbing in Brooklyn.

political apparatus is a key culprit in this state of affairs. Political
campaigns have included statements that the US is a Judaeo-Christian country,
indicating that Islam has no place here, that a Muslim president could not be trusted, that Muslims
should not be included in cabinet positions, and that all mosques should be closed. Essentially,
America should exclude Muslims from the definition of what it means to be
president Obama’s last State of The Union address, when he rightly
stated that the United States is a nation that will not tolerate anti-Semitism,
the entire Congressional body stood up and applauded in support. In his next
breath, when the President stated that America would stand against anti-Muslim
sentiment, the chamber fell silent. Yet, Muslim American heard this silence,
loud and clear. Muslims don’t belong, and our elected officials seem to agree.
This is
is defined as an unfounded, irrational fear or hostility towards Islam and
Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination,
and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social,
political, and civic life. This rhetoric aims to exclude Muslims from the
public sphere, essentially eliminating Muslims from the definition of what it
means to be American.
Yet, this
exclusion of Muslim is un-American and the un-American-ness of this exclusion
was emphasized in the founding of our nation.
President Obama was candidate Obama, and running for president, questions that
began to arise, Is Obama Muslim? This led to questions of can a Muslim be
president, yet this was not the first time in history that these questions were
On July 30,
1788, a Federalist delegate to the North Carolina convention to ratify the
United States constitution was among those who wanted to have a religious
litmus test in the Constitution that only a Protestant could be president. He
projected his fears for the future of the country, stating, “But let us
remember that we are forming a government for millions not yet in existence. I
have not that art of divination. In the course of four or five hundred years, I
do not know how it will work. This is most certain, that Papists may occupy
that chair, and Mahometans may take it. I see nothing against it.” The chair he
is speaking of is the seat of the Presidency of the United States. This
delegate was vocalizing his fears over a Muslim becoming President.
The debate in 1788 over the
ratification of the Constitution in North Carolina turned into a discussion on
the possibility of Muslims as American citizens when at the time, most
contemporary depictions represented Islam and Muslims as both theological and
political threats. And what emerged in the debate over the ratification of the
United States Constitution in North Carolina was an agreement that there would
be no religious litmus test, and it forced Federalists to defend the future
possibility of a Muslim president. And while at the heart of the founding of
the US there were questions of identity, equal citizenship of Muslims, these
were constitutionally deemed un-American questions.
The ideals
that this country was founded on are values that most Americans hold dear.
Thomas Jefferson envisioned a country that would be a safe place for people of
all religions, a neutral religious ground for Christians, Jews, Mohammedans,
Hindus, and Atheists. This was not meant to be exclusionary, but on the
contrary, was predicated on state neutrality in matters of private conscience.
according to a Pew study conducted last
September, 67% of Americans see Muslims in a negative light. This is because
those very American values have become increasingly undermined. Islamophobia
has led to the return of an exclusionary identity–where Muslims are the threat,
and the inclusion of Muslims would mean a redefinition of what it is to be American.
This irrationality is the heart of Islamophobia. As toxic and as strong as it
is, is not new and it is inherently against American values, as it always has
anti-Muslim sentiment continues to be an accepted part of our political
discourse, and Islamophobia continues to rise, we are undermining the core
values of our constitution and our founding principles. Continued silence and
acceptance of our political candidates engaging in such vitriol is both racist
and un-American.