The case of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old engineering enthusiast who built a clock from circuits and a pencil case to impress his teacher, seems to be a clear cut case of what happens when Islamophobia goes too far. It was also heartwarming to see how quickly other Americans rallied to his cause. If only all such cases were so simply rectified.
In recent years there have been a number of violent attacks on Muslims in America. In November 2014, shots were fired at a mosque in California. In February three students killed in a rampage shooting at the University of North Carolina are believed to have been targeted because they were Muslim. In March, a Muslim man in Texas, who had fled from ISIL in Iraq, was shot dead in a hate crime. In May, a woman held a Muslim couple at gunpoint (it was a pellet gun) because they looked “suspicious.”
Just this month a cab driver in Chicago was beaten by a teenager who called him “terrorist” and told him to go back to his country. Not that it matters, but Inderjit Singh Mukker, the victim, is not Muslim but Sikh.
Yet, Muslims don’t just face discrimination from ignorant and violent neighbors. In 2014, it was discovered that thousands of American Muslims were on the “No Fly List,” for no known reason. A federal court ruled that the list wasn’t Constitutional because people placed on the list had no way to contest it. In fact it wasn’t until last spring that the U.S. even agreed to comply with the court and tell people on the list why they’re on it.
The threat of Islamic terrorism is very real and dangerous. Yet, when Americans, citizens or the government, lash out at Muslims as a demographic because of that threat, we are doing Osama Bin Laden’s work for him.
It’s plainly clear that Bin Laden’s desire to the U.S. engaged in armed conflict with his followers and other Islamic extremists was fulfilled in the aftermath of 9/11. In a 2004 essay in The American Conservative, Paul Schroder wrote that “by conceiving of the struggle against international terrorism as a war, loudly proclaiming it as such, and waging it as one, we have given our enemies the war they wanted and aimed to provoke but could not get unless the United States gave it to them.”
However, Bin Laden’s dream was not just for Al Qaeda to fight the U.S., but for “Islam” to go to war with the U.S., Israel, and itself (meaning Sunni versus Shia and Sufi). So while the Islamic State takes care of the latter goal, it seems that hate-filled Americans are working on the other one.
In attacking American Muslims, harassing them, and going out of one’s way to be insulting, Americans are sending the message that Donald Trump’s most famous supporter sent Thursday night: They want Muslims gone. They aren’t “American” and this country just ain’t big enough for all of us.
It’s a message Osama Bin Laden would have readily agreed with.
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