Zoya Alam '19 Contributing Writer With the number of candidates vying for the chance to represent their parties in the 2016 presidential election, it’s a given that there will be controversy. However, some of the comments have gone past insinuations about other candidates’ capabilities and promises that cannot be kept. Some of the statements have been inexcusably appalling.
The extremely Islamophobic comments made by people who wish to lead America have left the Muslim American community in shock. For many Muslims who have made America their home, the thought of having a leader who regards them with suspicion is frightening.
Two Republican candidates, Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump, are particularly guilty of this type of hatemongering. Carson recently said that he believes a Muslim would make an unfit president for our nation, claiming that the Muslim code of belief is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.
Trump failed to take issue with a supporter who asked him, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. When can we get rid of them?” By not calling out that supporter on his prejudice, Trump sent a clear message that he agrees with the belief that Muslims can never be truly American.
From a Muslim American’s perspective, these comments are not only hurtful, but also dangerous. The constant emphasis on the idea that Muslims are “out to get us” targets the wrong people. Islamophobia attempts to define 1.6 billion people in the world by a few extremist groups. This irrational fear of Muslims does a great deal of damage.
This fear is evident in the recent event that occurred in Irving, Texas, where a boy named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school where it was mistaken for a bomb. A 14-year-old Muslim kid should be able to be innovative and curious without being targeted and questioned. A young Muslim should feel like they can do anything, including being the President of the United States. Most importantly, Muslim Americans should be celebrated and accepted in our country the same way other Americans are.
So, if you’re reading this, I ask that you become part of a movement to combat Islamophobia. I ask that you educate yourself about Islam beyond the news headlines. I ask that you see the good in people, no matter their race or religion.
As a final note, I have something to say regarding the recent offensive political statements. To Carson: My religion is completely compatible with the U.S. Constitution; the values of equality, justice and liberty are extremely prevalent in Islam. To Trump: The problem in this country isn’t Muslims. It’s institutional racism, and it needs to end now.