Let’s Talk About Islamophobia (Part 1)

Let’s talk about the Chapel Hill Shooting. Three college students of muslim faith were shot to death in their homes in Chapel Hill, North Carolina near the University of North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, who has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, claimed it was a dispute over a parking space, however, many have challenged the claim and called it a hate crime. The names of the victims are Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

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Deah Barakat

Deah Barakat was a 23-year-old dental student from Chapel Hill who wanted to use his education to help the less fortunate.

Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha

Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha was a 21-year-old North Carolina State University graduate with a biological sciences degree who planned to enter UNC in the fall. She and Barakat were married in December.

Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha

Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh, was a first year architecture and environmental design at North Carolina State University and the sister of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha.

These people were going to do great things, they were good people, dedicated their lives to charity and helping others. They did not deserve to die.

What was shocking was the lack of media coverage surrounding this execution style murder. The media was quick to respond to the Charlie Hebdo incident, quick to call the provoked individuals terrorists, and further perpetuate the stigma that all muslims are terrorist. To be completely honest, I can’t say I’m surprised at the lack of coverage of this incident and not call the perpetrator by anything other than his name when any muslim extremist has the label ‘terrorist’ slapped across his face. What I am though, is disgusted. It’s outrageous for big news sites to have little to no coverage on a tragedy such as this. What this does it belittle the lives of those who are already oppressed and implies that actions such as these are deemed acceptable in society in the eyes of the media.

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Russell Brand mentioned an extremely good point in his video about the Copenhagen vs Chapell Hill. “Brand points out that the media treats the Copenhagen terrorist as a representative of Muslim culture at large, whereas the alleged Chapel Hill murderer, Craig Stephen Hicks, is labeled a “disturbed individual.”” I think it’s important to acknowledge here that a fundamental element of terrorism is that the attacks on individuals are indiscriminate and these individuals are attacked, not because of what they’ve done, but because of who they are. That is exactly what Hicks did that day and he hasn’t been called out on it.

In my opinion, the release of American Sniper played a significant role in the increase of Islamophobia. We currently live in a society where one of the top movies glorifies the killing of Arabs and Muslims, calling these people ‘scum’. This is a white washed society that refuses to acknowledge the struggles of the oppressed, refuses to realise that Arabs and Muslims have a right to their faith and that a select few do not represent the masses in that religion, and refuses to admit to a hate crime against the oppressed when it has been committed but is quick to slap that label on when the roles are reversed. Amer Zahr, a writer and adjunct law professor at the University of Detroit also wrote about American Sniper on his blog, “The Civil Arab.”

“People have exited that movie writing terrible hate-filled things about us. A whole generation of young Americans is brought up playing video games where the main objective is killing ‘enemies’ who look like us. It is this atmosphere of xenophobia and Islamophobia that we live with every day. We are victims of media brutality.”

This is dangerous. Why? For those who haven’t seen it, Kyle Simpson wrote an article on the effects of American Sniper on the escalation of Islamophobia:

The movie paints the faceless Iraqis as “savages,” a word that comes from the mouth of Kyle – both the real-life man and the one portrayed by Bradley Cooper. He isn’t referring to only the militants as savages, but the Iraqi people as a whole. Brutal mistreatment of innocent families occurs in multiple scenes in the movie. Never in the film are we made aware of the very real struggles the Iraqis are having while their country is being invaded. “American Sniper” consistently dehumanizes the people who were most affected by the Iraq War – the innocent Iraqis.

Why are we using the extreme actions of the few individuals as total representatives of a religion? Why is it that we live in a society where we expect muslims to apologise – and some to pay with their lives – for the actions of certain extremists that in no way reflect their religion, when we don’t expect the same from Christians when the KKK commit a barbaric act?

The Quran mentions the word jihad 41 times, but mentions mercy, peace, and love 355 times, yet we still argue that Islam is a violent religion. 15,000 reported lives in the Middle East paid for the 3,000 lives that died on 9/11 and more lives continue to pay for this unfounded stigma.

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One Reply to “Let’s Talk About Islamophobia (Part 1)”

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