Muslims Face Disturbing Discrimination

by Arjun Singh ‘12
On September 11, 2001, the terrorist group al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 innocent people in a series of coordinated suicide attacks. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy, Americans rightfully were outraged. Although this anger could be seen as reasonable at that time due to the many casualties, now, nine years later, it still persists. However, this anger seems to be broadly directed at Muslims instead of just at al-Qaeda. This tragic event has unfortunately resulted in high levels of discrimination towards Muslims.

Incidents such as the controversy of building a mosque near Ground Zero, the supposed ‘Burn a Quran Day’ and the publicized incident of a drunken man urinating on a mosque rug are examples of intolerance and discrimination against Islam. Today these events and those that go unreported are unacceptable forms of discrimination that our society should not stand for.

America is supposedly built on the foundation of freedom, yet there is disrespect for a religion widely practiced all around the country. The Bill of Rights, an extended part of the U.S. Constitution, clearly states that all citizens have the right to exercise religion freely, allowing them to believe and worship as they wish, free from persecution.

The controversy over the mosque near Ground Zero is that many believe an Islamic place of worship should not be placed two blocks away from a location of deep sorrow and pain since it may emotionally hurt the loved ones of victims of the September 11 attacks. Many see Ground Zero as a memorial for those who died there, but Muslims have the right to worship wherever they want, including near Ground Zero. Another similar incident occurred in Tennessee, where people protested the construction of another mosque. Where does this intolerance end? Is a mosque not allowed to be built anywhere in America? There has to be a limit to peoples’ outrageous claims forbidding the construction of a place of worship. It would be a great sign of forgiveness and acceptance on Americans’ part if the mosques were built.

America’s continued intolerance of other religions only encourages discrimination and intolerance in other places. Terry Jones, a pastor for a small church in Gainesville, Florida, had planned to burn the Quran on this year’s anniversary of September 11. In retaliation to Jones’ plan, hundreds of people in Kabul, Afghanistan burned a U.S. flag and chanted “Death to the Christians.” The intolerance of religions in America encourages foreign nations to retaliate against America. As President Barack Obama said, this extreme prejudice goes against the basis of America. “The idea that we would burn sacred texts of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for. It is contrary to what this nation was founded on.”

“All men are created equal.” This common phrase is from the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. No human being should have any more rights than another no matter what their beliefs are. The incident of the man urinating on the mosque rug demonstrates great disrespect against the Islamic religion. Acts such as these make us no better or superior. Discrimination against another is morally wrong and has no justification.

Freedom and tolerance are the foundations of America. Today, those too often have been replaced with prejudice and bigotry. The War on Terror, in response to the September 11 attacks, is supposedly a fight against terrorists. With so much evidence of discrimination in America, the question arises whether this is the War on Terror or the War on Islam.