I grew up among Muslim refugees from the Middle East. I’m an MK, missionary kid. Of all the Muslim refugees I knew around personally, none of them dreamed of killing Americans.
The truth is that these refugees are scared. They flee from terror and atrocities that flood their countries: like Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. I knew three families that gave up all their wealth to escape the war in Lebanon. One of those families, watched their father get killed while trying to escape from the capital. Hundreds of thousands more families like these have lost everything. They are in need of peace and safety. The USA provides this peace and safety. But America limits the number of coming Muslim refugees due to the distorted view of Muslims as terrorists.
So why is there a distorted view?
Since 9/11 in 2001, the Muslims have received horrific reputation in the United States for the terrorist attacks committed. Americans have flagged Islam as a “violent religion”. Trust has been lost with Muslims. Fear of Muslims have made the US border patrol block large amounts of Muslim refugees into the country at a time. In their eyes, any Muslim refugee could be a terrorist. House Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, speaks in opposition of Muslim refugees entering the borders of America:
We cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion, this is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. We think the prudent and responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program, in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.
Already 15 US state governors have agreed with Ryan and are not providing placement for Muslim refugees into countries with well-known affiliations with terrorism (such as Syria and Iraq). They argue that Muslim refugees pose too great of a risk to national security. The other state governors welcome the few refugees but settle them in refugee camps where they can be monitored behind fences.
Interpreting Muslims as terrorists is a misjudgment
The news of radical Muslim terrorist attacks, like the ones in Paris, has been exploited to American newspapers and televisions. Americans, impacted by 9/11, see these recent attacks in Europe as a deep concern for their safety among Muslims. They develop a false conclusion that since all these attacks were caused by Muslims, they must be the main cause for terrorism. But this is a complete generalization. According to the FBI, 94% of terrorist attacks carried out in the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. This means that a foreign terrorist suspect is over nine times more likely to be a non-Muslim than a Muslim. In fact, since 1970, only 0.0009% of the Muslim refugees worldwide that came into Europe or America have committed terrorist acts.
The reality is that Muslim refugees are not coming into the US to murder, it is the exact opposite. “Syrian and Iraqi refugees are the victims of terrorism, fleeing the same type of atrocities that America has witnessed,” said Shelly Pitterman, of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “They’ve rejected the ideology of extremism and share the values of freedom and tolerance.”
All the Muslim refugees who lived in my neighborhood were fleeing from their countries where war and terrorism thrived. They firmly support the pursuit of peace and justice and extremely despise the acts of Muslim terrorists. One Muslim refugee father who lived across from my house expressed his despise to me: “May these Muslims who pledge themselves to Allah for terrorism, be condemned eternally by Allah”. Muslim refugees are just as afraid of and angry towards Islamic terrorism as we Americans are.
What can America do?
We must change our fear of Muslim refugees entering American soil to kill. The refugees are scared as much as we are of the terror that emigrated them out of the country. We can find unity and compassion for these refugees. Above all, we are fighting on the same side against terrorism.