In December presidential candidate Donald Trump made headlines with the suggestion that all Muslims should be barred from entering the United States in order to protect the country from terrorist attacks. This shocking statement has lead to people wondering how we as Americans should respond to the difficulties faced by Muslims living in the United States.
We live in a time of fear and uncertainty. It seems as though there are shootings and terrorist attacks on the news every day. Every day innocent American citizens are being killed. People are living in fear and looking for someone to blame. The actions of a few religious extremists behind recent terrorist attacks have lead to many Americans believing that Muslims are to blame for terrorist attacks. Some Americans believe that the only way to protect our country is to keep a close eye on Muslims.
In the Unites States Muslims represent a small segment of the population. Pew Research Center has found that “there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015. This means that Muslims made up about 1 percent of the total U.S. population.” (A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population) The low number of Muslims living in the United States means that people are uncertain of what is fact and what is fiction about Muslims. People know little about Muslims and their core beliefs. Instead of researching Muslim beliefs people base their opinions of Muslims on what they see on the news. Much of what we see on the news about Muslims covers the few religious that have carried out acts of terrorism. This has lead to stereotyping of Muslims. Some common stereotypes about Muslims are that Muslims are anti-American and violence. What we do not see on the news is the good things that Muslims are doing for the country. Muslims are doing great things for the environment, the poor, and education. If news stories focused more on the good things Muslims are doing for this country, people would learn that they do not need to be afraid of all Muslims.
A group of Millennials were asked on Facebook if the United States should ban Muslims from entering the United States the vast majority responded with support for Muslims. Aaron Johnson writes “NO! Did Jesus ever bar anyone from coming to him? Did he ever not accept anyone or not show love to anyone who was different than him? We need to be accepting of them so that we can be a light in their life.” Marissa Buhman writes, “America is a land built on immigration and the search for a better life, why take that right away from Muslims? We as a Christian nation also need to look at Muslims as children of God, not unloving.” The consensus among those surveyed was that it is wrong for us to consider denying anyone access to the United States based solely on their religion.
The problems faced by Muslims have gotten the attention of American leaders. In response to rising tensions in the Unites States, Barack Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore. The reason for his visit was to speak about discrimination and hate directed at Muslim-Americans. This event was significant to the Muslim community because it was the first time Obama visited a mosque during his presidency. Obama expressed heartbreak for the trials faced by Muslims across the country. In his speech Obama called for peace and unity among Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. Obama stated that “We’re one American family, and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second class, or targeted it tears at the very fabric of our nation.” Obama’s speech highlighted the need for change in the United States. (To see the entire speech click here) Citizens need to be willing to admit that the way Muslims are being treated is wrong. We as a nation need to figure out how to insure that our Muslim neighbors are not denied their right to live in peace and freely express their religion.
In conclusion there is a lot that needs to be done to insure that Muslims living in the United States feel safe and welcomed. One of the most important things people can do right now is to seek out the truth about Muslims and their beliefs. This will help people to learn that Muslims believe in peace not violence. People will learn that the stereotypes applied to Muslims are not true. By being open minded about other people’s ways of life we can learn to live together in peace rather than turning against each other.
“Donald Trump: Ban All Muslim Travel to U.S.” CNN. Cable News Network, 8 Dec. 2015. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.
“A New Estimate of the U.S. Muslim Population.” Pew Research Center RSS. N.p., 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
“President Obama Remarks at Baltimore Mosque Jan. 3, 2016 [FULL SPEECH].” YouTube. YouTube, 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.