Following the horrific attacks in Paris this past weekend, negativity surrounding the Islamic faith is at an all-time high. While the Islamic Society of Central New York has had to deal with “islamophobia” before, some politicians and media outlets only perpetuate the negative connotation surrounding the religion.
At a town hall meeting in South Carolina this past Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, spoke harshly and insensitively about the issue of terrorism.
“There’s no rationale for barbaric Islamic terrorists who want to destroy western civilization,” said Bush.
Bush is not alone his thoughts. Both Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina have also tweeted about ending what they refer to as “Islamic terrorism.” While Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, retweeted a statement that the attacks were conducted by Islamic terrorist well before any official information was released.
Having seen what certain politicians and media outlets have said about the Islamic religion, two Syracuse residents took it upon themselves to offer the society their support and sympathy.
James Allen and Bernard Smith are practicing Catholics, but came to the Islamic Society of CNY to express their concerns with the harsh criticism of the religion in the media and offer their understanding to the Islamic community.
“Islam has just as much right to be here in this country as Christian[ity],” said Allen.
A Syrian Muslim, Abdullah Coja explains that the problem with ISIS and other terrorists groups using Islam as the reason for their acts of terror is that these groups are not following the teachings of the Quran.
Coja says, “they are not representing Islam, they are not from Islam. Of course in Islam there is Jihad, but not that Jihad.”
President of the Islamic Society of CNY, Mohamed Khater encourages people of other faiths to come to the mosque and ask questions about Islam. He believes that ignorance often stems from a lack of knowledge and a negative perception of Islam as portrayed by the media. Because of this lack of understanding, people participate in hate crimes such as burning the Quran or defacing a mosque.
Khater asserts, “You can’t paint a whole group, over a billion-and-a-half people, with the same brush because of the actions of a few people.”
Therefore, it is only through thoughtful questions and meaningful conversations, like the one between the a few Syracuse Catholics and a couple Syracuse Muslims, which will help end the misrepresentation of the Islamic religion.