BY KOBI AZOULAY
The increase in ISIL coverage within the mainstream media, beginning with the alleged downing of a Russian plane, continuing with the Paris attacks and now reaching a new high in America with the San Bernardino shooting, has many Americans on-edge.
Unfortunately, those attacks have sparked a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, with Republican Presidential Frontrunner Donald Trump serving as the derogatory messenger.
First, he said he would “strongly consider” closing down mosques, before shifting his position to adding surveillance to them. Then a few days later, he announced that he was open to the idea of a database of all Muslims in America.
The public outrage sparked by those ideas was nothing compared to his latest proposal: temporarily ban all Muslims from immigrating or travelling into the country.
“We want to be very fair, but too many bad things are happening and the percentage of true hatred is too great,” Trump said.
Even though prominent Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus have come out strongly against the ban, the Republican base is not as concerned.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 38 percent of Republican primary voters support the Muslim ban, while 39 percent are opposed.
Considering the latest national poll from those news sites has Trump at 27 percent support among those same voters, his anti-Muslim proposal has not hurt him and there is even room for his support to grow because of it.
That is bad news for religious freedom in America, and even worse for Muslim-Americans, who have recently seen an increase in discrimination.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as of Dec. 8 there were 63 incidents involving harassment, threats, zoning discrimination and vandalism at American mosques and Islamic centers.
In November, the month that ISIL terrorists killed 130 people in Paris, there were 17 such incidents. That is almost three times as many as the next closest month, matching the threefold increase overall from last year
It is unlikely that the drastic increase is just a coincidence. American extremists are responding to Islamic terrorism with hate crimes of their own.
After Obama’s oval office speech on Dec. 6, Republican Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio criticized how much time he spent talking about anti-Muslim discrimination.
“Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims?” Rubio asked.
Well Mr. Rubio, check out the statistics above and you can see that there is widespread evidence. Ask the average Muslim on the street and chances are they can give you a personal example of their own.
People might be thinking, “Why should I care about hate crimes against Muslims? It’s wrong and unfortunate, but it doesn’t directly affect me.”
Hate crimes against Muslims play right into the hands of ISIL and other Islamic terror groups. If Muslims do not feel accepted by Western culture, they are more susceptible to terrorists’ message that there is a war against Islam.
This idea is reinforced in a Washington Post article by Jocelyn Bélanger, a psychology professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
“When people feel a loss of significance—when they are humiliated—that propels them to join a radical group,” Bélanger said. “A group gives them a feeling of significance. It fulfills a psychological need.”
Instead of pushing them towards these Islamic terrorist groups, Americans must bring them in as one of us. Let Muslims know that we value religious freedom and coexistence.
Hateful Islamophobia can be defeated in America, but it requires the compassionate majority to come together and denounce the anti-Muslim speech and actions being committed on a daily basis.