No to Terrorism, Yes to Human Rights by Yamna Ayadi, Tunisia

charlie-hebdo-musulman-notinmyname_5183949Terrorism is an awful crime that can never be excused or justified. It poses a major threat to human rights, beginning with the most fundamental of rights – the right to life. Thousands of innocent souls have lost their lives. Terrorism, with its destructive power, has led to  growing mistrust, fear, and a significant new threat to international peace and security. It threatens relationships between nations and people. What effect does it have on young Muslims trying to find their way in society? I wonder: “Why are Muslims so often stereotyped as terrorists? When a person stereotypes someone or a group, is it discrimination? Does it lead to acts of violence against Muslims?” Labeling a person just because that individual comes from another religion is completely racist and unfair. Even if the terrorists are muslims, they should not be labeled as “Islamic terrorists”. In the same way, it would not be called “Jewish terrorism” if they were Jews or “Christian terrorism” if they were Christians. Newspaper headlines regularly print the words “Islam” and “Muslim” next to words like “terrorist” and “violence.” Why does such a small group of extremists, whose terrorist actions violate the central principles of Islam, determine the public image of the entire Muslim community? Where is the accuracy and fairness of the media?

One of the major stereotypes that some of my Muslim friends have to deal with is when they meet new people they often think that Islam is a religion of violence, and then need to defend their faith because of the prejudices and stereotypes held by people they encounter. In the end, they discover that not all Muslims are terrorists. And, it’s a good thing that people learn, but it’s sad that it takes a meeting with a Muslim person to reach such a conclusion because of the dominance of this stereotype. A religious person who fears  God can never commit such an act. The Prophet Muhammad once listed murder as the second of the major sins and he even warned that, on the Day of Judgment, {The first cases to be adjudicated between people on the Day of Judgment will be those of bloodshed.} Every attack made in the name of “religion” on innocent people is actually an attack made against religion. Terrorism is not, in any way, affiliated with Islam; in fact, it contradicts the very belief of Islam. How can a religion that’s name is Islam, which in Arabic is “peace,” be practiced as a violent religion? There is a misconception that has developed which links Islam and terrorism together. The media has been a big contributor to this misconception in many ways. The media is the principle supplier of false information about Muslims; feeding the public stereotypes that all Muslims are terrorists, and that the Quran, their holy book, promotes violence.

There are people who view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. These people, and their interpretation of Islam, are rightly called “extremist;” they are a minority within Islam and the vast majority of Muslims reject their violence and consider their interpretation a distortion of the Muslim faith. It’s important that people realize that Muslims don’t equal  terrorists. Every human being is different and they deserve a chance to express themselves – don’t let stereotypes define who we are. Ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about and I hope that Muslims are no longer stereotyped as terrorist.

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