Teenagers still struggle with Islamophobia

Ayesha Paracha, 15, a Muslim student from Purcellville, Virginia, says Islamophobia unfairly impacts how people view her. By Ella Krug

Ayesha Paracha, a 15-year-old Muslim from Virginia, wasn’t alive on September 11, 2001, but still feels its effects.

“While driving, my mom covers her head with a scarf and has been flipped off multiple times,” said Paracha, 15, of Purcellville, Virginia. Many Muslims experience this on a daily basis.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have occurred throughout the country since September 11. Although hate crimes have slowed down in more recent years, the election of Donald Trump has brought back vandalism and religious threats against Muslims.

According to the FBI, there were 2,545 anti-Muslim incidents in the United States from 2001 to 2015. Muslims have had their mosques vandalized and ripped pages of the Quran, their holy book, burned. Some are afraid to even leave their house and risk being attacked by people influenced by Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as a “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.” Some Muslims speculate that the terrorist attacks that have been happening lately created an image that all Muslims have bad intentions. Social platforms and news sites also helped portray this impression.

“Muslim values aren’t the ones depicted by the media,” said Mariya Tayyab, 21.

Society heavily relies on the media to give information the people need. With that, serious issues like Islam are depicted falsely and people tend to believe what they want without hearing the facts.

In America, there are Muslims who think that Islamophobia increased after Trump became President. New reports say that incidents of Islamophobia grew by 57 percent in 2016.

“Trump made it sound like it was okay to say those types of things,” Paracha said, referring to the rude remarks people say to Muslims out in public. Many Muslims interviewed in June say they are tired of people being afraid of them, when they aren’t trying to cause trouble.

After Trump proposed the travel ban and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld parts of it, tensions against Muslims have seen a resurgence. The six countries affected by the travel ban are Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

“Banning them isn’t fair because people come here for opportunities and that’s what he’s taking away,” Paracha said. Many Muslims are trying to leave their countries to escape war and find safety for themselves and their families.

“It’s shameful, disheartening, and there’s no reason for it,” Altin Dastmalchi, 31, said, while talking about the travel ban.

Muslims are doing their best to be careful while in public and are aware of the dangers they have to face.

Dastmalchi said his family isn’t afraid, but they are much more vigilant now. Many Muslims are conscious of the hazards of identifying themselves as Muslims, and tend to be afraid to do so.

Muslims like to make some friends who are also Muslim because it’s easier to publicly identify themselves as Muslim when they’re not alone. Others want Muslims to not be afraid and act cowardly but stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

Numerous Muslims find it hard to convince non-Muslims that they are like them and not the terrorists. With uncivil threats and actions by those who are influenced by Islamophobia, it’s just a little more challenging.

“I just wish people knew that we mean no harm, that we just want to live like everyone else,” Kamalia Hasni, age 21, said.