Terrorism doesn’t always have a brown face

Islamophobia erases Muslim identities

Islam is not synonymous with terrorism. ISIS and al-Qaida are not Muslim groups. The Quran is not a book of extremist principles.

So why every time there is a terrorist attack, we are quick to blame Muslims?

Since the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center on Sep. 11, 2001, Muslims and the Arab world have become the scapegoat for terrorism.

Despite the fact that Islam is a religion based upon peace and humanity, many still condemn it as evil teachings. The sad truth is that many simply are uneducated in this religion; what is unknown becomes misunderstood, what is misunderstood becomes judged.

The Middle East has become a region masked as evil, due to Western fear and misunderstanding. After 9/11, the United States pledged to fight terrorism with the “Global War on Terror,” thinking that American boots marching in the Middle East would eradicate terrorism everywhere.

But terrorism knows no race. Terrorism knows no religion.

When a white man interrupts a Bible study and kills nine black Christians, as happened in Charleston, South Carolinaon June 15, it isn’t called terrorism.

When a white man emerges from a crowd of movie-goers at a premiere for the hottest blockbuster with a pellet gun and a hatchet, as happened in Nashville, Tennessee on Aug. 5, it isn’t called terrorism. It’s a reason to enforce stricter laws. It’s a reason to have better mental health screenings.

Incidents like these have never been a reason to start a whole war on white terrorists, because it’s never been considered terrorism in the first place. But how we define terrorism has everything to do with how we see those who commit violence, not the violent act itself. Once that shooter takes off his mask and reveals brown skin, then it’s terrorism.

Terrorism is when 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a 9th grader at MacArthur High school in Irving, Texas, was arrested last September for suspicion of making a fake bomb after crafting a clock and showing his teachers. [Note: The Washington Post reported Oct. 20 that Mohamed and his family would “soon be living” in Qatar after Mohamed received an offer from the Qatar Foundation to join its prestigious “Young Innovators” science and technology program.]

Terrorism is when Muslim girls are attacked for wearing a hijab out in public, as one was in London, also in September. Terrorism is France launching air strikes missiles in Syria following the terror attacks in Paris in order to defeat ISIS, but endangering innocent lives in the process. Terrorism is condemning a whole race for the acts of a few.

Everyone united to #PrayForParis, but stayed silent when Syria asked for the same support. Muslims around the world are using #notinourname to distance themselves from the violence that took place in the City of Light.

So it’s worth saying again: Islam is not synonymous with terrorism. ISIS and al-Qaida are not Muslim groups. The Quran is not a book of extremist principles.

And terrorism is not always the work of someone with a brown face.

This story was produced with Global Student Square, an international student-led initiative to get youth voice into the news ecosystem. To learn more about GSS, go to www.globalstudentsquare.org. Contact GSS at [email protected].