Long Island Muslims Respond To Islamophobia

By Tibian Ahmed and Jager Robinson

The terrorist attacks in Brussels have begun to effect much more than the area of the blast.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a unconstitutional temporary ban on Muslims from entering the country while, Republican candidate Ted Cruz called for another unconstitutional directive for law enforcement to strictly patrol Muslim communities to prevent them from becoming radicalized.

A coalition of Long Island Muslim leaders spoke out about the effects of politics in spreading Islamophobia.

“[Most] of our fellow Americans have little knowledge of true Islamic teachings and most of them have very little or no contacts with the peaceful majority of Muslims,” Yousef Syed, Chairman of the Long Island Interfaith Outreach Committee, said. “The only thing they learn is from negative reporting of Islam and Muslims.”

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, President of the Islamic Center of Long Island and first woman president of the organization, believes that although her community is safe on Long Island, children are being discriminated against.

“None of the congregations have reported any reaction against the Islamic Centers on Long Island,” Chaudhry said. “[But] there are some kids who are being targeted. The political climate is not good for anyone,” she said.

Mohammed Akhtar, President of the Executive Committee of Selden Masjid, got even more specific mentioning that young women are being treated poorly because their clothing is an obvious symbol of Islam.

“Our young girls and our women who wear the hijab are discriminated against,” he said.

Chaudhry added that Muslims may be carrying the the heaviest religious burden in the world.

“Each one of the muslims is carrying the burden of the cross on their shoulders at this time. Everyone of the media and the politics have to start calling it what it is, it is terrorism, yes but this is terrorism against Islam as well,” she said.

This sentiment is felt by Akhtar as well.

“It is the [work] of a few misguided people,” Akhtar said. “It’s a clear message in our holy book. It clearly says that if you kill a single soul it’s as if you killed all of humanity. They are not following the religion properly.”

Syed continues this by saying it saddens him that our politicians promote Islamophobic remarks even though ISIS follows their own extremist ideology that doesn’t follow the holy book.

“Suicide and Killing innocent people is a major sin in Islam,” Syed said. “We speak out openly, write to the major newspapers, give statements on T.V. news against all forms of oppressions and terrorism.”

Chaudhry spoke about the issue of ISIS claiming Islam as their religion.

“Everyone has to come out in a united front and call these acts what they are. These are acts of violence and they are by killers. They are winning by damming a religion,” she said.

Syed says that the interfaith group, which is composed of all the major Abrahamic religions, remains strong through the various terrorist attacks and they continue grow towards peace everyday.

Even with this, students of Islam like Kareem Ibrahem, a Stony Brook University Microbiology student says that Muslims have an unfair burden.

“[The] only conversation about our faith is [in the] context of atrocities. So we’re trying to distance ourselves from the only image of us that’s put forward for people who don’t  interact with Muslims,” he said.

A few days after the Brussels attack, Pakistan was rattled by yet another suicide bomber. The blast, which killed nearly 70 people, prompted Chaudhry to plead that it is not only European countries who are affected.

“Nobody’s backyard is safe,” she said.

About Jager Robinson 8 Articles
Jager Robinson, Journalism Major At Stony Brook University, Interested in Business/Tech/Video Game Journalism