Unfortunately, 2015 has been the worst year on record for American Muslims since 9/11.
Incidents such as the shooting on a military installment in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California have fueled anti-Islamic sentiments all across the United States.
In fact, most people in the West have come to associate the word “Islam” with extremism and have spent a major part of the last few months demonizing Muslims for the unspeakable actions of terrorist organizations like Islamic State.
Mosques are being vandalized, shopkeepers robbed and families assaulted for following their religion. In circumstances like these, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country has encouraged hate crimes even more.
However, it’s not only Muslims who are being affected by this wave of Islamophobia — people of other faiths are also bearing the brunt of America’s ignorance and blind hatred toward followers of one particular religion.
Recently a masked man shot a convenience store worker in the face after calling him a terrorist. The unidentified man also said something along the lines of “I shot people like you overseas.” Since the victim was an Indian immigrant, the attacker assumed he was a Muslim, although he was reportedly a Catholic.
Similarly, people are also attacking Sikhs assuming they follow Islam, even though Sikhism is an entirely different religion.
“Sikhs have been mistaken for terrorists and radicals and continue to suffer after 9/11,” Iqbal S. Grewal, a member of the Sikh Council of Central California, told the Fresno Bee after one of their older members was assaulted by the local police. “This is the latest episode of what Sikhs have been enduring when they are very peace-loving and hard-working citizens of this great country and not members of al-Qaida or ISIS or any other radical group.”
In November, a Christian Uber driver also got attacked by an enraged passenger who mistook him for a Muslim.
“I was driving and he hit me while I was driving,” recalled Samson Woldemichael, who came to the U.S. eight years ago from Ethiopia. “I told him in the first place I was not a Muslim, (but) it’s not right to generalize people and do that.”
If incidents like the above are any indication, America needs to realize that all Muslims are not terrorists. The actions of one small fraction of people should not dictate how the rest of the population must be treated. Moreover, Americans should also come to understand that not everyone with Indian, African or Arab heritage is necessarily a Muslim.