by Jalil Boulahassas
At about 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, two gunmen, Cherif and Said Kouachi, dressed in black and equipped with bulletproof vests and assault rifles approached the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters and killed a security officer. They then encountered a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, who they forced to open the fortified door outside the main offices. After gathering the staff, they separated men and women and called the names of those whom they intended to kill. They then proceeded to execute those selected, claiming that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad and shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
The way that Muslim extremists continue to credit the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam as their motivators in their horrendous acts against society has really taken a toll on Muslims, and especially those living in the west. “They go and do [things] and we have to deal with the consequences after, like facing hate crimes, and mosque bombings and all that,” said sophomore Amina Salad.
As terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and the newly surfaced ISIS grow more and more dangerous, it seems as though fewer westerners can distinguish an innocent Muslim from a violent extremist. When asked about what he thought the difference was, sophomore Sifaw Bouylazane said “Islam means peace and we don’t encourage killing people no matter what they do to you. I don’t even consider extremists as Muslims.”
Following the attacks on Ottawa and Sydney last year and in France in January, there has been a new wave of Islamophobia across the globe. The hashtag #KillAllMuslims began to trend on Twitter just a mere month and a half after the hashtag #AllLivesMatter was trending. Anti-Islamic advertisements went up on the side of San Francisco public busses by the Freedom Defense Initiative, a far right political group classified as a hate group in the UK.
This issue of Islamophobia is also quickly surging throughout European countries. Since the Charlie Hebdo attack, three mosques have been attacked in France and islamophobic acts are at an all-time high according to police in France. One such incident was the murder of a 47 year-old Moroccan man named Mohamed El Makouli by his French neighbor.
French Muslims now face injustices on a daily basis, something also seen in other European countries like Germany and the UK. This is largely due to organizations like the European Patriots Against the Islamization of the West who usually spark up violence against Muslims. In the UK, 45 percent of Muslim youth reported facing islamophobic experiences in a new survey, according to RT.
The surviving cartoonists of the Charlie Hebdo attack recently released a new magazine soon after, depicting what some consider an offensive drawing of the Prophet Muhammad, resulting in deadly protests and even more tension between Muslims and the western world.
Islamophobia was again highlighted in the news and on social media on February 11th when a shooting occurred in Chapel Hill, NC. A newlywed couple and the wife’s sister were shot and killed by their neighbor, a middle aged white man named Craig Hicks. The victims’ families and millions of twitter users claimed that the event was a hate crime. While some evidence points to the motive being an ongoing dispute over parking, authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime.
The world needs to become aware of the fact that a few people’s actions do not define the whole. In sophomore Brian Hrdy’s eyes, Muslims “just want to practice their religion and want equality.” While there may be an ongoing war against terrorism, there will never be a justified war on Islam. Islam is and will continue to be a religion about peace.