Muslim students break down stereotypes

Itzel Leon International Reporter

Terrorist attacks not only affect the people who died or were injured but also the people who practice the same religion as or simply looks like the attacker.         

“Our first reaction is, ‘Please, please, please don’t let it be a “Muslim” who initiated the attack.’ We have that fear since 9/11,” former Kent State graduate and Cleveland’s Niagara Foundation Executive Director Murat Gurer said.

“When we find out it’s extremists or Islamic radical groups, it’s a setback and frustration to us,” Gurer said.

Gurer uses “Muslim” loosely when he talks about terrorists who consider themselves Muslim.

“Those people (terrorists) are totally violating (Islam) and I don’t think they know anything about us. If they do actually read their holy text, which is the Qur’an, they would not do that,” he said.

Reactions of Muslims to terrorist’s attacks are the same as almost everyone’s.

“My reaction is the same reaction as Americans. Anytime bad things happen and people die, they (ISIS) take the name of Islam and they don’t have any relation with Islam,” sophomore English major Fahad Alattallah said.

Freshman biology pre-med major Hansen Dahastani feels anger when she hears of a terrorist attack.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is that we are not like that. Not all Muslims are terrorists and we can’t say that all terrorists are Muslims,” she said.

“Because ISIS or a minority did a terrible thing, that doesn’t give anyone the right to say that all Muslims are terrorists. I think it is an angry reaction that causes some people to say such things,” junior sociology major Eyes Alsayed said.

After a terrorist attack, social media is flooded with grief and sympathy but things turn ugly when users post and tweet something along the lines of “All Muslims are terrorists.”

“I don’t know why people always relate terrorist’s attacks to Muslims. I think that has nothing to do with us. It’s wrong what they’re doing,” freshman criminology major Alyaziya Yousif said.

Social media and the media in general have played a big part in the misconceptions of Muslims.

“That’s (social media) the big problem. People trust social media or trust the news. We can’t just see the news and say ‘all people are the same’ or ‘all Muslims are the same,’” freshman interior design major Sana Sulayhim said.

Since 9/11, Muslims feel as though the media has portrayed them in a negative light.

“There have been contributions of huge amount of money to put fear of Islam into people’s mind,” Gurer said, “We cannot change the media and their culture. The media is going to be media. They’re going to go after what will pay their bills. In fact, a lot of news outlets agree with the statement that bad news pays their bills and we’re (Muslims) not going to change that.”

“We need to move on and find a better way to overcome this problem. Media, media, media. Since 9/11 we’ve talked about this. I think we’ve made our point. It’s going to be the same and I don’t think it’s (media) going anywhere. In fact, today, it’s still the same content they keep putting out. I think we need to find a more innovative way, a more different way to overcome this problem. So we cannot just sit and complain about the media and their culture and their practices,” Gurer said.

Some students don’t necessarily blame Americans for having a negative view on Muslims.

“I don’t blame anyone when they have a bad view on Islam because of all of the things that some people who claim to be Muslim are doing. They have to read and talk to the right people (Muslims) and not just base it off of T.V. or whatever the media is showing about Islam.

Terrorist attacks like the more recent ones in Brussels and Paris have been lead by ISIS. Most Muslims agree members of ISIS are not true Muslims and they represent Muslims poorly.

“They have another religion. They have different rules, different things, different ideas, different loyalties and different thoughts. Everything is different between us. They’re not Muslims,” Alattallah said.

Some Muslims think ISIS could be of any religion. It’s just a matter of location.

“They (ISIS) are using the name of Islam to accomplish several goals. They are in the Muslim area so they need to use something to make people join them. If those people were somewhere else, they would use another religion to convince people in that area to join them,” Alsayed said.

Alsayed said ISIS is only using his religion for their own benefits.

“Islam in ISIS’ hand is just a tool. They don’t actually follow Islam. We know this from reading their articles or statements. As Muslims, it’s clearly against Islam,” he said.

“It makes me mad because they’re “representing” Islam in their own way,” Yousif said.

The way ISIS represents itself is the not the way most Muslims want to be represented.

“We have the most amazing and kind religion. You cannot judge religion from some people’s actions,” Daghastani said.

Some Muslim students have experienced racism on campus because of the way their religion is portrayed by the media and by ISIS and other terrorists claiming to be Muslim.

“I was near Starbucks in my car and for no reason a girl with a white car flipped me off.  I was shocked and asked myself ‘what did I do?’ But I can understand that, fear makes people react badly. And a person like Donald Trump makes it easier and socially acceptable to do such things,” Alsayed said.

Hijabs are an important part of a Muslim’s religion and makes it easy for people to identify someone’s religion.

“Because I’m wearing this scarf, some people don’t like to talk to me,” Daghastani said, “I think some people here are having problems with the scarves. If she saw me wearing a scarf, she wouldn’t talk to me. Or if she knew that I was Muslim she will think that I’m bad.”

Gurer said dealing with racism can be hard but Muslims should not be afraid.

“Don’t be afraid. Always try to be active as much as they can, in the classroom, in the committee, in campus events to raise their voices. Don’t just go to the corner and don’t just be afraid and say ‘you know what? I’m afraid to go out. I’m not going to say anything. I’m not going to do this.’ If you do that, we’re not going to accomplish anything,” he said.

Gurer emphasized on females to show their pride in being Muslim.

“Especially ladies. They have the biggest roles in this because of their hijab. They need to be active and they need to be in front of people. They need to be in the community events and raise their voices and say, ‘you know what, I just want to share what’s happening today.’ and say ‘I am Muslim and they (ISIS) do not represent us,” Gurer said.

Islam is a religion of peace and many students want to share that and let people know they are also against ISIS and any terrorist attacks.

“We have to stand together as humans against people who do such terrible things,” Alsayed said.

“If you want to know Islam, you just need to hear about it from someone who is actually Muslim and is actually doing what Islam says,” Daghastani said.

Gurer believes reaching out to friends will promote peace and diversity.

“We should do more work. Reach out to our friends and neighbors and then represent our values in the right way. That’s why I’m with the organization and foundation like this. To promote peace and dialogue and diversity where we can come together and talk about these things,” Gurer said.