Opinion: Muslim freedom and persecution

Marvin Logan is a senior pan-African studies major. Contact him at [email protected]

Marvin Logan

For the past 14 years, Muslims in America have experienced increased persecution and negative attention following 9/11. Since the war on terror began, many have faced discrimination for fitting the description of a terrorist. Random searches, detainment and fearful stares in public are all things that have become associated with actions taken towards those who follow Allah. Many believers of Islam come to the states for the same reasons as others, the freedom to pursue a better life. Due to the actions of few, Muslims across the globe are coming under fire.

In recent weeks, news stations have ramped up their discussions of Muslims due to the attacks in Paris. Some have discussed the assimilation, or lack thereof, of Muslims. Given my trade in discourse, I generally detest the word “assimilate.” However, the argument is that it is dangerous to not require immigrants to fully assimilate in order to integrate into our country. Immigrants, and in my opinion most Americans, are known to develop their own circular communities. In these communities, they continue to practice their native culture as a way to ease the transition.  In addition, it allows them to practice and teach their culture to their children.

In France, government officials are debating whether or not Muslims who support jihad or sympathize with extremists should be allowed to keep their citizenship. The battle is similar here in the United States. Those who speak out and support some of the views of extremists can become subject to surveillance, or things such as a no-fly list. The Patriot Act also makes it legal to detain individuals even for the perceived threat of national security with no warning or explanation.

All in all, I think citizenship isn’t conditional. Prisoners still have rights. Those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights should have them as well. We live in a country founded on values of freedom, first among them freedom of speech and religion. We can’t dehumanize a group of people because of their choice in religion.

Nor can we devalue someone who supports outcries from members of their faith. Now too often, we paint an unbalanced picture of Muslims based on the actions of factions of their faith group. However, it is argued that more lives have been claimed in the name of Christ than any other religion. While that is debatable, we must hold all to the same standard. The Ku Klux Klan has a long history of discrimination and domestic terrorism. Still, we do not see constant images of them, along with other Christian white supremacy groups, being displayed as threats to the American way of life and the liberties of non-white Christians.

Simply put, everyone around you has the right to practice their religion of choice, the freedom to express themselves through lawful protest, and the ability to share their opinions as long as they don’t pose a threat to the rights of others. The people we think are so different from us are often the ones most like us. History has a tendency to repeat itself, but sometimes, history never ends. Challenge yourself and challenge others.