The anniversary of the Twin Towers attack has sparked controversy in the United States over how to balance individual liberty with security. The role that racism plays in restricting the civil liberties of religious minorities is often lost in the midst of talk and debate. Currently the target is Muslims. A century ago there were Jews and Catholics.
Racism and the process by which people fall victim to it look very similar. In the process, religious minorities were first portrayed in the media and among government officials as dishonest and insulting as violating state laws. Then (Anglo-Saxon Protestants) Americans are shown as a threat to their religious way of life. In the end, religion is mixed with a dangerous political ideology to keep them from following religious precepts.
For two decades, the media has consistently portrayed Muslims as terrorists among Americans. There has been little news in the media about how millions of Muslim doctors, teachers, businessmen, lawyers and other professionals in the United States are playing a role in the country’s overall development. A 2016 survey conducted by the University of Alabama found that from 2008 to 2015, the number of terrorist attacks on non-Muslims in the United States was 358 times higher than if Muslims were involved in a terrorist attack.
Politicians in the United States have legitimized the media by portraying the Muslim community as a scapegoat, with lawsuits against Muslims, surveillance, and expulsions. The common security message for Americans from both the Republican and Democratic camps through the Bush administration’s National Security Entry-Exit System (NSEERS) or the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism project is the message of security to Americans.
Donald Trump then began his presidential campaign by using immigration and Islamophobia as a platform. In March 2016, he declared, “I think Islam hates us. They have a terrible hatred for us. That is why we have to be very careful about those who hate the people of the United States and non-Muslims, and we cannot allow them to enter our country. “
The anti-Muslim stance of a society that views the protection of human religious freedom as a fundamental value is a matter of conflict. This is not the first time in the United States that there has been discrimination against religious minorities. Black Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic minorities have suffered similar discrimination in the past. As I explained in my book, The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom, it is not just the anatomy and skin color that is the basis of racism. Religious identity also plays a big role in this.
The shape of a person’s body, the color of his skin, the color of his hair, the shape of his face দেখে all these determine the origin of his nationality and according to that, how much status he will get at any level of society is socially determined. But a large portion of Protestant Christians in the United States have historically regarded religious identity as the basis of racism outside of this ethnic identity. They have historically been racist towards non-Protestant Christians or followers of other religions.
When millions of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe came to the United States from 180 to 1924, they clearly saw themselves as victims of racist behavior. These people were Jews and Catholics of European descent. Under American law at the time, they were socially recognized as “moderate” citizens. Although they were considered higher citizens than blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, they were considered inferior to Northern European Protestants.
In 1920, the Ku Klux Klan, an organization of white Protestants, began to build public opinion against Catholics. They are telling Americans that Catholics are spreading the teachings of foreign-born religious leaders and foreign-language cultures in America, posing a great threat to Anglo-Protestant national identity. It was only the Catholic religion that raised the suspicion among Protestants that Catholics were secretly plotting to undermine the idea of individual liberty in the United States. White patriots allege that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that Catholics were preaching in the United States are in conflict with the values of liberalism and, at the end of the day, a threat to American democracy. That’s right Conspiracy theories have been used in anti-Sharia propaganda of Islam since the Nine-Eleven attacks.
Islamophobia is spreading today in the same way that anti-Semitism was spreading then. In the early nineteenth century, the mainstream media referred to Jews as deceivers, separatists, parasites, rogues, Bolsheviks, and so on. When the number of Jews in the United States exceeded 3 million in 1920 (most of them from Eastern Europe), Protestant patriots began to spread religious racist propaganda against Jews. They began to say that these Jews were not the original Jews, but the Mongols and Khazars of Turkish descent who later converted to Judaism.
Until the early part of the twentieth century, the American media used to comment negatively on the color of the eyes, the shape of the nose, the shape of the face, and so on. This series of propaganda led Americans to believe by 1937 that Jews were being persecuted in Europe for their evil deeds and that they deserved it.
As a result of two decades of continuous propaganda, the situation till 2016 is terrible. According to a Pew Research survey, 50 percent of Americans think that Muslims are not mainstream Americans. Forty-eight percent of Americans have warm feelings about Muslims. Attempts have been made to corner Muslims in the United States, especially after the 9/11 attacks. While Christianity is considered normal, the whole Muslim community in the United States has fallen into disarray by portraying Islam as a dangerous ideology.
In this context, we need to highlight in various debates and conversations the damage done to democratic values in the United States by religiously discriminating against Muslims and making them victims of racism. If we can do that, the fear of American Islam will be removed.