Mar 222011
Authors: Jamal Kamandy

I believe ignorance precedes hate, whereas knowledge precedes love.

“Islamophobia” is the hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims, and like a pandemic, it is quickly spreading across the U.S. Since 9/11, American Muslims, who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, have become the target of acts of discrimination, violence and misinformation.

Politically, vague laws that target American Muslims’ Constitutional and human right to practice religion peacefully are now being challenged in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.

I contend that these “anti-sharia” laws that are meant to “weed out the bad Muslims,” are nothing more than a modern day witch-hunt, which purposely ostracizes, intimidates, and oppresses an entire group of people based off stereo-types, generalizations, and over-simplified “facts.”

Then what are the facts about Muslims, sharia law and terrorism?

First, the phrase “Islamic terrorism” is misguided because it presupposes that acts of terror and violence are a practice of Islam. This is false. Al-Qaeda and other terrorists in no way represent the truths and values of mainstream Islam. In fact, the Quran teaches that if you kill one person, it is as if you killed all of humanity, but if you save a life, it is as if you saved all of humanity.

Furthermore, Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst and head of the CIA’s project to capture Osama Bin Laden, stated that terrorist attacks are not motivated by Islam. Rather, terrorism is propelled by the belief that U.S. foreign policy has oppressed and belittled Muslims and the Middle East.

Second, sharia law is a form of jurisprudence that Muslims have interpreted from the Quran. It is not, however, a universal codified and systematized set of laws. There is no “Muslim Pope” or “decider” who defines what is and isn’t sharia. Sharia law takes various forms, and is interpreted differently by Muslim individuals, families, communities, and cultures. Historically, Muslims have adhered to interpretations of sharia that are most conducive to the cultures in which they live. American Muslims overwhelmingly understand Islam, like any religion, is a voluntary ethical and social practice.

The authors of “anti-sharia” laws use such broad and vague wording in describing what sharia is. If a Muslim cleans himself, is active in his community, and donates to charities – all laws of sharia – they can be deemed a potential terrorist according to these authors.

When a government passes legislation that singles out a group of people by their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, it is institutionalized discrimination and tyranny. There is no justice in mistreating an entire group of people based off the acts of a few individuals within that group.

Lastly, Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Hatred in America has never been rectified; rather, the target of hate has changed over time. Catholics were once accused of “attempting to instigate fascism,” the Jews were charged for “bringing communism to America,” and Muslims today have become the scapegoats for terrorism.

I firmly believe that injustice committed against one person is an injustice committed against all.

Although you may not be a Muslim, you have every reason as an American and human being to be concerned with the recent rise of Islamophobia, which poses a threat to religious freedom, constitutional rights and human rights. In times of moral and social crisis, we must unite as human beings and not be distracted by divisions of ethnicity and religion. What if tomorrow you and your people became the new “enemy?”

Jamal Kamandy is a senior political science and philosophy major. He is also a member of Young Americans for Liberty and the Center for Peace Justice and Environment. Kamandy can be reached at Other letters and feedback can be sent to

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