This has been a rough few months to be a Muslim American. Everyone should do their part to help our neighbors feel welcome during the holiday season.
THIS holiday season, share some love with your Muslim neighbors.
It’s been a rough few months for Muslim Americans. They have felt an election backlash in a very personal way. Some women in the Puget Sound region who wear head coverings are frightened to leave home alone for fear of anti-Muslim comments or worse — even in liberal Seattle.
Hate-crime statistics released by the FBI in November showed a sharp increase in attacks nationally against Muslims, from 154 incidents in 2014 to 257 in 2015. There were even more anti-Jewish incidents last year — about 650 — but not as sharp an increase because anti-Semitism, sadly, is common in the U.S.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has noted that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign led to hostility against Muslims. Since Trump’s call to register Muslims entering the U.S., hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.
America was founded on the idea of religious freedom — the freedom to celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or no holiday in December. Americans are permitted to buy Christmas presents and drink eggnog one day, then pray at a mosque or synagogue the next. Americans can choose whether to watch football or go to church — or neither — on Sunday.
Only in countries led by dictators are people forced toward government-sanctioned religious practice.
Muslim immigrants and Muslim Americans are not the enemy. The brand of Islam being observed in this country is not the extremism seen in some parts of the Middle East. How many times does it need to be said that Muslim belief is not compatible with terrorism, just like Christian belief is not compatible with hatred.
Most Christians who celebrate the winter holidays remember the Christmas story of a family that was discriminated against in ancient Israel, just because they were different. Today’s Muslim Americans are just Americans who have different beliefs and sometimes dress differently.
Get to know your Muslim neighbors by inviting them to your holiday celebration. Reach out to a nearby mosque and ask for a tour.
If you are a woman who belongs to a church or synagogue, offer your women’s group to escort Muslim women who don’t want to go out alone.
Christian, Muslim, atheist, Jew. All are entitled to enjoy an overwhelming holiday season filled with bright lights, loud music, cheerful greetings and too much food — if they choose.