by Nicholas Leahey
On November 13, 2015, the world was rocked by news of a terrorist which took place in Paris, France. In a coordinated attack which the Islamic State took credit for, 130 people were killed.
Then, on December 2, 2015, a married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State, attacked San Bernardino Inland Regional Center, killing 14 people and injuring 21 others.
In the wake of such events that shocked everyone around the country, people have voiced their reactions and concerns about the effects which the events have triggered.
“We cannot let these events deter our lives,” said sophomore Tevin Jourdain.
Most notable of the consequences, has been the backlash that the Muslim-American community has faced. Among them, include Muslim students who attend Central Connecticut.
“I know it didn’t represent my religion,” said Willeed Rabah, a biomolecular science major and a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at CCSU. He along with other Muslim students on campus, say they have seen discrimination and stereotyping first-hand both in their own lives, as well as other people’s.
“I was dumbfounded,” said Eyad Ahmad, as he told a story in about a time when his brother-in-law was pulled over without cause, brought down to a police station and fingerprinted for having the same name as a person who was on the terrorist-watch list. “He was pulled over for no reason,” he said.
Rabah did not want to discuss any stories he or others had experienced, but indicated that he along with other family and friends, has had trouble with airport security when traveling. “It’s every time,” he said.
While the Muslim community as a whole has experienced discrimination, women tend to be confronted with it the most because they usually wear a hijab, a veil which covers the head and chest.
Alaa Alia has herself been a victim of stereotyping. She cited an incident after 9/11 when a gentlemen harassed her and her friends about the event. Alia, who was wearing her hijab at the time, also said she was told she should have been ashamed for herself because of the recent events.
“There was a twist though,” said Alia. “Everyone who was in the room at the time ended up kicking him out because he was being so rude.”
Amidst the adversity they may experience, students who are Muslim have not felt discouraged from practicing their religion – exercising a right guaranteed to them in the Third Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
“No, I have never been discouraged to practice my religion,” said Abdourahmane Camara, a senior and Resident Assistant at CCSU. He said it bothered him that people in other parts of the world have used Islam to justify their own agenda. “Islam is a peaceful religion,” he added.
In lieu of the events which have unfolded over the past few months, media outlets have been covering related conflicts and debates around the clock. These actions, many students believe, have not necessarily helped the discrimination and stereotyping but rather have helped fan the flames of public opinion towards the Muslim population.
“It is media bias that really causes this uproar,” said Ryan Fujimoto, who believes that media bias has swayed public attitudes towards the Muslim population, especially after the events in Paris and San Bernardino.
“Why do we need to justify our actions every time a Muslim across the country does something?” said Rabah. “You don’t see people asking Christians about what they think whenever the Ku Klux Klan does something.”
Many students have found doing their own research on events like those which have happened in both Paris and San Bernardino, allows them to reach their own conclusions on matters relating to the people involved.
“Don’t buy into the stuff the media gives you,” said Jourdain.”You’ll get a better understanding of the situation by yourself.”
“Tragedy was the first word that came to mind,” said Ahmad when he first heard about the events.
“It is a tragedy,” said Fujimoto. “Anyone will tell you that.”