“If everyone knew what Islam really was, there would be no Islamophobia.”

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A Response to A Letter to the Editor: Are Legitimate Concerns to be Dismissed as “Islamophonia?”

Written by Sarah A’idah Defilippo

In response to the letter to the editor, I’d like to raise a few of my own legitimate concerns.

I am legitimately concerned that one day, I will be locked out of this country, that a brother of mine will be targeted and scapegoated like Ahmed Ferhani was. I am legitimately concerned that society will fail to become inclusive, and that people will, in perpetuity, equate being Muslim with being violent, sexist, racist, or homophobic. I have a fear of what Islamophobia will do to our country, while the more prevalent fear seems to be simply of Islam and of Muslims—where did they come from? Do they really want to kill me just because I’m not Muslim?

But before I go off into the Crusades and the statistics of whom Muslim extremist terrorists really kill, I must ask: if Muslims believe that God himself dedicated an entire chapter of the Qur’an to “The Disbelievers,” people who don’t believe in Islam, or—as many critics like to say—”infidels,” in a book meant for the establishment of peace and justice on earth, the lesson at the end of that chapter being: “for you is your religion, and for me is my religion,” how is it justified to say that Islam is a religion of compulsion and obligation? The establishment, rise, and criminal history of DAESH/ISIS are anything but Islamic—and if that seems unreal, just look up the Letter to Baghdadi.

And while Americans worry about Islam and invasion, we forget about the havoc that our government and our army have wreaked on the outside world. We selectively forget the history of winner-take-all capitalism that destroyed tens of other economies and, yes, brought many of us here in search of opportunity. Yet one, or maybe even two, diasporas later, we stand here facing the threat that our blood may flow into the rivers of milk and honey that we dreamed of.

To think democracy and civil liberties are at stake are quite crippling fears, and the rush with which they come about certainly do not make it easier to fight against them. It’s so easy to forget to ask yourself what the other side is, to really touch base with your conscience, and to ask, “does this make sense?” Fear may be innate, but it is not always justified.

Our pursuance of deconstructing Islamophobia is not a dismissal of your fears, but an indictment of what they really are: a sad ignorance. More importantly, it is an invitation for everyone to remove the wool from over their eyes and see because if everyone knew what Islam really was, there would be no Islamophobia.