The wonderful thing about our cultural identity as Americans is that for the most part, Americans are open-minded and accepting of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
It’s fair to say that most people in this country are quick to overlook where a person came from.
Ultimately, Americans want the same things out of life and have similar interests for our children and family members.
When all things are weighed, what difference should a people’s faith or skin color make? How does their type of dress make any difference in what kind of people they are?
Why then does it seem as though a number of Americans are becoming increasingly hysterical when it comes to people of the Islamic faith?
In our post 9/11 world, many Americans have quickly made unfair associations between a relatively peaceful faith and a select group of violent individuals. Such vicious labeling has created a frenzy of fanaticism from very unstable people.
Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of four, was found brutally beaten March 21 inside her home in El Cajon.
A threatening letter was found next to her body, the exact contents of which mostly remain unknown to the public.
According to the woman’s 17-year-old daughter, the note said, “Go back to your country you terrorist.”
According to police, a similar note had been left at the residence several months prior to the incident.
Her husband, Kassim Alhimidi, is a contractor for the U.S. military. The family had moved into the neighborhood just two months prior.
In Iraq, Alawadi’s country of origin, there are factions of Al-Qaeda as well as other groups labeled as terrorist.
Being from Iraq or having Iraqi descent does not make someone a terrorist any more than being white and Christian makes someone a member of the Ku Klux Klan or a neo-Nazi.
It should be common sense, so why does it seem as though many Americans aren’t able to see it?
If the death happened because it was fueled by someone’s misguided conceptions about a woman, solely based upon her religious views and country of origin; then it should be considered a hate crime.
It would not be the first time the Muslim community has been affected by such a tragedy. Since the 9/11 attacks, many Muslim-Americans have felt tension in the United States.
About 55 percent of the Muslim population in the U.S. said their life has become harder after 9/11, in a 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center.
Even more disturbing was that in the same poll more than a quarter of the Muslim population said that a person had acted suspiciously toward them.
Such alienation between Americans is unnecessary.
There are many Islamic individuals who are just as patriotic as any other group in this country, and there’s absolutely no reason to be suspicious of them because of their faith.
If there was any doubt as to whether the vast majority of Muslims were in fact nonviolent, then it can be seen in the response of many Muslim-Americans the following Friday.
In a peaceful gathering in Santee, Shaima’s friends and loved ones held a candlelight vigil in her honor.
If anyone thinks this is an isolated incident and we have moved on post-9/11 Islamophobia, take a look at some news stories from the past few years.
In 2011, there was outrage over a planned Muslim community center that was to be built near the former site of the World Trade Center.
Those in opposition to the Islamic community center saw it as insensitive to the victims of the World Trade Towers attacks, although the creator of the community center reasonably argued that it was meant to bring people together in peace.
There was a Baptist preacher who called for an “International Burn a Koran Day” in Florida last year.
Also last year, many people in Temecula, Calif. were against a proposed mosque that posed no harm to the surrounding community.
In May 2010, a San Diego cab driver was allegedly beaten up by a man after praying in a park. Islamophobia is an extremely real problem within our society. Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce.” If people from a certain background are repeatedly being affected by threatening acts, who then becomes the terrorist?
With the brutal beating of Alawadi, that is something worth truly considering.