Understandable Fear Spawns Unjustified Ignorance: ISIS Further Stigmatizes Muslim Americans

The actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS have been a trending topic amongst most major media outlets. Though the Islamic extremist group has existed since as early as 2003, its actions have severely intensified upon its acquisition of land in western Iraq. The self-proclaimed caliphate or believed successor of Muhammad utilizes social networking as a means of spreading fear. Its heinous acts such as the public beheading of two American journalists have been perpetuated through viral, online videos. These utmost acts of barbarism have undoubtedly left Americans fearful, and for some Americans, fearfully ignorant.

“Since ISIS has started, a negative stigma towards Muslim Americans has emerged,” said junior Isha Rauf.

The anti-Muslim agenda, stemming from the 9/11 attacks, has evolved as a result of ISIS, and Isha, who is a Muslim American, has noticed this growing distaste herself. Fox News has been one of several conservative news sources that have controversially commented on the ISIS situation.

“They have been doing this for hundreds of years…solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand,” said Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros on August 20, 2014.

Besides Tantaros disregarding the bloody history of nearly every other religion and the various wars they have started, she brands Muslims as a whole, enabling an extremist group to represent all Muslims entirely. Many Muslims disagree.


“My parents have been in this country since before 9/11 so they have literally experienced it all,” Isha explained. “For them, it’s just another thing to add to the list, grieving as Americans while also as Muslims for the negative stigma. There’s nothing you can do,” she said.

According to Isha as well as the doctrine of the Koran, Islam translates to peace. By definition, ISIS does not follow Islam, which promotes peaceful worship. This underlying truth is what separates ISIS from other Muslims. The group, being eager to gain control, has seized parts of both Syria and Iraq. This yearning for supremacy, however, is not supported by the religion they claim to support, leaving true Muslims distraught.


“Since ISIS has used social networking as a major source of recruitment, my parents do not allow my siblings and me on social networking. Somewhere or somehow, they worry someone will start recruiting kids in the area using threats and coercion,” Isha said.

So What?

Muslim Americans fear the threat ISIS poses while also fearing stigmatization and even recruitment. Rather than banding together in times of peril as Americans, Muslim Americans are being ostracized. Fear does not justify ostracism, and ignorance does not justify fear. There is a distinct difference between a savage extremist group and an organized religious sect. Do you know the difference?