Islamophobia shuts doors for Syrian refugees

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

By Marwa Benahmed-Ali

One early Saturday morning I was waiting in line at the market to pay for my groceries. An older couple standing in front of me was making fun of every customer that passed by.

A Pakistani girl, with whom I went to Islamic Sunday school, walked towards me and said hello. She was wearing a traditional Pakistani Sari and a beautiful hijab to cover her hair.

The man in front of me turned around and gave her a dirty look. He mumbled rude remarks under his breath and looked at her from head to toe as she walked away.

I spoke Arabic to get his attention and he also gave me a dirty look in return. I could tell from his eyes that he profoundly disliked foreigners, especially Muslims.

I never experienced such discrimination like I did on that Saturday morning. Yet, as a Muslim-American, I knew that discrimination against my people was profound.

Muslims have faced an abundance of discrimination since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The horrific actions of several al- Qaeda terrorists have created a stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists.

Islamophobia, which means prejudice against Islam or Muslims, is at its peak since the Paris attacks on Nov. 13.

Islamic extremist group ISIS, who has claimed responsibility for the attacks, killed 129 people and left hundreds more wounded.

The Paris attacks have left a trail of fear in Europe and the United States, but Syrian refugees are currently being feared the most. European countries and the United States fear ISIS members are disguised as refugees.

Since 2011, the war in Syria has grown intense. Eleven million refugees have fled Syria and 6.5 million are still internally displaced.


According to a chart from the UN Refugee Agency, 79 percent of Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Europe, and 16 percent in Canada and the United States. Those percentages will soon decline because countries are saying no to refugees.

The United States has vowed to accept 10,000 refugees in the next year, but after the Paris attacks, many Republican states have refused the acceptance of refugees.

Thirty-one states have vowed to not accept refugees, which means more than half of the country is not in solidarity with innocent people who are fleeing from terror.

According to UNHCR, political stability in Syria is almost impossible. Explosions are destroying homes and killing innocent civilians.

Syrians who are internally displaced do not have running water, electricity, or food. Refugee camps in neighboring countries are running out of food, according to World Vision.

Obviously, the situation for refugees is grim. Now neighboring countries and the European Union are struggling to manage the crisis and have started to say no to refugees.

Around 2,000 refugees have been granted acceptance in the United States since 2011, yet Republicans are doing their best to keep additional refugees out.

Ridiculous Republican rhetoric has deemed refugees as a threat to the safety of the United States.

Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner stated that Obama “stands for ISIS” by fighting Republicans on refugees.

Although there is a possibility that some refugees could be terrorists, refugees in the United States have not organized attacks. Appropriate security measures can be made to avoid possible attacks, but saying no to refugees is not the solution.

Ten thousand refugees could be saved from their misery; instead, they are victimized by Islamophobia.

Republicans are violating the core values of the United States by neglecting Syrians who have an outstanding need for refuge. American citizens should consider voicing their opinion by speaking to local representatives and signing petitions to bring refugees to the states.

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