Picture this: You wake up in the morning to hear your wife screaming at you because it's pouring rain outside. She hates the rain and now her day is ruined because of you. You go downstairs only to hear your children yell at you because they broke the toaster. They can't have waffles now and it's all your fault. On the way to work, you stop and fill up gas only to hear everyone at the gas station curse you out because gas prices have risen. You arrive at work only to see all your coworkers gathered around your desk demanding that you apologize for the printer being jammed. On the way home from work, everyone on the highway screams at you because they are upset with the rush hour traffic.
Quite a ridiculous scenario, right? Can you imagine always being blamed for things that you have absolutely no control over? Can you imagine always being asked to apologize for these things? Can you imagine being hated whether or not you do apologize? This is what being a Muslim in America today feels like.
I am a proud American, raised in Texas. I'm a college student. I'm a humanitarian. I'm an aspiring physician. I'm someone who hopes to revolutionize access to medicine and healthcare in the United States and in war-torn countries across the world. I also am a M-u-s-l-i-m, one of over 1.6 billion who are blamed whenever an act of terrorism occurs as if we are nothing more than this 6-letter word hijacked by those who wrongly use our religion to justify their heinous crimes.
As a Muslim American who continually strives to do everything I can for the betterment of my community and this nation, I am tired of being asked to apologize and condemn terrorism that I have absolutely nothing to do with.
Here Are Five Reasons Why Muslims Should Never Have To Apologize for Terrorism:
1) It's ridiculous to ask us to apologize.
As a practicing Muslim, I know that my religion teaches peace. I am so certain of this fact that I will award anyone $10,000 if they can find me a verse in the Quran that says it's ok to kill innocent people or to commit acts of terror. This is an open offer that will never expire.
I also know that Muslims, as a religious group, are not terrorists. I have factually proved this. I also have factually proved that you are more likely to be struck by lightening, crushed to death by a couch, or killed by a toddler, than to be killed by a Muslim.
This being said, why should I have to apologize for a violence that I have no connection to? A violence my religion blatantly stands against.
Ask yourself: Should car manufacturers have to apologize when drunk drivers kill people using their vehicles? Should you be required to apologize to the police if your sibling gets a speeding ticket because you share the same last name? Should every single gun owner in America have to apologize whenever someone is killed by a firearm? Should weathermen have to apologize for cloudy days? Should pharmacists have to apologize for your allergies? Should I have to apologize for the typos of another writer?
Unless you can find that $10,000 verse or unless you blatantly hear a Muslim explicitly supporting terrorism, please understand that asking us, both individually and collectively, to apologize for terrorism would be just as ridiculous as the questions above.
2) It should be obvious by now that Muslims condemn terrorism.
By now, it should be very clear that Muslims condemn terrorism. All it takes is a simple Google search of any terrorist attack to find the plethora of Muslims publicly condemning it. Try it out. For example, here areover 40 examples of Muslims condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks. And here is an example of how Muslims all across the world condemned the Paris attacks.
Muslims condemn terrorism, we always have. This is a fact. And just as I shouldn't have to reassure you each morning that the sky is still blue, Muslims should not have to reassure you that we still condemn terrorism every single time a terrorist attack occurs.
And frankly, if you don't already believe that Muslims condemn terrorism by now, then no apology or repeated broken-record condemnation from any Muslim or Muslim organization will help cure your intolerant hatred.
3) Muslims are at the very forefront of combating terrorism.
The only thing more ridiculous than asking people to apologize for something they have no connection to is to make people apologize for something they are working so hard to combat.
Muslims want to defeat terrorism just as much as any other American, if not more. This is why we have Muslim women like Niloofar Rahmaniand Kubra Khademi who are at the very frontlines fighting terrorists. This is why millions of Muslim youth are taking a stand against ISIS. This is why tons of Muslim groups and scholars repeatedly issue statements condemning ISIS, many even being beheaded by ISIS for doing so.
This is why more than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined together to write an open letter to ISIS, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using Islamic terms. This is why Muslims are being killed by ISIS for publicly opposing this terrorist group's persecution of Christians.
For the same reasons that firemen don't apologize for fires and doctors don't apologize for heart disease, Muslims should not be expected or asked to apologize for something they are working so hard to combat.
4) Muslims are the largest victims of terrorism.
According to the Counter Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Al-Qaeda kills over seven times more Muslims than non-Muslims. According to the UN, Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS. According to the State Department, Muslims are the largest victims of terrorism in general. No matter where you look, you will find that the strongest association between Muslims and terrorism is one in which Muslims are victims of it.
There is a sad irony in how Muslims are the largest victims of terrorism yet also receive the most hatred for it. Just as it would be wrong to blame African Americans for slavery, starving children for world hunger, and toddlers for school shootings, it is equally wrong to blame Muslims for terrorism when we are always the victims of it.
Want me to call the leader of ISIS and tell him to stop committing terror? Give me his contact information; I'd be happy to. Any Muslim would. But just know that the conversation would begin with us, ISIS's largest victims, telling him to stop hijacking our religion to justify killing Muslims who actually follow it.
5) If we have to apologize for terrorism, then so should everyone else.
This last point is especially important. Why are Muslims the only group that are required to apologize for and condemn the actions of criminals that associate with their group?
To put things into perspective, ask yourself: Why aren't all white males asked to apologize for the slavery that white males endorsed less than two centuries ago? The slavery in which one third of slaves were Muslims. Why aren't all Buddhists asked to apologize for the radical Buddhist monks in Mynammar that are violently attacking Muslims? Why aren't all policemen asked to apologize for the racist cops that are dropping the bodies of unarmed blacks like leaves in the autumn?
You must understand that just as you are detached from the heinous crimes mentioned above, I am just as detached from the terrorism that so many keep trying to link me with for no other reason than me being a Muslim.
You must understand that by asking me whether I condemn terrorism, you are questioning my humanity.
Follow Omar Alnatour on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WeTeachLifeSir_