On Friday, two brothers stabbed a Brooklyn man at 2:30 P.M. in the stomach for speaking in Arabic — in the very same city that over thousands of immigrants traveled to from across the globe in hopes of gaining the opportunity to chase their dreams. But now, two centuries later, one of the biggest melting pots in the world is disallowing their rightful existence.
“Why only us? Because we’re Arabic?”
18-year-old Erik Pastuizaca and 19-year-old Manuel Pastuizaca stabbed 41-year-old Said Othman as he walked along the streets of Sunset Park with his wife Samera and 8-year-old son last Thursday — unaware that he would soon be a another victim to the rising Islamophobia of our era.
“I was coming back from the school to pick up my son and my wife. We were walking and I was talking to my wife in Arabic,” Othman said, according to ABC.
Othman and his wife pick up their son from school every day and often speak in their native tongue of Arabic. This time, two teenaged brothers deemed only an American can speak in English. While on 41st street the family ran into the two teenagers, who confronted and asked, “What are you looking at?” The family tried to avoid and responded that they did not want any trouble.
Instead, the teens allegedly began to curse them. One pulled out a knife and stabbed Othman into the stomach and arm. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance for surgery and survived. Though the physical wounds are being treated, what cannot be healed is the effect the assault had on the family. Their 8-year-old son continues to ask his father, “Why only us? Because we’re Arabic?” The fear that the family now holds living in a neighborhood once deemed safe cannot be consoled; they now walk to school in groups.
This was undoubtedly a hate crime. These two teenagers did not “allegedly” stab the man who was, as any other American and any other human being, out with his family. It was not an inconsequential result of two unstable and misinformed teenagers. These wrongfully attributed claims that all Arabs are Muslims, all Muslims are Arabs and all Muslims and Arabs are terrorists, are slowly seeping into the minds of the younger generation of people — who will one day be responsible for leading our country. It disheartens me that individuals not far from my own age hold these negative perceptions of Islamophobic sentiment.
These increased shootings and stabbings have gone unreported in mainstream media. Had this been a white man out with his family, the world would have taken it up by storm. We would have received up-to-date information on what is happening to these two men and would in a matter of hours have them put them on trial. Instead, the reassurance I have that similar-minded people are not roaming around is a supposed claim that the brothers face charges including assault as a hate crime.
There are more than 50 cases in Birmingham, Detroit, Morocco and Dresden, among others, of hate upon innocent people who believe themselves to be rightful citizens. This cannot be labeled as discrimination anymore, but persecution. This stabbing happened in the United States last week, but it will happen somewhere else the following week. The only method we have of putting an end to such acts is to stop the rising sentiment of Islamophobia in the U.S. and beyond.
How many times do we have to tell you that Muslims are not terrorists? Let the statistics speak for themselves: An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims.
If we can’t do that, I guess the only other solution is for all of us to not speak in our mother tongues anymore and resort to giving up our cultures to stay safe. To ignorant people such as the two teenagers responsible for stabbing Othman — Arabic, Hindi, Farsi, maybe even Greek is all the same. As long as it does not sound English and the man speaking it looks Middle-Eastern, stab him.
The primary reason Islamophobia has not been put to an end is due to both the leaders in the United States and the mainstream media sharing the same ideals regarding Muslims in America. They are responsible for instilling fear in the hearts of Americans against their Muslim neighbors.
Every Muslim is thought to be a fundamentalist, an extremist, a terrorist, a jihadist — an exaggerated terror threat and menace symbolized by the general response of the entire American public. These two teenagers believed the prevailing narrative. This fear-mongering works because of the other-ing of the marginalized and the feeling of superiority held by the public over their Muslim counterparts. This country was founded upon a great mission to ensure religious freedom for all. If our current leaders cannot ensure that for each and every citizen, are we still the great country of America?
Image: New York Daily News