A recent report shows there were 85 deadly attacks spanning between 2001 and 2016. Contrary to the popular belief that they were predominantly carried out by “Islamic extremists,” most were carried out by far-right extremists.
The reasons behind the lack of media coverage are many, but the core reason appears to be the tendency to label any act done by a Muslim as “terrorism,” while any act carried by a White man with an assault rifle is the result of a lone wolf suffering from mental illness.
Even President Trump, who rushed to condemn the attack in NYC on Tuesday, was criticized for taking longer to condemn White nationalists in comparison to radical Islam terrorist attacks. This is not new to the Muslim community, though. Double standards on terrorism exist: Brown or Muslim is a terrorist; White and non-Muslim is a lone wolf with mental illness.
On Tuesday, Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov committed NYC’s deadliest attack since 9/11, killing eight people by driving into a crowd off of the West Side Highway. New Yorkers and people all over the world were left mourning. Many took to blaming Islam for Sapiov’s decision as he had alleged ties to ISIS.
The thought process of many Muslims was similar to that of Zaid Nagi: “Please, don’t let them be Muslim.” Because as a Muslim, you know if the attack was perpetrated by someone who claims Islam, the media is going to explode and Muslims are going to face the backlash.
Nagi, as well as others, know that when an attacker is Muslim, the lives of Muslims and the Muslim community is bound to get harder. “They look like us, the sound like us, but they do not represent us.” On Wednesday evening, Nagi was among the 200 New Yorkers who took to the streets to participate in a vigil for the lives lost. Religious leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu communities arranged the vigil to promote peace and solidarity for all in wake of the attacks.
While some promoted peace and solidarity, others took to blaming all Muslims for the attack. Laura Loomer, a journalist who was recently banned from Uber and Lyft for her anti-Muslim tweets, write alongside pictures of women wearing hijab:
She also tweeted:
Many rose to the occasion and defended Islam and condemned her remarks, including Gigi Hadid, who tweeted:
As a Muslim woman who wears hijab, I have to say that this kind of blatant hate speech against Muslims instills a sense of fear for those of us who wear the headscarf and walk the streets of NYC, despite the fact that my city has always been a shining example of diversity.
On the other hand, attending peace vigils and an interfaith prayer on Friday showed me that New Yorkers will not stand for condemning a whole religion for the actions of a single man. Afaf Nasher, Executive Director of CAIR-NY said it best: “We defy the evil that thrives in discord and disunity.” He went on to say, “Everyone, as persons of faith, compassion and morality, shares a basic belief that life is sacred, and called to serve our fellow human beings with love.”