“Shut up you A-rab” are words I will never forget.  Those sharp words directed at my friend were my first direct encounter with racism; at the age of twelve.  And at that moment, I did not understand why that boy said that, or why he put such harsh emphasis on the letter “A.”  But now I realize that it was nothing compared to what I was going to see and hear as I entered junior high.  The world was not as friendly as elementary school, and the image of the 1.7 billion people of the religion of Islam was labeled under one image: terrorist.  Including me.  Because of this, the 1.7 billion Muslims who are against terrorism get blamed.  So I ask you, what is terrorism to a Muslim?

Somewhere in America there is a Muslim mother who may be German, English, Pakistani, Arab, Malaysian, or any other race, who wears a headscarf.  At home she takes special care of her kids, hugs and kisses her kids, and loves her kids so much like any other mother.  She helps her kids in any way she possibly can, and prays that they will grow up to be successful people who are good to their families and benefit society.  Her kids look at her like she is the kindest and sweetest person ever.  But when she puts on her headscarf and walks out of her home, slightly worried, she is immediately looked at independent from her personality or traits, and is observed as not a mother, not a caregiver, but a radical, a terrorist.  She is not the only Muslim American woman who gets treated this way.  In fact, she is one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim American mothers who feel this way.  They live this way all because of an extremely small minority of people amongst not their family, not their country, and not even their race, but an extremely small minority out of the almost two billion people of their religion.  If a person’s mother, father, brother or sister committed murder, we would not call the relative of the murderer a murderer, too.  But if a group of radical terrorists on the other side of the world that has nothing to do with me or what I believe in, commit terrorism, I, too, am labeled a terrorist.  This is not justice, this is not liberty and this is not the foundation on which America was created and lives upon.  I challenge every person who loves their mother to imagine her with a headscarf on and tell me she is a terrorist.  The word terrorist has ruined the lives of millions of innocent Muslims around the world, and they cannot do anything to remove that label as long as ignorance still prevails.

Muslims every day are discriminated against because of things that are not in their control.  It is not fair for one to be blamed for bad weather in Chicago, the same way it is not fair for a Muslim to be blamed for radical terrorism on the other side of the world.  Both are out of the control of the person.  The world is angry at Muslims while many Muslims are scared of the world.  There are old ladies who wear the headscarf who are scared to leave their house because they think they will be harmed by someone who thinks they are a terrorist.  Innocent Muslims are getting threatened all across America.  Just last year three young Muslim Americans, two of them who had just gotten married, who were good citizens and helped their community, were murdered execution style.  Not because they did a horrible act or got someone angry, but because of the religion they practice.  This has surely gone on long enough.  Muslims have been plagued by this word.  

Terrorism is a horrible issue that needs to be fixed.  It is an issue that takes thousands of lives every year.  Using the word terrorism is not an excuse to hurt and accuse people.  Muslims around the world should not have to feel like they’re being glared at anytime the words ISIS, 9/11, or terrorist is used.  Terrorism is something that all people should hate and not use it TO hate.  Instead of blaming people, we should work together as humanity to end this issue.  There are no such things as Muslim terrorism, Christian terrorism, or Jewish terrorism.  Terrorism is terrorism and it is something that we the people must end.

By Kyse Zorab