As Muslims, we are constantly under social, public and media scrutiny. Often, we are accused wrongly of holding beliefs which are against the tenets of civil society. We are increasingly being condemned of crimes against humanity when millions upon millions of Muslims all over the world are peaceful, decent, freedom-loving citizens of wherever they live.
Wrong accusations and tragic outcomes are best illustrated in the case of Nashwan Uppal, a 12 year old student of a Middle School in the East Islip School District of Long Island. Nashwan was bullied by other students who accused him of being a terrorist and the school’s assistant principal even forced him to fill out a written confession. The family are now suing the school district for $25 million and Nashwan’s mother says she is not comfortable sending her son back to the same school.
Such cases are extreme and fortunately so far, rare. However, Muslim children need to be aware of the global political environment which is victimizing even innocent kids.
Usually, the rhetoric of targeting or stereotyping follows a flawed logic, which goes something like this:
Muslims are terrorists
You are Muslim
Therefore you are a terrorist
Such logic is called ‘deductive logic’ and is dependent on a premise which is treated as a fact. In this case the premise is “Muslims are terrorists”.
Let us consider another example.
Men are pedophiles
You are a man
Therefore you are a pedophile
Everyone can see that the initial premise of “Men are pedophiles” is flawed and based on opinion, not fact.
The “Muslim-as-Terrorist” rhetoric has been so often repeated and reinforced through the media and by violent killers who carry out their crimes supposedly for Islam, that it is becoming difficult for people to point out the flaw in painting all Muslims as terrorists. We need to teach our children how to politely but assertively tell their peers and teachers, that Muslims cannot be terrorists.
In our nuclear family and extended family combines, we have children of all ages, from kindergarten to university. Depending on their ages and level of understanding, we are trying to educate them about “true Islam”, a religion of peace and harmonious living, so they may embody these principles and counter the flawed narratives of the society we live in.