Civil rights movements of the past should instruct Muslims

Mubarrat Choudhury

Negative rhetoric against particular minorities has been a marker for darker times in history. The rise in attacks have resulted in a dangerous environment for Muslim-Americans, driving the need for the Muslim-Americans to organize in order to combat growing Islamophobia.

Since the tragedy of Sept. 11, a recent Gallup poll indicated that Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslim-Americans have risen.  As the number of Muslim communities rise, making Islam the second most practiced religion in Texas, our state alone has seen quite a number of recent attacks against several Muslim communities. From an Iraqi refugee being murdered in Dallas, to a vandalized mosque in Pflugerville, to a man pointing a gun at two Muslim women right here in Austin, the red state of Texas has increased its marginalization of Muslim-Americans. Adam Hamze, journalist at the Houston Chronicle, writes about the growing hostility against Muslim Texans.

“With anti-Muslim political rhetoric growing in the aftermath of terrorist attacks overseas and in San Bernardino, some Muslims say they are living in fear,” Hamze said. “Across Texas, worshipers at mosques say they have been threatened and targeted by increasing hatred that has them guarding their every movement.”

 Last week, three young men from a predominantly Muslim diaspora community, two of whom were Muslim, were shot execution-style a few blocks from Indiana Tech. This prompted the social media movement #OurThreeBrothers and several campus vigils across the country, including at The University of Texas at Austin. These vigils were organized in order to call attention to the violence and to come together in solidarity — not only against the murders, but also the growing hatred toward Muslim-Americans in the United States.

 The rise in Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims parallels the various civil rights movements of the 1960s. Rising rhetoric antithetical to expanding the rights of minorities prompted a number of left-leaning movements, a majority of which spread across college campuses. The treatment of Muslims today parallels the treatment of African-Americans then.

College students ought to engage in actions similar to those of their predecessors and stand in solidarity on the right side of history. Jessica Mendoza, staff writer at the Christian Science Monitor, writes that the rise of Islamophobia will prompt the next student protest movement.

 “While it’s too early to characterize it as a national protest movement, Muslim students from coast to coast are joining in solidarity with minority activists protesting racism on campus,” Mendoza said. “When it comes to the issue of Islamophobia, so far, the students seem to prefer education and outreach to full-scale demonstrations and calls for the ouster of professors or administration officials.”

 The various campus vigils held across the nation’s college campuses need to transform into a more organized movement in order to fight against anti-Muslim sentiment. Unlike the civil rights movement in the 1960s, these new age movements are meant to change negative cultural perceptions of minorities instead of unequal laws.

Recent movements like “Black Lives Matter” were created in order to address and defeat the systemic bias against black Americans. The same type of movement must be adopted by Muslim-Americans and used in order to increase the awareness of hate crimes and quash Islamophobia.

Choudhury is an economics freshman from Dallas. Follow him on Twitter @Mubarratc.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its initial publication to reflect the religions of the three young men killed near the Indiana Tech campus last week. It has also been updated to reflect the location of the killing a few blocks away from the Indiana Tech campus.