Column: This isn’t about politics

I clicked on Huffington Post’s home page Monday morning. Instead of a gallery of popular news, there was one very large photo of our president, with the title “CHAOS REIGNS” above it. Below it, multiple hyperlinks were put together into this paragraph:  “AMERICA ON THE BRINK … White House Defies Court Order … Detentions Continue Despite Emergency Stay … Booker: ‘The Executive Branch Is Not Abiding By The Law’ … Democrats Call For Investigation … Massive Rallies Around The Country … Airports Swarmed By Protesters … And It’s Only Week 2 Of His Presidency …”

This is a column I honestly kept putting off writing because it’s a reality that I don’t really want to accept. It is Jan. 30, 2017. Right now, the trending hashtags are “#NoBanNoWall” and “#QuebecShooting” and “#ReasonsToProtest.”

I am so upset because we are making everything about politics. We aren’t understanding that the things happening right here, right now, are killing people. The executive orders that are being passed are tearing apart, and killing, families. We have let everything go down to politics. Where is the empathy? Where is this understanding and compassion for humanity?

Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed “Karl Marx of the Alt Right,” tweeted right after the attack on a Quebec mosque yesterday.

“Why are there mosques in Quebec City, one of North America’s most beautiful cities?”

“We need an effort across N. America and Europe to help Muslims reconnect w/ their roots and families. Yes, Muhammad, you can go home again.”

Six people are dead. Eight people are injured. But, instead of tweeting any sort of condolence for anyone involved, he wanted to know why a mosque was in Quebec City. He doesn’t see these people as lives — he sees them as statistics to help prove his point. He tweeted that the night of a deadly mass shooting. Innocent people lost their lives in a place they thought was safe for worship, and that was his response.

All for what? All for politics. We’re doing everything for politics.

My father, Hamid, is a Muslim immigrant who grew up in Algeris, Algeria. He played soccer, went to school to learn English, then made his way into the United States to play soccer for the University of Southern California as he began his journey on becoming a
petroleum engineer.

He came to the United States alone, to make a better life for himself. He left his family behind for opportunity in the melting pot of the world — the United States.

He is an American citizen.

My mother, Betty, grew up Pentecostal in Chelyan, West Virginia. She had never left the United States before she met my father.

Those are the two important people in my life — Betty and Hamid. The fact that people would see one of them as having more worth than the other because of the color of their skin and their religious background disgusts me. The fact that my family is divided because of ethnicity disgusts me. Knowing that if push-came-to-shove, my mother’s side of the family would be favored over my father’s side of the family, all because they practice Christianity, disgusts me. They are ALL MY FAMILY and they should all be treated equally. WE ARE ALL PEOPLE AND WE SHOULD ALL BE TREATED EQUALLY.

It’s not about religion.

It’s about lives.

It’s about the guy who’s leaving his family to come to the United States, horrified, worried about his English, hoping to make a better life for himself.

It’s about the family who’s trying to survive, coming to the United States — scared, but hopeful, and being denied entrance.

It’s about the guy waiting for his brother at the airport, realizing he’s not coming back. He’s not allowed to come back.

It’s about the woman who’s telling her child not to wear a hijab because she doesn’t want her child to be a target for hate crimes.

It’s about the little boy named Muhammad who gets embarrassed of his name every time his teacher calls role because of the negative associations it’s been given in mockery.

It’s about the little girl, fasting for the first time, being made fun of at the lunch table and being called a terrorist.

It’s not about religion. It’s not about politics. You don’t have to be religious to not be a horrible person. You don’t have to be political to realize that we are ruining lives and families.

“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Quran, Surat al-Ma’ida, 48)

This is a quote from the Quran that states God created humankind and he created a humankind that is diverse and that people of all races and all religions should be welcomed with open arms and the only competition that we should acknowledge is the competition to do good.

God. The universal God. Allah is an Arabic translation for the word “God.” What’s the difference in these two words: “hola” and “hello?” They both mean the same thing, but one is translated in a different language. Muslims don’t believe in some made-up God that is evil and corrupt, so when you mock “Allahu Akbar” you are mocking the phrase “God is the greatest.”

In March 2016, Pope Francis washed the feet of Muslim refugees and stated that “we are children of the same God.”

Being a Muslim in America is horrifying. It’s a fear I wouldn’t project on anyone. Fear of your faith … fear of who you are … I was born in America. I grew up in America. I am American and I am this scared. Imagine how others feel.

I have been discriminated against my entire life. Me, a half-white, English speaking, American-born Muslim, has been discriminated against her entire life. I have had teachers tell me I’m going to hell. I have been the target of many, many terrorist jokes. I have spent so much time trying to explain to people that religion doesn’t make bad people bad — bad people are bad and then they blame it on their religion.

There are bad Muslims, sure. There are bad Christians. There are bad Jews. There are bad Atheists.

But, there are good Muslims. There are good Christians. There are good Jews. There are good Atheists.

Stop making it about religion. Stop deciding you hate — or love — someone because of their religion.

Wake up. Protest. Speak up. Do something. I feel like everything I love and stand for is being threatened — my religion, Islam. My passion, journalism. My home, America.

Last night, I donated and became a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. I needed to feel like I was doing something. ACLU’s donations have taken off, leaving them to raise more money in one weekend than they did the entire year of 2016. They sued President Donald Trump and blocked his Unconstitutional Muslim Ban. If there’s one thing I want to tell everyone right now — especially minorities, know your rights. Dissent is patriotic.

“God does not love corruption.” (Quran, Surat al-Baqara, 205)

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].