Watching the World from Walpole: How Terrorism Has Changed People’s Perceptions of the East


Daanya Salmanullah

world news
Following the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, the world has become especially vigilant when it comes to its Muslim inhabitants. With the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” quickly claiming responsibility for the attack, many members of the western world have developed the ideal that people from nations that terrorists stem from and those who follow the religions that terrorists claim to follow are all terrorists; however, the people of Islamic nations are more than the terrorist identities placed on them by media and the Western world.

  Now I admit that the band of countries from the Middle East into western Asia is not the safest place in the world, but it is more of a threat to itself than to the rest of the world. The countries that terrorists stem from are the ones that are most affected by these malicious groups. Worldwide, Iraq was the worst-affected country by terrorism, accounting for 34% of terrorism-related fatalities in 2013, with Afghanistan ranked next with 17.3%, and Pakistan ranked third with 13.1%. Aside from the nine most terrorist-infested countries, the rest of the world in total makes up 10% of terror attacks. America’s irrational fear of people who originate from stereotypically violent nations brings about a new problem of its own: islamophobia.

  One of the biggest causes of islamophobia is premeditated bias structured primarily off of myth and misinformation, the biggest misinformant being politics. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or neither, you should not let the assumed ideal of your political orientation define your standard on one of this generation’s most controversial topics. Currently, many prominent figures are claiming that the Islamic religion is distinctly a religion of violence. They are claiming that the Quran, the Islamic book that calls for “Mercy, Peace, and Compassion” 355 times, is asking for war. You mustn’t let these biased claims of fact guide your opinion. The Republican party specifically has developed an anti-islamic sentiment contrary to its most recognized member George W. Bush, who categorized an issue like that of ISIS explicitly just a few years ago: “We do not fight against Islam. We fight against evil. The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people. That’s not what Islam is about. Islam is peace.”

  Flight attendants deny influential women like Tahera Ahmad soda cans because of the fear that they will be   used as weapons. Police arrest inventive children like Ahmed Mohamed out of the fear that they are making bombs. The truth is that Islam is a religion that reprises the Torah and Gospels that all speak of the same God. Whether you believe in God or not, there are myriad similarities between people from stereotypically terrorist nations and those from America.

  Muslims are being dehumanized and jumbled into one large group characterized by hatred just because they have different ideals than those of western countries. People are all just people and it’s about time that we, as humans, stop discriminating against each other with useless motives. Each and every person should be held to the same standards, which call for equal categorization and punishment of any murderer or criminal unlike how it is now. If a Muslim man shoots in a public zone, the whole religion is blamed. If a Christian man shoots in a public zone, he is deemed a mentally troubled lone wolf. What happened to all men are created equal?

  Calling someone a terrorist or making fun of them because they are from a place where terror runs rampant is not going to solve any problems. In fact, insulting a whole religion of people — about 1.6 billion people, or 23% of the world’s population, to be exact — will create more problems if anything. Muslims are not all terrorists like Americans are not all in the KKK. Just because violent people are claiming to identify with a certain religion does not mean that everyone who follows that same religion believes in those same corrupt ideas. No one should be defined by someone else’s identity.

  Even though Walpole is close to a major city like Boston, it is still a small town. Because of its isolated nature, it is especially important that we remain educated members of society in order to be free of insular viewpoints like those that present these ideals of racism and islamophobia. Take the chance to learn about the lives of your Muslim peers. Learn first hand what it’s like to be them, and I am sure you will discover information that could completely alter your point of view. Read different newspapers from all around the world — there are many sides to every story. Try to find out what they are. After all, if we let our perceptions become bigoted and start attacking people because of the illusion that they are worse than us because of their beliefs or origins, we will be no better than the terrorists themselves.