American’s fourth estate, the press, is one of the most influential game-changers in US living rooms. As an undergrad who majored in marketing and PR, I was always fascinated with the public’s information intake and subsequent behavior change based on that information.
Terror. Violence. Hatred.
These are the first words that cross an average American’s mind when they hear the word “Islam”. It has been almost ten years since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York. The status of Muslims in the West took an immediate twist since then.
Looking back on American history, there has always been one race, religion, or culture that was discriminated against. In the beginning, it was the Native Americans, who were forced to leave their land. Then, in the 1800s, it was the Irish, isolated from society and forced to stay unemployed. Not long after, African-Americans were lynched solely because of their skin color. Today, it is the Muslims, being prejudiced in a country they believed would grant them freedom and opportunities.
I want to be a journalist for many reasons, but before we jump into the reasons why, let me share with you the first moment I was given the hint of having a career in this field. I remember clearly even today, I used to read the Fun Times, children’s newspaper in Saudi Arabia. In one of their issues they had given examples of few careers for children to ponder about and one of them was journalist. Without a second thought I laid my finger on it and screamed confidently, “that’s what I want to be!”
Cameras, notebooks, pens and tape recorders signify the world of journalism. There’s only one catch, I’m Muslim.
It was the morning of September 11, 2001. Hijackers overtook a commercial plane and smashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. As the world watched the building diminish and burn to the ground, a second airplane collided into the south tower like a guided missile in a war zone. It took two hours and the World Trade Center was no more. The attacks of September 11th would be remembered forever as the worst attack on U.S. soil. The World Trade Center would never be the same again. The United States would never be the same again. The world would never be the same again. Islam would never be the same again.
Living in America, there is much confusion to Muslim Americans as to how their relationship should be to Muslim communities around the world. Many don’t want to seem disloyal to their country by supporting Muslims elsewhere more than their own communities. And perhaps many just don’t know how they should relate to the Muslim World, or what they should do exactly
My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims' pride, From every mountainside
Let freedom ring!
That one noun sends a myriad of opinions from every end of the spectrum. We are seen as the most holy and devout of people and as the most devious and murderous of people. The words of our holy book are distorted. The actions of the few radicals and extremists take the name of our dear religion, misguiding the world of what we truly believe.