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Land of the free?


Editorial Board: Nooreen Moinuddin | Perspectives Editor

Claiming to be the “land of the free” and “home of the brave” is an easy thing to do. However, actions always speak louder than words. We live in a country in which we are promised the freedom to practice our religion without fear of oppression or discrimination, but that’s not always the case. During this past month, numerous accounts of religious discrimination were reported, some even resulting in injuries and death. As much as the government may do to protect certain groups from racial or religious discrimination, injustice still happens and endangers the freedom and lives of people in the one place said to be safe enough to practice their religion.

This past month was a busy news month for the country. According to ABCNews.com, on August 4th, the American Muslim Association in Hayward, California was pelted with oranges and lemons while Muslims prayed inside the local mosque. On August 5th, in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, a mosque’s sign was shattered. And at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, six people died in a shooting. On August 6th, in Joplin, Missouri, a mosque was burned down. On August 10th, air rifles were fired in a Morton Grove mosque. On August 12th, a home-made acid bomb was thrown at CPSA Islamic school in Lombard; and lastly, on August 16th, Muslim graves were vandalized in Evergreen Park. Many other religious institutions could have been targeted that the news did not even cover, and let me reiterate that all these incidents took place in one month.

The hate and discrimination that different religions are experiencing today is really disappointing, to say the least. Every religion teaches coexistence, love and understanding; those with such hate in their hearts technically should not claim to come from a certain religious belief.

While the government is attempting to take precaution against future attacks, it did the very minimal to try the people involved in the previous attacks. And that does not ease our hearts. Going to a place of worship should be a peaceful, humbling and amazing experience. For some, this has become a stressful and fearful place that people choose to skip going to. In a time of war, hate, and violence, it is faith that keeps us believing in good.

According to CNN.com, President Barack Obama told reporters, “These kinds of terrible and tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and examine additional ways that we can prevent such violence.” He also stated, “I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level is to see how we can make continued progress… It would be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people.” However, it will take a lot more than soul-searching to become a “free” nation once again.

In the end, it is not even about WHO committed these crimes and how they are punished or reprimanded. It is about praying that their hearts will find the light and praying that the ignorance and hate, not only in America, but all over the world, will one day turn into tolerance and love.