The Texas Mosque Fire was an attack on the Muslim community

Image: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/01/30/us/xp-mosque/31xp-mosque2-master768.jpg

On January 28, 2017, the Islamic Center of Victoria was destroyed intentionally by a massive fire, which was unleashed on the mosque. Less than three weeks after another mosque Islamic Center of Lake Travis had suffered the same fate.

When the story first arose, the media didn’t portray the burning of the mosque as a terrorist attack but rather as an incident that still had to be investigated. As defined on Merriam Webster a terrorist can be defined as “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” After extensive investigating the media finally released an announcement that the fire that had burnt down the mosque was “arson” meaning that it was a criminal act of deliberately setting fire to the property. The media when “covering” this topic failed to report that the fire was an attack on the Islamic community. It was very interesting seeing that most the headlines that I found on the attack were masked by the “community” coming together and raising money for the damages caused by another. Although it is great that the community came together to show support to the Muslim community it is unfortunate that the media did not address the bigger picture, the bigger picture being that the burning of the mosques was done intentionally specifically aimed towards Muslims.

Coverages like the ones I found, that are intended to inform the public do more harm than good. Specifically when the media masks the intended news story headline with another headline taking away the spotlight of the real issue at hand. In general the articles that I read showed many media outlets included in their headlines “the community came together to raise money for the mosques”. The burned down mosque was more than just a building being burnt down, it was an attack, a statement directed towards the Muslim community causing many to fear whether they are safe “in the land of the free”.

The fact of the matter is that, the way in which media covers incidents that are directed towards Muslims differ as to the way in which Muslims villain covered. Through extensive research I have found that the way in which the media has been portraying Muslims over the years has had a sever effect on the Muslim community particularly when there is a direct attack towards the community. Since 9/11 islamophobia has nearly tripled in the amount of hate crimes that have been aimed towards people of Islamic decent. The media rather than doing good for the Muslim community is doing harm.

I conducted an interview with a woman who came to America as a refugee 9 years ago, she explained in specifics, as to the reasons as to why she converted religions. Also she explains the reasons for which she’s not very public of her Islamic origins.

Janet Labrela converted to Christianity about 5 years ago for many reason, the major reason as to why she converted to Christianity was based on how the United States seemed to view people who are Muslim. Everyone reads and watches the media and they correlate the terrible things that radical “Muslims” do to the whole community of Muslims.

When Janet first came to America in 2007 as a Muslim woman she wore her hijab everyday till she no longer felt comfortable wearing it. She felt that people were looking at her differently and making assumptions that she was a bad person. Janet says “For Muslims, today it’s hard. I think many people think we are like ISIS but it’s simply not true they don’t represent the Muslim community. It’s scary to see how much hate the Muslim community has to endure especially when the religion of Islam is a religion of peace.”

Janet stated “As a Muslim woman, it was difficult for me when I first came to America, especially when I tried looking for jobs. I felt that when people first looked at me they thought I was one of the bad guys which is why for that reasons stopped wearing my Hijab. I needed to find a job and for the very first time I felt free enough to not wear a hijab. I honestly could never imagine going back to Syria especially right now things are probably worse than when I left.”

Janet came to America as refugee with her daughter leaving her husband. “In my homeland my husband and I own a furniture store we were quiet well off, I was financially stable having a steady income. Although as of right now I am working a little over minimum wage, pay check to pay check. I’m much happier here in America. I feel free.”

I asked Janet if she would consider going back to Syria? “Well as of right now I don’t want to, I really want to become a US citizen and if I were to go back my husband would be able to make me stay since he’s allowed to. I don’t want to risk it. I have two of my siblings and my daughter here in America with me I’m perfectly happy.”

When I asked Janet why she converted to Christianity she said “Well I’m in America now and I didn’t fell right being a Muslim. But I still believe in Allah he’s the same god that most religions worship it’s just in a different language. I have found peace with being a Christian I go to church often and I’m happy with who I am and as to how people see me now.

Interviewing Janet was interesting not just because of what she had to say but because of the fact that I’ve known her for over three years. In those three years she had never spoken about being Muslim or of the hardships she faced in Syria. When hearing Janet’s story as too why she stopped wearing her Hijab it became evident of the reason as to why she stopped wearing her Hijab. It was because of the way the public saw her. The media has portrayed Muslims as to being terrorist causing many people to fear Muslims simply for the bases of their looks and their religion causing people like Janet to change the way she dresses. Janet also changed her religion practices on the bases of how the society viewed her as a Muslim.

When looking through media sources it was evident as to how the media portrays Muslims versus any other group. When an incident occurs such as hate crimes toward the Muslim community there is much less coverage on the incident versus when a “Muslim” commits a terrorist attack. The media jumps to conclusions saying that the assaulter is somehow related to the Muslim community and Isis. The media of all things is to blame for the high rise of islamophobia and as for reasons as to why Janet and others feel the need to change.

Works Cited

Chappell, Bill. “Donations To Burned Texas Mosque Top $1 Million In Outpouring Of Support.” NPR. NPR, 01 Feb. 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Hauser, Christine. “Texas Mosque Gutted by Mysterious Blaze Raises More Than $900,000 to Rebuild.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

John, Tara. “Texas Mosque Fire: People Raise Thousands for Repairs.” Time. Time, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Julie Garcia, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times. “Texas Mosque Fire ‘too Close to Home’.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Ktrk. “Victoria Mosque Destroyed in Early-morning Blaze.” ABC13 Houston. N.p., 28 Jan. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

Larimer, Sarah. “A Fire Destroyed This Texas Mosque. Thousands Have Chipped in to Help Rebuild It.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Mansoor, Sanya. “Two Texas Mosques Burned to the Ground This Month.” The Texas Tribune. Become One, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Press, Associated. “Fire Destroys Texas Mosque Earlier Targeted by Hatred and Burglary.” Arab News. Arabnews, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

Sachetta, Justin GlaweRyan. “GOP Silence as Mosques Burn and Bleed.” The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Company, 04 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Thisisfusion. “Young Muslim Americans React to Islamophobia.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.

Wilcox, Jon. “400 Attend Prayer Rally at Destroyed Mosque (w/video) — Victoria Advocate.” Victoria Advocate — Victoria, TX. VA, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

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