Editorial: Religious Freedom: Common Sense or Dangerous?

editorialLast week, The Signal first reported on a Georgia State teacher who asked her student to take her off her niqab, a veil that was covering her whole face except her eyes. It sounds shocking, but it’s not new news.

Last month, French officials forced a woman to take off her burkini, or full body swimsuit, in a beach near Nice, surrounding her with pepper spray and guns and leaving her with a fine. The action came after three cities in France put a ban on full body swimsuits, causing outrage from Muslim women who religiously and willingly want to have their body covered.

And before you open your mouth to blame the French on their policy, let’s cut them some slack, because we haven’t been through five terrorist attacks within the past year. People report of a different aura in Paris, the French are more uptight, more insecure, and who can blame them?

Wouldn’t you do everything you could to make sure another attack didn’t take place? And what could you do? Stop taking in immigrants? Follow Donald Trump’s example and discriminate against an entire religion? Eliminate hiding places on a person’s body by banning any excess coverage?

The truth is, ISIS militants have consecutively identified with the Muslim religion, and before every attack that’s taken place taking multiple lives at a time, terrorists have proclaimed devotion to Allah. So it’s easy to understand why the religion has been under fire, and discriminated against in the countries that have endured the most.

But here’s a tip for those who have for so long missed the memo: ISIS does not represent the Muslim religion. And not all Muslims are secret members of ISIS plotting on the next bombing. Just like not all high school shooters (and in this country, there have been more than enough), don’t represent Christianity.

But here’s another objection. Obviously people have been failing to do their research when it comes to the Muslim religion, so why don’t some kind of Muslim leaders explain the difference? Sure, the Queen of Jordan has proclaimed that ISIS doesn’t represent the religion. But that’s about all we’ve heard, along with some scattered similar New York Times articles. And for those of us with Muslim friends, they’ve tried to explain how the Qur’an can be intepreted in different ways, and those wrong – or different – understandings are what are fueling ISIS activity.
But rare announcements and student newspaper articles can’t erase an entire stigma. It’s only going to get worse from here. People are scared, and they’re badly informed. And somebody’s gotta tell us where to look, and how a deadly terrorist group could possibly be misinterpreting an entire religion.

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