Presidential campaigns fueling ethnic tensions

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In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium, along with the start of a presidential campaign marked by racial hate speech, violence against Muslims in America has risen.

Beginning specifically in July 2015, a number of candidates, most notably Donald Trump, have included Islamo-phobic language in speeches.

Instead of focusing attention on strategies to end violent extremism, these candidates indiscriminately indicated all Muslims were a threat to America.

“During the course of 2015, there were approximately 174 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism, including: 12 murders; 29 physical assaults; 50 threats against persons or institutions; 54 acts of vandalism or destruction of property; 8 arsons; and 9 shootings or bombings, among other incidents,” according to a new study compiled by Georgetown University’s Bridge
Initiative’s Team.

Although our political leaders are potentially capable of contributing to an atmosphere of dangerous hostility, they are also capable of encouraging cooperation and good will.

“Muslim Americans are our friends and neighbors, our coworkers, our sports heroes, and yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that,” said President Barack Obama in an Oval Office address.

There are numerous Muslim students currently enrolled at Delta.

They come from many different countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, and more. While some have been American citizens for multiple generations, some families are newer arrivals.
A number of these families immigrated to America because of unsafe conditions in their homeland due to the spread of war.

Some of these students, especially women, must wrestle with the decision whether or not to wear their traditional forms of dress.

“Once, while my sister and I were walking in the mall, a man shouted angrily at us to ‘Go back to Islam!” said, student Samirah Gaber. “My sister is younger than me, but she’s brave. She wears the head-scarf, while I choose to dress in a more Western style. If there wasn’t such an anti-Islamic attitude, I would choose to dress more traditionally.”

Several students interviewed for this story didn’t want to publicly share their opinions because they were afraid of possible repercussions.

San Joaquin Delta College is an institute of higher learning and education that has a culturally diverse student population.

Edward Aguilar, the new manager of the Office of Student Equity and Diversity is available for students who may have ideas about initiatives and activities that support multi-cultural inclusion. Students can visit his office at SCMA 254 to talk about issues of racial discrimination or cultural insensitivity they may encounter.

“Of course, any issue which threatens a student’s safety should immediately be reported to campus police,” said Aguilar