CAIRO – Shocked by the death of a Muslim teen who had fallen from a Seattle roof last month, American Muslims expressed fear and anxiety after the incident that was condemned by the wider community, amid soaring hostile rhetoric in the country.
“It makes people freaked out,” Michaela Corning, a Muslim revert, told Los Angeles Time.
“A lot of us feel like we have to be on extra guard.”
The Muslim revert was talking about the death of 16-year-old Muslim Hamza Warsame after suffering a fatal fall from a Capitol Hill building last month.
Warsame’s death was determined as an incident by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office which announced Wednesday that the teen died from “blunt-force injury” caused by an “unintentional fall”.
Once the news of Muslim teen’s death came to light, many accepted the fact that the 16-year-old teen was beaten and pushed off a roof in a fit of anti-Muslim violence, attesting to the uneasy emotions felt by many local Muslims.
“We never said that,” said Warsame’s sister, Ikram, an 18-year-old University of Washington student.
A hashtag, Justice4Hamza, has been created in a swift action to the incident that only added to the climate of fear and anxiety.
Muslims make up 1% of America’s 322 million population, according to Pew Research center.
Muslims aged between 18 and 29 make about 44% of the American Muslim population, while people over 65 years make 5% of the Muslim population.
Fear and anxiety are not the only feelings expressed by American Muslims following the incident.
Kindness and support are also being showed to the religious minority.
“Honestly, we’ve been having more support than ever before,” Wasrsame’s sister said after being approached by her many people, including her brother’s classmates, who inundated her family with sympathetic messages.
“It’s just really heartwarming.”
Showing solidarity with the Muslims community, a “get-to-know-a-Muslim” event was held at a Kirkland Starbucks or a Columbia City rally on December 20.
Dozens of participants raised signs with messages such as “We love our Muslim neighbors.”
The rally was organized by Manny Apostol, raised as a Baptist and working as a dispatcher for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“To let our Muslim neighbors know we stand by them,” Apostol explained.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
“It’s not just Muslims, it’s also people who look Muslim,” said Bukhari, noting that Sikhs, Latinos and African-Americans also have been targeted.
Anti-Muslim sentiments have reached an all-time high after the rise of the so-called Islamic State, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Facing growing attacks on Muslims, CAIR has launched a new website, Islamophobia.org, to monitor and challenge the growing anti-Muslim bigotry.
In 2014, CAIR published “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide that tells American Muslims to report any actual knowledge of criminal activity without being asked by law enforcement authorities.