Radical minority affects image of community

In the Philippines, the city of Marawi is currently at war with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

ISIS and local extremists called the Maute group are terrorizing Marawi. More than 600 casualties have been accounted for since the attacks began May 23.

Yet, in the midst of this devastation, truth is unveiled. Not all Muslims are bad.

“In popular culture, there isn’t any other conception of Islam and Muslims other than what you see on the news,” said Kumail Nanjiani. “When you go to a theme park, you see Muslims riding roller coasters and eating ice cream. Why doesn’t anybody think of those Muslims when they think of Muslims?”

In the U.S., many people see women with hijabs and immediately think, “danger.” In 2015, a Brookings Institution survey found that 61 percent of Americans feel the Islamic community is “unfavorable.”

At this time of the year (and every other day for that matter), Americans should remember the atrocities committed by al-Qaeda Sep. 11, 2001. But we should also remember just because someone is Muslim does not mean that person is a terrorist.  

Facebook star Nas (he does not include last names for safety purposes), traveled to Marawi in the midst of the attacks. He met a miraculous man named Nor, a Muslim living in the danger zone.

No one in the city was exempt from the danger ISIS posed, according to a video Nas posted on his Facebook page. Nor became a hero when he provided shelter for 74 civilians. Of the civilians, 44 were Christians, Nor said. He eventually led them past ISIS forces to safety, sparing their lives.

However, this is not the first time Nor acted as a hero. In the 1980s, he led an army of 2,000 that fought for autonomy. In the process, he saved 46 hostages, according to the video.

Greatest of all, Nor studied Islam in Mecca with none other than Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda, in the 1970s.

This is proof that not all Muslims are terrorists. Nor studied with one of the most dangerous men of all time, but he could not be more different than bin Laden.

If Nor can save the lives of 44 Christians, Americans should be able to extend simple courtesies to the Islamic community.  

I propose that we stop assuming, just because someone is a Muslim, they have ill intentions. At the very least, these people deserve the benefit of the doubt.

So often, Muslims and Christians are portrayed as enemies, but in many ways, Muhammad and Jesus preached very similar messages. They both emphasized peace.

At UNA, we have the power to promote peace and unity through the Friends of International Students group or by becoming a conversation partner. By doing so, we overcome bias by getting to know the person behind the head scarf.

So whether a person is Muslim or Christian, Middle Eastern or American, get to know and understand them before assumptions are made.

Truth is, the Muslim girl in history class probably does not have a bomb under her hijab.