What's at stake for Muslim Americans in the 2016 Presidential election. 

NAMAW Chairwoman, Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah
Later it was announced that a suspect had been arrested for the bombing. He was a white Anglo Saxon who was eventually convicted and executed for that crime. According to media reports, his motive for blowing up the building and killing the children was a government assault on a  compound of religious people in Waco Texas that left manyof the people, among them women and children, dead. By the time this information reached mainstream America, several mosques had been attacked and burned, people, including a  non Muslim Sikh had been killed, and Muslim homes were being attacked and set on fire. In one such incident a Muslim woman who's home came under attack went into premature labor from sheer fright and delivered her baby stillborn at a local Oaklahoma City hospital. The family named that baby Salam, which means peace. 

The backlash experienced by Muslims after the Oklahoma City bombing taught us some important lessons. One of those lessons is  to never be complacent about what the media and people of influence are saying. Media personalities and journalists like Steven Emerson were not the only people lined up at the public microphone after the bombing to make disparaging remarks about Muslims and Islam. Politicians and even leading religious figures from mainstream religions joined a chorus of voices to condemn Muslims and Islam and to attempt to portray Islam as a religion of violence and all Muslims as terrorists. This lesson was brought home again later in 2001 when the US was attacked on September 11th, destroying the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon. That attack resulted in an ongoing  global war on terrorism wherein every Muslim is cast just as Emerson had described us previously, as either terrorists or potential terrorists.  More than 5 million innocent Muslims have been killed and several Muslim coutntries destroyed in the backlash to what has come to be known as 9/11. 

 As Muslim Americans we share the interests and concerns of our fellpw Americans. We desire good schools, good and accessible and affordable healthcare.  We desire safe and beautiful environments for our families to live in and for our children to grow up in.  We also desire the enjoyment of  our Constitutional rights, including the right to be safe and secure in our person and property. We want to be respected and accepted as part of the fabric of the United States because it is where most of us were born and raised and where many of us have become citizens.  It is where we pay our taxes and contribute to our country's security as peacful, law abiding citizens.  The fulfillment of our desires is what is at stake for us in this election cycle. We want to elect a candidate that realizes that when any segment of our population's rights are threatened or denied, it is a threat to us all. We need a president who is willing to engage our community and to work with us to dispel the irrational fear called Islamophobia and to stand with us against the voices of hatred and incitement against Muslims and Islam. 
 
 Every Presidential election cycle we are told that everything is at stake and so we must vote. We head to the polls and cast our votes with a sincere intention to elect  a candidate that will be sympathetic to the unique challenges being faced by Muslims internationally. We don't go to the polls looking for a savior, yet we hope that by perhaps some form of divine intervention we have voted for a candidate who will at the very least realize that a large segment of the US population is hurting and is also being threatened by a growing phenomenon called Islamophobia. 
 
Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam  and by extension it includes an irrational fear of Muslims. Islamohobia became a problem in the United States following the PBS airing of a documentray written and produced by a journalist named Steven Emerson. In his documentray, Jihad in America, Emerson argued that there is an international organization of Muslims who are led by a radical interpretation of Islam and who carry out acts of terrorism against people in the West and in partcularly the people of the United States.

In his documentary Emerson suggested that the brand of Islam he mentioned  is so potent  that it makes every Muslim a potential terrorist.  He attributes this alledged appeal and potency to the Qur'an, which he says is the inspiration for violence and what guides Muslims to carry out acts of violence against non Muslims. According to Emerson, this brand of Islam is also so dangerous that it makes every American a potential target and that is the basis of the fear resulting from his theory.  We don't say to fear real threats is an irrational response. We do believe that it is irrational to fear  imaginary threats, which is exactly what Emerson presented in his documentary. Emerson created and presented an imaginary threat that has been used to incite hatred and violence against Muslims.

Following the airing of Emerson's documentary a series of terrorist attacks took place in the US. Within a very short period following the presentation of his theory  a government office buiding in Oklahoma City was blown up killing hundreds of people and many children who were students at a day care center located in the buiding.  For weeks following the attack, the media worked tirelessly to link the attack to Emerson's theory of a roaming Muslim terrorist network. Emerson himself appeared on several major media news programs, where he claimed that the attack fit the profile of radical Islamic terrorism exposed in his documentary.  He said that Muslims carried out the attack hoping to kill as many Americans as possible.  He also said that  Oklahoma City is a hotbed of Muslim terrorism.