Communications Essay


Question:

In this paper, you are to take the issue of religion/ethnicity and citizenship in other countries and relate it to the U.S. society. You will first describe the issue (i.e., What is the issue and potential causes? What are various sides/perspectives toward it?) Then describe how similarly or/and differently this issue is experienced in the U.S. society. You need to engage in at least one recent U.S. newspaper article on this issue. Be sure to provide and cite sources in your report. Please note that it is your reasoning process and ability to make connections, rather your stand, that this being evaluated.


Answer:

The Effect One’s Religion Has on their Citizenship: Comparing How American and French Muslim Minorities Fit into Their Respective Societies

A heated debate has emerged regarding the way in which Muslim minorities adapt to the way of life in the United States. The ongoing war on Islamic terrorist groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has created a situation where Muslims in America are exposed to a potentially higher level of profiling than other religious minorities. There is an enduring assumption that Americans are against Muslims and vice versa. Proponents of this assumption tend to draw attention the wars America has fought with Muslim-majority Arab nations on the one hand and the Islamic terrorist attacks that have been waged against America and its allies on the other. Indeed, most Islamic terrorist organizations have openly stated their objective of destroying America, and this has greatly contributed to growing prejudice against Muslim minorities in the country. Conversely, America has been embroiled in a fierce military campaign against international terrorism since the September 11 attack mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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This paper sets out to assess the challenges that Muslim minorities face in their endeavor to fit into the mainstream American society, and to draw comparison with the situation in another developed country, France. It aims to show that Muslim minorities living in the United States continue to encounter more serious challenges in their efforts to integrate into the American society than their counterparts in France. This is mainly because of the long-running suspicious by Americans towards Muslims, which are exacerbated by ongoing attempts by Al Qaeda and ISIS to carry out another terrorist attack on American soil.

A poll conducted in September 2015 and reported by The New York Times found that the level of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States is frighteningly high (Downes, 2015). In this poll, which was undertaken in the state of Carolina, 72 percent of the respondents said that a Muslim president should not be allowed to become President of the United States (Downes, 2015). Sixteen percent of the respondents embraced the idea of a Muslim president while 12 percent were undecided (Downes, 2015). Forty percent said Islam should be legal, another 40 percent said it should be illegal, and 20 percent were undecided (Downes, 2015). These views are a reflection of the negative attitudes that many Americans have towards Muslim immigrants.

Since September 11, American Muslims have been facing a strong wave of religious discrimination within U.S. communities, schools, workplaces, and in virtually all areas of public life (Lawrence, 2013). This situation has been highlighted in many American newspapers in recent times. For example, in March 2011, the Huffington Post reported evidence of growing levels of religious discrimination against Muslims in the United States (Morgan, 2011). The seriousness of this problem is indisputable considering that the evidence was even presented in a judicial subcommittee of the U.S. Senate. This religious intolerance comes at a time when the Obama administration is endeavoring to promote good relations with Muslims as part of America’s efforts to fight against the threat of home-grown terrorism.

With such a high level of intolerance, Muslims in America live in constant fear of religious discrimination and hostility in the form of violent acts such as arson, vandalism, and bullying (Lawrence, 2013). For example, Muslims are more likely to be bullied in U.S. schools after being targeted for their religious practices, mode of dressing, worship schedules, and physique than in France. In other words, Muslims in the United States encounter more challenges in their efforts to integrate into society their counterparts in France.

One noticeable difference in regards to Islam in France is that the country has a larger Muslim population than the United States. Seven percent of the French population is made up of Muslims (Laurence & Va sse, 2006). In fact, France has one of the largest populations of Muslims in Western Europe. Although France, has a problem with Muslim immigration and integration, the situation has not deteriorated to the level being experienced in the United States. There are fewer sociological differences between Muslim and non-Muslim populations in France than in the United States. French non-Muslims are more receptive to the idea of co-existence with their Muslim counterparts than in the United States. This is largely because unlike in the United States, the debate on how to embrace Muslims has been lively and well established in France (Ajrouch, 2007).

In conclusion, Muslims in America face bigger challenges in their efforts to fit into society than their counterparts in France. In America, the current hostile attitude towards Muslims reflects the country’s political realities, whereby it is leading the fight against global Islamic terrorism. In recent times, this war has severally pitted the country against several Arab nations. The resulting perception is that Islam is a terrorism-oriented religion, hence the growing wave of religious discrimination against Muslims in the United States. In contrast, such strong anti-Muslim sentiments are not strongly being expressed in France because people there have somewhat gotten used to living in a society where Muslims constitute a sizeable part of the country’s population. Moreover, a lively debate has been established there with the aim of promoting the integration of the country’s Muslims into the French way of life.

 

References

Ajrouch, K. (2007). Global Contexts and the Veil: Muslim Integration in the United States and France. Sociology of Religion, 68(3), 321-325.

Downes, L. (2015). New Poll Finds Anti-Muslim Sentiment Frighteningly High. The New York Times, September 29, 2015, Web.

Laurence, J. & Va sse, J. (2006). Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Lawrence, B. (2013). New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Morgan, D. (2011). Muslim Discrimination Cases Disproportionately High In U.S. The Huffington Post, 29 March, 2011, Web.


 

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