Scrolling through Twitter after an ISIS-related terrorist attack yields tweet after tweet defending the peaceful religion of Islam — and a whole slew of negative, incriminatory and degrading Islamophobic tweets. Many of the positive statements are retweeted and praised, but so are the Islamophobic messages.
As the world has front row seats to ISIS’s performances of shootings, bombings and violence, Islam itself has come to center stage. For Muslims living in the United States, social media impacts others’ opinions of them and their religion.
“You see people who are sharing their positive thoughts and people who are sharing their negative thoughts,” said Hussam Qutob, a Muslim BYU student from Jerusalem. “But we live in a world where negative thoughts escalate more quickly than positive thoughts so what gets presented is these negative thoughts in front of people.”
Qutob is proud of his religion and doesn’t feel the need to justify anything; he’s willing and eager to explain, but never to justify. “For people to come in based on what other extremists did and judge me on what I believe in, I think is just unfair,” Qutob said.
By being marginalized and stereotyped so often because of his beliefs, Qutob has developed a more open-minded mindset.
“As a Muslim, I’ve suffered from stereotypes my whole life. I am against generalizing on anything, not just my religion,” Qutob said. “That’s something I learned throughout the years, that generalizing is bad because you’re just spreading ideas, you’re just labeling people — which I think is never healthy.”