Being a muslim immigrant from Pakistan, who has had the privilege to live in America, I’ve always wondered why immigrants such as myself, muslim, are perceived to be conspirators against democracy, an ideology that people back home in Pakistan would love to see practiced more.  

On numerous occasions while flipping through the news channels, I’ve seen reports of growing Islamic fundamentalists overseas that hate America for their freedom, for their way of life. Due to this promoted perception, many Muslims in America become target of hate crime, considered to be a threat to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Americans believe in and hold on to so strongly. Little do they know that the same rights and freedoms they believe should be upheld by everyone are not being upheld for others abroad.

America has been instrumental in violating both international and national law by conducting drone attacks on foreign grounds and using them as tools of surveillance within U.S. soil. Not only are these drones being used to target “militants”, but they are also being used against the people the government has intended to protect. 

Since 2002, America has been using drones to attack Al-Qaeda and other militants that are a threat to national security. Total casualties by drone strikes in Pakistan alone counts for over 3000 killed, over 800 of which were innocent civilians. Yemen and Somalia have faced over 800 casualties with over 200 being innocent civilians. 

The argument made by the U.S. is that there are no geographical constraints in the war on terror. Citing Article 51 of the UN Charter, the American government says that the ensuing “war on terror” follows alleged terrorists wherever they may be found and that the war has no temporal limitations. Even still, the use of lethal force has rules and requires proof when being carried out. Yet these drone attacks are presuming those targeted as guilty without any proof, making them reasonable targets by their status rather than action. 

Following the guise that Article 51 provides, the U.S. has gained notoriety in establishing “black sites” around the world. This is an initiative facilitated by the CIA that establishes secret prisons in countries involved in the program to detain enemy combatants who may pose as a threat to U.S. sovereignty. Reason that the American public hears little of these establishments in their media is so that the U.S. government can manipulate and break code of ethics on how to deal with prisoners detained in these prisons.

All the while this is going on, hate crimes against Muslims are starting to erupt. Muslims are being attacked in mosques and in places they have been working for years for their livelihood. In addition to this, the stereotypical image of muslims that the media has created has put people of other religions in the crossfire of these hate crimes. This probably makes one wonder, why are Muslim’s being attacked on the outside and the inside? The answer is a simple one, media censorship. Flagship news publications over time have blatantly admitted to have formed partnerships at the federal level to withhold information from the public on such topics as the drone-assassination program, secret prisons, torture and unlawful surveillance of the U.S. public. 

In 2011, America tried carrying out one of the most daring operations, against one of its own citizens. It was a planned killing of American citizen Anwar Awlaki, alleged recruiter of terrorists. Both him and his 16-year-old son were killed without arrests, trials or presumptions of innocence being made. No news channel in America reported of this maneuver.

While the rest of the world continues to watch casualties and deaths being produced by U.S. drone strikes, the American citizens are left in the dark, unknowing of the dangers being brewed by their government. Their media outlets pour an onslaught of images of "radical" muslims from around the world, feeding their citizens an image of anger, resentment and threat towards U.S. sovereignty. Muslims that have been affected by drone strikes or other crimes perpetrated by U.S government become easy recruits for the actual radically minded, Al-Qaida.  The U.S. citizens have no idea where the anger and resentment is coming from and hence associate Islam to be this way. It would be wrong for me to assume that all U.S. citizen's operate within this mind-frame, but I can easily see why one would fall into this trap of misguidedness. It is important for transparency to be attached with all actions of the government so that people can remain informed and chose sides carefully because continuing on to the current path of an eye for an eye is surely to turn the whole world blind creating more and more misinformed and misguided individuals.

7/14/2013 18:02:00

Very insightful. I appreciate your timeline and perception. People need to read within written lines in the mainstream media material. This is really good!

7/16/2013 00:10:07

Often times people don't get to see both sides of the story. Great point Renish.

7/14/2013 18:28:54

this was brilliant!
Being a muslim, and being an american citizen is a battle we don't face everyday. but hearing from people who do, it always opens up the eyes of outsiders, or at least we can hope it does.

reading this article saddened me to my core. Is an "American, non muslim" life worth more than that of an american muslim?

why the media fails to cover such attacks on muslims is something that will forever enrage me. i can still remember reading the news about Shaima Alawadi, who was beaten to death in her own home by someone who assumed she was a terrorist, and had the audacity to leave a note telling her family to go back to her own country...

American Muslims are always targeted for anything that goes wrong, even when they are paying the same taxes, living on the same soil and helping the demolished economy even when they are facing extreme discrimination because they call themself muslim.. the same people who may have lost family in 9/11 but arent allowed to publicly grieve because hey their "kind" did it...

really opens up your eyes.
thank you for your insight!

7/16/2013 00:12:42

Hey Areesha! Thanks for bringing up the point about Shaima Alawadi. This was a hard working middle class family with values just like every American family.I don't think that story was given as much attention as it should have. Did the perpetrator get away with the crime as well? It is often the hardworking people that want to contribute equally, that get looked over due to the negative perceptions portrayed about them in the media. Great points.

7/14/2013 19:03:55

Extremely well written
Would like to stress the importance of the respectful and factual tone you used
It shows and highlights how there is always a chance that there is always more to a story than what is reported at face
It also shows what a little research can do for someone

Overall, thank you

7/16/2013 00:13:08

No my friend, thank you!

7/14/2013 21:47:18

Yet again you have done it again! I enjoyed reading your post. Just a minor correction: 30,000 innocen civilians have been killed since the start of the drone operations in Pakistan.

7/16/2013 00:14:02

Oh my. Would you be able to share the source of that number?


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    As an avid listener of instincts and humanity, I strive to do things that put me out of my comfort zone. Cherishing the growth that comes along with this habit and all the beauty that life has to offer, I'd like to share my experiences with you. 

    All posts and opinions expressed are mine and completely independent of the University of Waterloo and the International Development program.


    July 2013
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