Anti-Muslim bigotry has become a national epidemic. Elected officials and candidates alike have laid the blame of terrorism at the feet of innocent American Muslim citizens. Governors, senators and presidential candidates have proposed everything from a national registry tracking American Muslims to a ban for American Muslims and Muslims traveling abroad to religious tests to determine citizens’ faiths. They have questioned the loyalty of citizens based on their faith or how they choose to pray.
In the past week, this Islamophobia has expanded to include a community of Muslim Americans that is normally universally respected: fallen soldiers and the Gold Star families they leave behind. After Khizr Khan’s impassioned Democratic National Convention speech last week about the loss of his son and the American values that compelled his child to die for his country, Republican candidate Donald Trump questioned whether Khan’s wife was “allowed” to speak, insinuating that she remained silent because of her faith. Since then, Trump’s adviser suggested that Khan is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood—a non-American in disguise. These statements suggest that Captain Khan’s Gold Star family is somehow less American than anyone else, simply due to their faith.
As an American Muslim, I can testify that they couldn’t be more wrong. I’m a New Yorker, a proud member of a military family and an American Muslim. My faith does not threaten my patriotism—it strengthens it.