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Muslims On Airplanes: Why There's Nothing to Fear

ICE Graveyard 21/04/2016 Omar Alnatour

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When I was a toddler, I was terrified of flying. So much so that my cries used to compete with the plane's engines for the ears of the unfortunate passengers that surrounded me. Looking back at it, I can't imagine how frustrated everyone on the plane must have been with me for being so ridiculously scared of flying when they knew there was absolutely nothing to fear. If there was one thing I remember from these fear-filled flights, it was how my mother would always hold my hand and tell me "don't be scared, everything will be perfectly okay insha'Allah." If there was one thing that helped me get over my fear of flying growing up, it was this phrase.
Earlier this past week, a Muslim college student was removed from a Southwest plane because of the "potentially threatening comments" he made onboard. At this point you're wondering, what were these threatening comments? Did he threaten to harm someone? Did he say something alarming? No, he just said the word 'insha'Allah", which means "God willing". His uncle had asked him to call him once he lands and he responded by saying "insha'Allah, I will call you when I arrive". He was then removed from the plane, interrogated, and humiliated.
I can talk about the dozens of Muslims that have been wrongly removed from airplanes in the past, or how one Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every three days, or how my Muslim mother is always "randomly" selected to be searched every single time she goes to an airport, but this isn't about that. This is about putting an end to the unjustified fear that Islamophobia has caused Americans to have towards Muslims.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Should Never Fear a Muslim on an Airplane:1.Muslims are not terrorists.
This is a fact. I have proved it here and here and here. So just as we no longer discuss the shape of the Earth when we discuss climate change because we all know that it's round, we no longer need to discuss Islam's view on terror when we discuss combating terrorism because all the facts prove that Muslims, as a religious group, are not terrorists.

2.You are more likely to be killed by a toddler than from a terrorist attack on a plane.

More Americans were killed by toddlers than by terrorists in 2015. And in 2014. And in 2013. And every year for the past several years.
But let me perfectly frank, the reason why Islamophobia has filled the hearts of Americans when it comes to Muslims flying on airplanes is because of the tragic 9/11 attacks (which have hurt Muslims just as much as non-Muslims). My response to this is to empty your hearts of this unjustified fear and fill your minds with this fact: Since the 9/11 attacks, less than 0.0002% of Americans killed were killed by Muslims.
This means you are more likely to die from choking on airplane food than from a terrorist attack on an airplane that involves a Muslim. Please keep this in mind next time you are flying on an airplane with a Muslim.
3.If you are scared of the word "insha'Allah", then you should be terrified of the word "accident".
According to information from the International Air Transport Association and the National Safety Council, you are more than 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane.
Even then, more than 3.5 billion people flew safely last year on over 37 million flights. On average, one airplane accident happens for every 4.5 million flights. This means that you are 25 times more likely to get struck by lightening before dying in a plane accident and even more likely to be struck by lightening than die from a terrorist attack on an airplane that involves a Muslim
So if the Arabic language or Muslims scare you, then loose bolts, faulty turbines, and cloudy days should terrify you at least 10,000 times more. Please keep this in mind next time you are flying on an airplane with a Muslim.
4.There are real issues to fear and to work towards solving.
In the time it took you to read this far, at least one American has died from a heart attack. In the time it takes you to finish this article, at least one American will have died as a result of suicide. By tonight, at least one American will have died as a result of distracted driving. By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, an American child will have died as a result of gun violence.
Meanwhile, not a single American would have been harmed by a Muslim as all of this is happening. Rather than fearing Muslims who pose no harm, why not work to address the aforementioned preventable deadly leading causes of death plaguing our nation?
5.It's not the word "insha'Allah" that is scaring you.
The fact of the matter is this, it is not the Arabic language that actually scares you. It's not the long beards or headscarves either. Rather it is the repeated words of Islamophbia that have caused you to fear that which you shouldn't.
When I was in Kindergarten, I stayed away from girls because I didn't want to get "cooties". I had no logical reason as to why I should fear "cooties", had never been a victim of "cooties" from a girl, and could provide no evidence that every single girl on the planet had "cooties", but I was terrified of them simply because everyone around me told me to be.
Pretty funny and ridiculous right? Well Islamophobia is the modern day "cooties" because you have no logical reason as to why you should fear Muslims, you are more likely to be a victim of a terrorist attack by a non-Muslim than a Muslim, and you have no evidence that tells you to fear an entire religious group of 1.6 billion Muslims.
Just as any doctor will call you a fool if you told them you are a cootiephobe, all the facts will tell you similar if you insist on being an Islamophobe.
There's a painful irony in how Islamophobia has caused the very word that used to give me comfort during my flights to now become a source of fear for others.
As I read the stories of the countless humiliated Muslims who have been unjustly removed from airplanes as if we are nothing more than a walking dehumanized threat, my eyes fill with tears. More importantly, my mind is filled with questions: Why is perfectly ok to say "God bless you" on an airplane but it becomes threatening if it's said in Arabic? Why is a headscarved nun respected on a plane while a Muslim woman wearing the same exact covering is humiliated? Why is it that you can get as drunk and loud as you want on an airplane but Muslims can't even quietly speak our native language?
Orville Wright, the co-inventor of the first airplane, once said, "If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." We as a nation will never advance and defeat terrorism if we continue to accept Islamophobia as true and let it separate us. Don't let this unjustified fear blind you from the facts that plead you to treat us just as you wish to be treated if your religion had been hijacked by extremists.
I conclude with the very words my mom would tell me on my flights: don't be scared, everything will be perfectly okay insha'Allah.

OMAR ALNATOUR © Omar Alnatour OMAR ALNATOUR
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