Photo: Stephanie Sanyour
Terrorism is a hot topic in today’s news and when people think of terrorism, they think of Islam. Zohra Sarwari, the famous inspirational Muslim speaker, came to Drake University last Thursday to help non-Muslims understand what terrorism is, and what the real teachings of Islam are in her inspirational lecture called “No, I’m Not a Terrorist!”
Sarwari explained that terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation, and that the incorrect link between of terrorism and Islam may be caused by a bad portrayal of the media.
“I don’t know if the media doesn’t know or the media has the wrong knowledge, but they are spreading it the incorrect way and due to that there is more islamophobia and people are more afraid,” Sarwari says.
According to the Washington Post, 55 percent of Americans lack a basic understanding of Islam, and 48 percent have unfavorable views of Muslims.
Sarwari saw this as an opportunity to become a Muslim inspirational speaker.
“I was tired of the media teaching my religion,” Sarwari says.
Sarwari explained that Islam does not promote suicide bombings, killings or terrorist attacks, and the people who engage in those activities do it as an act of anger or because of misinterpretation of readings.
Sarwari explained how the media likes to include Islam in terrorism stories, but leave out the other religions.
She showed an article of a man who got inside a plane in 2010 and crashed into an IRS office in Texas. The man was a catholic. “Why wasn’t his faith in the headlines? It doesn’t make sense,” Sarwari says.
“We need to open our eyes to everything and not stigmatize,” Sarwari said.
She also talked about the importance of history when understanding what terrorism is and who is behind it. “We need to look back at our old history. It’s easy to point fingers, but we don’t like to look at ourselves,” Sarwari says.
She talked about the terrorism made towards African Americans, Native Indians, even the Jews in the Holocaust. She explained that Hitler was a Christian, but “we can’t judge Christianity based on what Hitler did.”
“Terrorism happens all around us. It shouldn’t be blamed on race, gender or religion,” Sarwari says.
Sarwari also educated the crowd about why Muslim women dress the way they do and some of the Muslim traditions.
“Islam has always been a religion of peace,” Sarwari says.
Sarwari encouraged people to not be afraid of Islam and to have greater acceptance.
“We need to understand each other so that we can have peace together.”