Castleton has very few Muslims and the few who are here would be the first to tell you that there is a huge difference between the ISIS group, and non-extremist, customary Muslims. And they are insulted by ISIS.
Since the recent Paris attacks committed by ISIS, America’s society is asking more questions than ever, but are they asking the right questions? It seems like Castleton’s students simply want to know who is to blame and who is suspicious.
“I honestly don’t watch the news much and I’ve been pretty in the dark about all of it, but now that it has become so prominent and everyone is talking about it, I definitely want to know more,” said junior Melissa Dimock.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, is an extremist group that follows an Islamic ultra-fundamentalist ideology. They consider themselves at war with the nation and with all people who do not meet their standards of “true” Muslims.
Muslims follow the religion of Islam, a religion that is based on the Quran. They pray five times a day, believe in one God, Allah, and live striving to please Allah so one may gain paradise.
Adan Osman was born in Kenya and raised Muslim. He still practices the Islamic religion when he can, admitting that he doesn’t pray as much as he thinks he should, but is, “trying to find God again.”
“I was raised and born into Islam. My parents raised me very religious,” said the Castleton junior.
Osman said he hasn’t ever really felt treated differently for being Muslim, but acknowledges it’s easier for him to hide his faith.
“It’s easier for me to blend in as a man because I don’t have to wear the head scarf like the girls,” he said.
When he tells people he’s Muslim, he knows some prejudge him and view him differently. He explained how the ISIS attacks are giving a bad reputation to the rest of the Islamic community and fueling peoples generalized beliefs that, “all Muslims are terrorists.”
“ISIS portrays Islam as a bad religion. It hurts us …. I think it’s really hurtful to say that all Muslims are the same. It gets me angry,” Osman said.
Mohammad Bilal, 29, known as the guy who makes the sandwiches at Citgo at Four Corners, is from Pakistan and is also Muslim. Bilal agrees with Osman that ISIS is damaging the Muslim reputation with terrorist attacks and objectives.
“They are not even Muslim. That is what I think,” he said.
He said their violent acts and goals go against the Islam religion, because it does not condone killing innocent people.
“If you kill one, you’re killing the Islamic nation, if you save one, you’re saving the Islamic nation … they are just ruining the whole thing. I feel bad,” he said.
Senior Turner Ede believes that most people at Castleton don’t judge Muslim students, but he thinks there are exceptions too.
“I don’t judge people around here because everybody knows each other … It’s the people you don’t recognize around town that people find suspicious though,” Ede said.
Bilal knows that some people judge him, but he’s ok with that.
“Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “A lot of people already know who I am, so it doesn’t bother me.”
Senior Nicole Folino said she doesn’t judge people and talked about being fortunate to become close with Muslim students.
“I had the opportunity to work closely with one student through Student Support Network. Working side by side was a great experience and I got to know her on a personal level,” Folino said.
Global Studies major Eric Ginter follows the news closely and said he believes Americans can take a more useful approach to dealing with ISIS.
“Although ISIS is committing radical acts of terror and is getting the attention they are likely seeking, I think we as Americans are taking the wrong approach at solving the problem,” Ginter said.
“I think we could do a better job of understanding their point of view, which in turn might offer us an effective way to disempower them. By refusing to address what it is that ISIS wants, we are prolonging an issue that has brought with it, unnecessary consequences. I am not suggesting that we give in to the “Islamic group,” I simply suggest that we look at both sides of the coin,” he said.
Osman simply hopes for understanding and stresses that people need to realize not are Muslims are radicals or terrorists
“Every religion you have the good and the bad people. People only see the negatives of Muslims and not the positives,” Osman said.