Standing Up for Muslims in Our Community

Once again, we have witnessed horrible acts of cowardice. Dozens have been killed in a terrorist attack in Brussels, the latest episode in a continuous cycle of senseless violence perpetrated by ISIS. This is truly heartbreaking and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of Belgium.

If the past has been any indication of what will transpire over the next several weeks, we know that some people, like Donald Trump, will be quick to point to the teachings of Islam as the motivating factor behind the violence carried out by the terrorists.

As a public servant, and someone who has worked with Muslims in my time in Washington and here in the district where I am running for Congress, this is not what I believe Islam to be, nor is it the Islam that is practiced by nearly a quarter of the world's population. ISIS is a terrorist group, and one that continues to adulterate an entire religion in order to advance its own political agenda -- conflating the teachings of Islam and the values of a billion people with this group of terrorists is simply incorrect.

As my Muslim friends have explained to me with evidence, Islam, at its core, is a faith that promotes unity and a singular brotherhood across all cultures and races. This is the message that extremists, who have perverted the message of Islam, fail to understand. They seek to divide people, rather than unite. They divide through rhetoric, through threats, and through violence.

They have killed and destroyed the lives of thousands, including hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and have hijacked a religion in the process of furthering their own violent agenda.
Many Muslims in my community have expressed their disgust for these acts of violence. They are disgusted that so many innocent lives have been taken, that so many families have been broken, and that so many promising futures have been destroyed. They are disgusted that this has been carried out under the guise of a faith that teaches compassion, inclusiveness, and the respect for life.

As the world condemns the violence that has taken place in Brussels, in Lahore, and in other parts of the world over the past few weeks, let us not forget who our real enemy is. We are fighting a terrorist group that attacks civilians around the world regardless of their religion.