By Nancy Werteen
A disturbing trend is on the rise in the United States – hate crimes against Muslims. According to research, there has been a 67% increase in attacks in recent years. Instead of being intimidated, one Muslim-American woman is confronting hate head on.
“The basic misconception is that all Muslims are bad people,” Moina Shaiq says. “All Muslims are extremists. They tell me to my face.”
Shaiq proudly came to the U.S. more than 40 years ago from Pakistan. But as hate crimes began increasing, she knew she had to try to do something.
“This is not what Islam is. I compare ISIS to KKK,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘What can I do proactively so that these hate crimes don’t happen?'”
Shaiq placed an ad in her local paper: Come have coffee and conversation with a Muslim.
“The research constantly says that some people have never met a Muslim,” she explained. “I wanted to be that person. So I just took my laptop thinking that maybe a few people will show up. The first event drew over 100 people.”
“A lot of us don’t know anything,” Jose Oropeza said. “It’s good because you’re able to hear it from someone that’s an active and a practicing Muslim.”
In the two years since that first coffee, Shaiq has led 200 more get-togethers in a dozen cities. Everything is fair game.
“So, just bringing perspective,” Shaiq said. “There are bad apples in every ethnicity, in every group you know …but that does not mean that everybody is bad.”
Shaiq realizes more work still needs to be done. The FBI has reported a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016.
“Muslims are not getting the support they deserve. So I think it’s great she’s promoting her culture and being a strong woman,” said Alice Carrol.
“Why not coexist with love and compassion?” Shaiq asked.
One woman facing down hatred, one cup of coffee at a time.
While Shaiq continues to raise awareness on her own, there are also several organizations aiming to foster a better understanding about Muslims. Among them are Islamic Networks Group and the Crescent Peace Society which formed after the Oklahoma City bombing.