SA Muslim: 'I am not responsible for what that man and his wife did'

Muslims get backlash after shooting, ask public not to stereotype

SAN ANTONIO – Two days after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, investigators are linking one of the shooters to the Islamic State group. As seen in the past, social media and politicians are already showing backlash towards Islam, in general.

Sakib Shaikh, a member of San Antonio's Muslim community, is asking the public not to push blame on him and his religion for actions they have nothing to do with.

Shaikh said one thing always comes to mind when he watches terrifying mass shootings unravel on the news.

"'Please don't let it be Muslim,'" Shaikh said. "And my parents are from Pakistan, which is where the shooter's parents also happen to be from. That's always the first reaction. We want to sympathize. We want to go hold a candle with everyone else, but our reaction is always, 'Are we going to be welcomed?'"

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Shaikh has watched the public point angry fingers at all Muslims in the wake of each terrorist attack.

"I'm not responsible for what that man did or what him and his wife did. I'm not responsible. My wife is not responsible. I don't know them. I've never met them," Shaikh said.

He works at San Antonio's Muslim Children Education and Civic Center and is constantly fearful of backlash.

"If you ask some mosque officials, we receive threats on a regular basis. That goes up 100 percent after attacks like this," he said.

He worries about his 2-year-old child and pregnant wife.

"My wife wears the head scarf. If she's going out for lunch, I have to ask her, 'Make sure you take one of your coworkers with you,'" Shaikh said, shaking his head.

Shaikh mentions how differently the public reacts to other mass shootings, like the one at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic this week, where the gunman was not Muslim.

"They want to isolate the anger towards that individual and more towards the act itself. They'll kind of filter out his background. We absolutely do not get that kind of treatment. When something happens to us, they want to know what mosque he attended," he said.

When it comes to ISIS-inspired or ISIS-led terror attacks, Shaikh tries to understand how things get so generalized. He said ISIS has the words "Islamic State" in the name, yet it has nothing to do with Islam.

"This issue of domination and creating a state has nothing to do with the religion that teaches respect for parents, mercy, justice, forgiveness, all these things. That's what the religion is about," he explained.

Shaikh called ISIS a group of political extremists void of any religion or religious community.

In the wake of yet another tragedy, he is asking others not to put him in that same horrendous category. He is asking others not to stereotype or place blame on Muslims who also fear terrorism every day.

"Just treat us the way you would anyone else," he said.

Shaikh's plea is similar to those showing up on social media sites all over the world. Many are using the hashtag #TerrorismHasNoReligion.

About the Author: