A Muslim boy was kicked off a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus and called a terrorist after he began reciting a prayer in Arabic because he couldn’t find his metro card in October 2012, according to the New York Post.
He was ten years old.
“He’s a young boy, but he’s old enough to know what discrimination is,” said Hyder Naqvi, the lawyer for the boy and his family.
The boy’s family filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court on Oct. 25, according to the New York Daily News.
One year later, the boy’s family is charging the MTA with civil-rights abuses and religious discrimination, according to the Post.
“It’s very disappointing to see how young children have become the targets of discrimination because of their religion,” said Sadyia Khalique, the director of operations for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a statement Oct. 29.
The amount of religious discrimination and the attacks on religious freedom present in today’s society are unnerving and unacceptable.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, the U.S. score on social hostilities involving religion rose from 2.0 to 3.4 on a ten point scale within a year, moving the U.S. to the per end of the moderate range of hostilities, as of mid-2010.
Liberty Thompson, a New Mexico high school valedictorian and devout Seventh Day Adventist, was denied her religious freedom when her high school moved its graduation date from Friday to Saturday and wouldn’t allow her to make her case before the school board, according to KRQE Local News.
“That will be my Sabbath Day. I believe it’s important to put God first, but still, I would really, really want to walk with my classmates,” Thompson said.
Despite being protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, some individuals experience religious discrimination while seeking employment.
Fox Sports Southwest recently fired football analyst Craig James from his new position because of comments he made against homosexuality in a February 2012 Republican candidate debate for the U.S. Senate, according to the Christian Post.
“We feel like we’re having to gain the freedom of religion. Our Founding Fathers gave us that, 250 years ago, when they crafted the Constitution,” James said during the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit last month, where he and two other American Christians shared their stories of dealing with religious discrimination, according to the Christian Post.
To many, America is considered a blessed, safe place where they can practice whatever religion they please freely without fearing for their lives. However, the discrimination that some experience quickly clouds the freedoms this country is known for with religious intolerance.
Prabhjot Singh, a medical doctor and an assistant professor of international affairs at Columbia University, was attacked by a gro of teenagers while walking through Central Park with a friend the night of Sept. 21, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Singh is Sikh, and Sikh men frequently get mistaken for Muslims because of their appearance — which includes a turban and beard.
“I heard, ‘Terrorist, Osama, get him,’” Dr. Singh said.
Dr. Singh tried to run away, but his attackers were on bicycles, and he and his friend were both punched by the boys. However, Dr. Singh suffered a fractured jaw after falling to the ground and feeling punches and kicks to his face and body, according to the New York Times.
According to Long Island News Day. Dr. Singh studies and writes about bias attacks against the Sikh community, and said that instead of lashing out, his attackers could have asked him questions about his turban or his religion
The attack on Dr. Singh is a perfect example of how religious intolerance is ruining the principles surrounding religious freedom that contribute to the greatest of America.
“The principle of institutional separation of church and state never meant that God was to have no place in public life,” said pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. in a guest column on the Christian Post. “American atheists are free not to believe in God, but they are still bound to a system that recognizes God, not man, as the source of human liberty.”
The fact that America is dubbed the “melting pot” means that our country is full of many different people belonging to many different religions.
Whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or atheist, accepting and being tolerant of these people and religions should be at the forefront of all Americans’ minds.