Hate mail sent to UNC Muslim Students Association

Not all cartoons are harmless or funny:

The comics included angry imagery of camels and Muslims, as well as warnings about Islam's invasion into Western countries. One cartoon read, "If you say anything bad about 'Allah' or his prophet, Muhammad...some of them will try to hurt you." Another cartoon strip read, "Here's how they invade today. First, they're peaceful, until they gain power — then look out! England is losing control and is closer to accepting Sharia* (sic) law."

“It's definitely an eye-opener because we go about our lives as any other student on this campus," MSA publicity chairperson Malak Harb said. "For us to receive things like that, it kind of makes us stop for a second and realize, you know what, there are people who see us as less than. They try to make it very clear to us that we are not like everyone else.”

Using cartoon imagery to promote hatred is definitely not new; it was standard fare for anti-Semitic movements dating back to a century ago. And one of the main reasons bigots use this is because they are free to craft the angriest and ugliest facial features they want, in order to frighten gullible white people. Jews and recently freed slaves were depicted in this fashion even by mainstream newspapers, and average white Southerners didn't even bat an eye. And that's why it's more important then ever for us to avoid falling into the same old prejudicial trap:

Harb believes sentiments of Islamaphobia were present before President Donald Trump came into office, but are now more openly expressed.

“People had these beliefs but they didn't share them,” Harb said. “But now, when you have a president who is very clear and vocal about his beliefs that not inspired but kind of gives other citizens permission to also voice their beliefs whether it's good or bad, but mostly bad.”

MSA outreach chairperson Safa Ahmed said she’s felt a change since the 2016 election even in what she called the "liberal bubble" in Chapel Hill.

“We'll have neighbors who are Trump supporters, people in class who are Trump supporters,” Ahmad said. “Maybe they aren't aggressive, but they still believe certain things, and you're like, how can you be sitting next to me in class believing what you believe about me? It takes away some of that safe space feeling, and it can't ever be completely eradicated in our environment now.”

You know what I think about when I see a woman wearing Hijab in public here in North Carolina? I admire her bravery. But just the fact that it requires bravery to do that is a huge problem. In a society where we look fondly upon someone wearing a crucifix or putting a "Thank You Jesus" sign in their yard, for us to look darkly at somebody because they wrap a scarf around their head is the very definition of hypocrisy.