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Islam deserves religious liberty

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The religion of Islam has a current following of 1.8 billion people, yet some, including legislators challenge Islam’s status as a religion, therefore they believe, followers of Islam should not be protected by the First Amendment.

In a January 2018 news release, South Dakota Republican State Sen. Neal Tapio wrote: “Does our Constitution offer protections and rights to a person who believes in the full implementation of Islamic Law…who believe in the deadly political ideology that believes you should be killed for leaving Islam?”

A Pew Research study predicts Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060 and will surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group in the second half of this century.

Tapio, along with countless other state lawmakers, lawyers and prominent social media influencers, have berated the religion and completely misconstrue Islam’s beliefs.

Islamophobia, which is the fear, hatred or prejudice against the religion of Islam and its followers, contributes to the general public’s assumption that all Muslims are here to force their religion on other people and commit harm to those who disagree with their values.

When people do not take the time to educate themselves on different religions, this false perspective on Islam spirals out of control and we lose what it means to be culturally sensitive and aware.

The Quran, which is Islam’s holy bible, does not ask for people to commit harm to other non believers. The Quran asks Muslims to have mutual respect for non-Muslims and form a relationship of mutual respect and tolerance.

We need to learn that not all Muslims are here to enforce harm on other non-believers; this unfair group categorization and stereotype of the religion discredits a large part of the 1.8 billion people who practice Islam for its true purpose.

To take away religious liberty from a large group of people in the U.S., a critical foundation of the United States constitution, would say more about the values we have now adopted, which do not reflect a country that encourages free exercise of religion, but instead encourages a restricted exercise to believe in what society deems as acceptable to believe in.

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