Last Saturday was the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept, 11, 2001. That day unified us as Americans. But at the very same time, it divided us across religious lines and amplified negative Muslim stereotypes.

Over the past few months, this anti-Muslim sentiment has reared its ugly head across the nation. In May, a man brought a pipe bomb into a Florida mosque during daily prayers and set it off. In late August, a cab driver in New York City was stabbed by his passenger after the driver told the passenger he was Muslim.

Most prominent in the news is the controversial Islamic community center in New York City not far from ground zero. Created for the purpose of social and cultural activities, it has been inaccurately portrayed by some news media and many renowned pundits as a radical Islamic headquarters in one of America’s most iconic cities.

Though the acts on Sept. 11 were committed in the name of Islam, Islam is a large and diverse religion. It is a gross misrepresentation to associate a small number of fanatics with all of Islam. The writers of this viewpoint think it’s vital that Americans understand that the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001 were carried out by radical extremists motivated by fear and hate — a description that doesn’t include most of the wide array of Muslims across the world. We have been appalled by all of these events as well as the support that these anti-Muslim extremists have received from the American public.

Signs of anti-Muslim sentiments are taking root on university campuses in this area. At Michigan State University, a Quran was burned and left on the steps of a local mosque. Pages from the book were spread throughout the campus. Even here in Ann Arbor, some Muslim students have been the victims of hateful actions. Our campus community should act now before the hate gets worse.

As members of JStreetU, we are dedicated to finding a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To achieve this, there must be mutual respect on both sides. Because many locations in the Middle East are considered holy by all three Abrahamic religions, peace in this region can’t come without mutual religious respect. Pervasive anti-Muslim sentiments are a major issue prohibiting a peaceful agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. If America — which is leading the peace talks at the moment — can’t bring its citizens to appreciate Muslim citizens, then our nation has no place at the bargaining table. As Americans, we want to be present in creating a solution. This requires an end to negative Muslim stereotypes and violence against Muslims at home to make peace abroad.

Starting right now, the University’s chapter of JStreetU is joining over 50 campuses across the country in a massive campaign to fight anti-Muslim hate acts and speech across America. We have started a petition that aims at raising awareness on campus and becoming a presence in this important national conversation. This fight is important to us as students, to the campus community and to our nation. Most importantly, the fight against anti-Islam sentiments is important to the peace process.

JStreetU calls upon the University campus to join this effort for unity in this time of division. Campus leaders — Muslim and non-Muslim, religious and non-religious — should join together as a unified force to fight unfair stereotypes and actions. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. Joining our campaign will bring us one step closer to developing a safe and supportive community for all students.

The University community prides itself on its inclusiveness. JStreetU aims to make that ideal a reality. People will notice a unified movement to stop hateful stereotypes. Americans will take a moment and reconsider their abusive stance towards Muslims and recognize the need for respect for all.

Sign our petition and join us. Please contact either of us at yonahl@umich.edu or aglevy@umich.edu if you are interested in joining the coalition or go to click this link to be a part of the campaign.

Yonah Lieberman is the outreach chair of the University’s chapter of JStreetU and Alex Levy is a co-chair of JStreetU.

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