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Starbucks barista writing “ISIS” on a Muslim’s drink, named Aisha, is no mistake – it’s deep-rooted bigotry in USA.

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“You picked a side after 9/11 I didn’t have to. It was picked for me”

– Riz Ahmed, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

To this day, the quote remains true. Aishah, that’s a common name right? A name you will frequently hear in Muslims families or given to the Muslim characters in a book or a movie. Aishah and ISIS. Say that again Aishah and ISIS, are they a pair of homophones? Aishah and ISIS repeat that until you know the difference between the two.

Then why does barista in Starbucks writes ISIS on her cup even when the lady named Aisha repeated her name several times to make it clear. This lady of nineteen in Minnesota, USA wears a hijab. On July 1, she entered Starbucks inside the St. Paul-Midway Target. Telling her name to the Barista multiple times what she got written on her cup was ISIS. When she complained about it they quickly dismissed her offering a new drink and a $25 gift card. Very kind of you, sir.

Target in an announcement said it was “very sorry for this guest’s experience at our store” and said representatives “immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation.”

“We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with more clarification,” the statement continued. “We’re taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”

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“Deliberate act” of writing a terrorist group’s name on a coffee mug. A Muslim girl clad in Hijab comes to them saying to write ISIS on her cup, and they do it effortlessly?
“There is absolutely no way she [the barista] could have heard it as ‘ISIS,’ ” Aishah told CNN. “Aishah is not an unknown name, and I repeated it multiple times.”
“The moment I saw it, I was overwhelmed with a lot of emotions. I felt belittled and so humiliated. This is a word that shatters the Muslim reputation all over the world. I cannot believe that in this day and age, something like this can be considered acceptable. It isn’t okay.”

In the United States of America, this is not an isolated act. How anti-Muslim Americans are, you can find it with the polls. In a poll conducted by YouGov on the number of Americans having an unfavourable opinion of Islam. Nearly “40℅” of the people aged 18-29 had an unfavourable opinion of Islam.

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Picture Credits- YouGov.

Another data reported from different countries shows the USA has the highest number of people who say western societies do not respect Muslims.

Picture Credits- News Gallup Center

Whether you weave it with Muslims or Islam, the discriminatory acts and biased opinions remain on the summit for the USA.

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This will take you to another preconceived thought- 9/11 is the major factor for this discrimination. But is it so?

During the Iraq-War, the invocation hosted by Rev. Franklin Graham in George Bush’s inauguration, Franklin remarked: “Islam–unlike Christianity—has among its basic teachings an intolerance for those who follow other faiths.” 

The campaign by media to garner support for the war is seen as one of the vital reason for the anti-muslim sentiments. According to an ABCNews/Belief Net poll, between January and November of 2002 the percentage of the public that had an unfavourable impression of Islam, believed Islam doesn’t teach respect for other faiths and perceived Islam encouraged violence went up between 9 and 13 percentage points.
In March of 2001, eight months before the attacks of September 11th, 45% of Americans had favourable opinions of Muslim Americans and 24% had unfavourable opinions. Two months after the attacks, American opinion of US Muslims actually improved, soaring fourteen points to 59% favourable and 17% unfavourable. ( Pew research centre)

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Credit: Pew Research Center

Leaders as you have seen matter more than the events. Islamophobia remains deeply rooted in American society. Research shows how it was alive even in the 19th Century when traders use to bring African slaves to their country. Islamophobia isn’t something new. It was concocted several times for personal, political and other incentives.

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Snatching a woman’s hijab by calling it a sign of oppression has been yet another incident often transpired in America and various European countries as well. Where is liberty when it strips a person from her choice?

Minnesota, the same place which was a few weeks ago scarred by the brutal death of George Floyd- Another case flourishing from discriminatory nature. To repeat such an act in the same place reverberates the heights of freedom provided to certain people the culmination of which has stopped surprising us.

If you stop for a moment, a tad bit of moment and ponder on the human rights violation people suffer daily, you will realise it has almost become a routine. The rights which were embedded in the very soul of democracy are slowly and painfully being tarnished with every little act- and we have been quiet all along.

It can only cease only if you speak Aisha and ISIS, if you repeat Aisha and ISIS and if you know the difference between Aisha and ISIS.

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