OKLAHOMA CITY — Chaos is still unfolding in Afghanistan because of the Taliban takeover, and countries around the world are preparing for the possibility of receiving refugees.
In Oklahoma, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which advocates for Muslims in the U.S., wants to use this opportunity to stop what they say is the spread of falsehoods toward refugees, American Muslims and the religion of Islam itself.
“We don’t want them to feel like they’re going to become the target of hate speech in the future because of what’s going on overseas,” said Lani Habrock, government affairs director of CAIR.
Habrock told KOCO 5 that a lot of hate is sparked when people use terminology incorrectly. For instance: When referring to the Taliban, it’s not a religion.
“I heard them refer to the Taliban as Islamists, and that’s incorrect language. And they, the Taliban, should not be defined by a religion.”
Another misused word is “jihadist.”
“It’s not a militant word, and it is often used, and it creates negative views in people’s minds about the Muslim community,” Habrock said.
CAIR recently sent a letter to the Oklahoma legislature to educate the state’s elected officials on the appropriate usage of terminology when referring to Islam and Muslims.
“To use that language just points the finger at the Muslim people and causes polarization rather than encouraging empathy and love for the people who are really fighting for their lives right now,” Habrock said.