California shooting sparks conversation about Islamic stereotypes

California shooting sparks conversation about Islamic stereotypes

There are a number of different ways people react to mass shootings. For Saideh Jamshidi, the images and videos from California after a San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people and injured 21 are hard to watch for many different reasons.

“Anytime this is any kind of terrorist activity, I always say, “Oh, please God, please God don’t be Muslim,” said American-Iranian journalist Saideh Jamshidi “It hurts a lot, because I think many of us do not want to be identified by those acts and that’s why we are here. That’s why I’m here, why many people I know are here, because for good we left that all behind. Many of those hardships, censorship, regimes, to come here and to live in peace and prosperity and live in this beautiful western enlightenment.”

Authorities believe the suspects, a Muslim husband and wife, may have been radicalized, but Jamshidi doesn’t want those acts to be the only thing people associate with the Muslim faith.

“Please do not think that Islam is only this book and this culture. Its tradition, Islamic tradition, Islamic art, we are talking about the whole range of Islam, it’s just not a tiny part of extremism Islam,” Jamshidi said.

Showing the world the untold stories of Muslim culture, Jamshidi works in Madison as a journalist. As the head of her own news website, she writes about Muslim women and lifestyle to fight against Islamophobia.

“I call it peace journalism, (to write) in a way that is understandable for people and introduce so many, many different kinds of Muslims that are doing amazing jobs,” Jamshidi said.

It’s more than just telling stories for Jamshidi. She wants to start a conversation to bridge the gap to understanding.

“It’s a beautiful two cultures. We have western enlightenment and Islamic civilization. Yes, there can be a clash, but at the same time it can be a dialogue discussion and opportunities,” Jamshidi said.

She believes to change the dialogue in Madison and across the country, a dialogue needs to be started to engage in education and religious tolerance programs to be able to begin to change cultural stereotypes.

“It’s a real fear, at the moment, especially for woman that are covering and men who decide to have a different appearance. So, I’m really looking forward to see how we are going to change the narrative. It’s going to happen, it must happen.”