As a Sikh Indian-American, I have witnessed the extent of religious discrimination, whether it be the countless attempts to undermine the legitimacy of my religion or the constant pressure to fit the Anglo-conformity model. But this past year has been different, in the worst way possible. Attacks on minority religions have become even more extreme and overt. In fact, the leader of the free world who serves as the face of the most powerful country has endorsed banning people from entering certain countries. It is no coincidence that the countries under attack are Muslim-majority countries, giving the proposed ban its notorious name: the Muslim ban.
The Muslim ban is, in my opinion, the greatest threat to churchstate separation not just in the past year but in my entire lifetime. I lived through the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and saw my parents being mistaken for Muslims, which prompted many verbal attacks, but never before have I seen such a rallying cry for undisguised religious discrimination.
A powerful leader is openly endorsing a policy in the media that is born of prejudice and fear in the pretense of national security. By pushing for such a ban, the president is attacking one of the fundamental rights of our country: religious freedom. He is setting a dangerous precedent that discrimination on the sole basis of religion is acceptable, a precedent that could destabilize American society in the future.
As a member of a minority religion, I have refused to idly sit by and watch the president establish a standard of Anglo-conformity. I may not be personally affected by the Muslim ban, but I know that I can use my voice to help others practice their beliefs freely. Because of this, I decided to prepare my oratory piece for debate on conformity and the pressure immigrants face to assimilate.
In my speech, I touch upon the harmful stereotypes that people assign to Islam, which results in alienation and pressure to conform. But then I explain the beauty of diversity, whether it be racial or religious, in an attempt to persuade those listening that there is not just one right standard to adhere to. I hope to spread my message of acceptance to an even greater audience in Denver, where I have qualified to perform my oratory at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions.
One barrier I have often run into is fear, which is produced by harmful stereotypes. People often see Islam as a religion of violence, when it is truly a religion...