Throughout history people have been persecuted by their governments for their faiths. The earliest persecutions of Jews were in 1313 BCE, Atheist 428 BCE, Christians 33 CE, and Muslims in 613 CE. Persecution can take many forms from segregation, harassment, imprisonment, torture and even execution. These heinous acts are still committed today by the governments of Iran, North Korea, Iraq, and the United States of America. On July 9, 2014 Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain released NSA documents that showed that the NSA has been targeting people based on their religious orientation. The five people that were listed in the documents share three common traits: American Muslims with no criminal history. This criminal act by our government should outrage and terrify every single American who values religious freedom.

The response to this revelation has been discouraging. The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the religious community by allowing companies, Hobby Lobby, to choose to not cover abortive birth control (podcast & article on this issue). In the wake of this ruling it would be expected that the religious community would be equally outraged at the infringement of the religious freedoms of Muslims. Yet, the common phrase we all hear is, “I have nothing to hide, so why should I have anything to fear?” This response in other religious situations would not make sense: “I am not getting an abortion, so why should I care” or “I do not own a Christian company, so I have nothing to fear”. If we allow our government to target people solely based on religion then we are in part giving up our religious freedoms, because freedom is measured by the dissents not the privileged.

In the article written by Greenwald and Hussain, they explain how NSA documents, released by Edward Snowden, reveal that the NSA and FBI collaborated on targeting 5 people, because of their out spoken belief in Islam. These five American’s occupations range from two professors, an attorney, civil rights activist, and a Republican operative/candidate. The NSA and FBI had been specifically going through their personal emails for 6 years (2002-2008). When targeting a specific individual the FISA courts are only suppose to allow for 90 day surveillance, meaning that they had their operation renewed 24 times. Again none of these people have had a criminal record and the only thing that they have in common is that they are Muslims.

Since September 11, 2001 Muslim-Americans have been mistreated in the United States. They have had their house’s raided by FBI, been harassed by TSA, and even killed by military drones. If you are one who cares about people born outside of the United States, then you should be furious about our government’s mistreatment of Muslims all over the world. Our government has deemed any male between the ages of 16 and 40 in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or a so called “Strike Zone” to be considered a militant. Thus, when you hear a story like 22 militants killed in Yemen, it could have been a high school bus of boys. There are many innocent Muslims that have been killed by US drones (for more information on this watch Dirty Wars).

Through these horrific acts committed by our government there is a glimmer of hope. Many people say that history is continuously repeating itself. Hitler was defeated after his persecution of the Jews. Christians flourished during their persecution from Niro. Blacks were able to win back their rights even though the FBI continuously went after their leaders. There is hope for the Muslims that are being persecuted from our government. What is important to know is that it will take all of us to stand up for the right to religious freedom. Atheist, Christians, and Jews should all stand against the violence issued by our government. If we do not stand for them now, then who will stand for us when we are being persecuted? It is time that our generation creates a legacy.