It seems that American society has always had a boogieman figure, a fanged monster looming on the horizon that the whole of the United States can hate collectively. In the pre-World War II years it was the Germans and the Japanese; then, during the cold war, it was the Communists. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Arab Muslims have increasingly come to replace the Red Scare as America's new fanged monster. While the September 11th attacks in 2001 were an important contributor to this point of view, the 80s and 90s were decades in which Arabs and Muslims were increasingly portrayed in a negative light in movies, television, and in the media. Today, the situation has worsened to a degree that most Americans consider Muslims as an enemy, a threat that is completely alien to the American way of life.
Ignorance is probably the main cause of this distorted view of Islam and Muslims. The only exposure most Americans have had to Muslims comes from the acts of Muslim extremists. However, there are more than one billion Muslims in the world, of which these Muslim heretics form a tiny part. The vast majority of Muslims are appalled by the actions of terrorists and oppressive so-called Muslim governments. Judging Muslims by the actions of these heretics is equivalent to judging all Christians by members of heinous organizations like the Westboro Baptist Church, or by right-wing extremist terrorist acts like the mass murder of children and teenagers in Norway.
In the view of many Americans, Muslim immigrants in the United States are there to spread Islam around the world and attempt to enforce Shariah law on the general population. However, like most other immigrants, Muslims travel to the United States to create a new life for themselves and their loved ones and to live in dignity and freedom. The ridiculous idea of enforcing Shariah law on the general population is based on a nebulous understanding of Shariah, which has quickly become a sort of catchphrase for right-wing politicians. A code word that allows them to justify bigotry, prejudice, and racism. Most Muslim immigrants pay taxes, are productive members of society, and live quiet, productive lives among their families and friends (both Muslim and non-Muslim.)
The Qur'an strictly prohibits attempting to coerce other people into following Islam. It also condemns all forceful action that is not in self-defense. Shariah law is also a code of ethics and guidelines that is based on the Qur'an, intended for Muslims. It is completely incompatible with Islam to attempt to enforce Shariah law on a non-Muslim population. Fighting against this unfair portrayal of Islam in American society will be difficult. The best tool that Muslims have to fight the ignorance and bigotry at the base of this phenomenon is knowledge and information. Most Americans fear and hate Muslims because they have never met one.
-- Al Arabiya Digital