Monday 15th November 2015, just two days after the terror attack in Paris, I was travelling to work on the train and there were two spare seats next to me, but nobody decided to take those seats, instead people preferred to stand for over 35 minutes than to sit beside me. At first I didn’t think much of it, but then I started noticing the way I was being looked at by each of the people that stepped onto the carriage. It was as if I was the one who killed the hundreds in Paris, as if I was a terrorist sympathiser, as if I was proud of the events that transpired on Friday the 13th – but then I thought to myself I’m probably just being paranoid, maybe it’s all in my head… but I was wrong. People were indeed staring at me, and that same day I read countless tweets and Facebook posts by other Muslim women; simply highlighting how they felt intimidated whilst travelling on the tube/bus. I wasn’t alone. One sister felt uncomfortable being the only person in a headscarf; another explained how two men started mumbling about Paris as soon as she stepped onto the train. So this begs the question, why are we all being painted with the same brush?
What upsets me most is that many Muslims, (male and female) will be subjected to some form of Anti-Muslim discrimination, despite the fact that thousands of Muslims are relentlessly condemning the recent attacks. Yet no matter how hard we try, there are some media outlets that will only make the hate towards the religion of Islam continue to escalate – and lets not fool ourselves, sadly there is a bigger agenda here.
As a Muslim woman, I will admit that I am scared for my safety – but I am more fearful for my female friends and family members that also wear the Hijab and my male friends and family members that have beards – I fear that they will be victimised and abused verbally or physically for crimes they have not committed, for crimes they do not condone, for crimes that they have also been affected by. I fear for the parents who will be continuously concerned about the safety of their children. I fear for the fathers and brothers that will be concerned about the wellbeing of their daughters and sisters. I fear for the sisters that will feel they can no longer wear the hijab because they are scared of being attacked.
The world needs to know that the perpetrators of these attacks are barbaric individuals who have hijacked the name of Islam, I refuse to use the term ‘Islamic State/ISIS’ for they do not represent Islam, they do not by any means propagate the teachings of Islam. It is said in the Holy Quran:
“Whoever kills a person, it is as if they have killed the whole of Mankind” The Holy Quran (5:32)
These terrorists are killing Muslims and Non-Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in many more countries around the world. One day before the deadly attack in Paris, Daesh killed over 40 innocent people in the Shia-majority district of Burj al-Barajneh (Beirut). Individuals from the same terrorist organisation beheaded 7 Hazara Shias in Afghanistan, including a young nine-year old girl who surely had dreams and aspirations like other children. Perhaps some of us have forgotten the Russian plane that was brought down by Daesh killing over 224 individuals. Muslims and Non-Muslims are both being attack and targeted by these desensitised terrorists. The numbers keep growing; these merciless attacks will not stop and our governments must revise their alliances with countries that are openly funding these terrorists. We need to stop pointing fingers at one another and address the elephant in the room.
I will not say that things will get easier for us, for we are living in very difficult and testing times – but we have to stay strong. We have Allah (swt) and we have the Ahlulbayt (a) to guide us and to protect us. To my sisters who wear Hijab and are scared; wear your Hijab with pride and do not let anything compromise it, and always remember
‘God does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear’The holy Quran (2:286)
To anyone who feels they have been a victim of Islamophobia, report it immediately: