As more and more terrorist attacks occur all over the world, fear looms over us like a gray monster. People fear for their lives. Their country. Their loved ones. But most of all, many people fear the Muslims around them, or the people who kind of resemble Muslims. A man is seen wearing a turban–he gets thrown around and run over by a driver who calls him a terrorist. A woman is seen wearing a hijab–FEMEN marches in and pulls it off, declaring the hijab an garment of oppression that makes patriarchy invisible to the woman and promotes bloody murder of other women. Islamophobia.
I observed Islamophobia once at a school. There was a girl, a quite friendly one, who was wearing a hijab. Someone asked why she wore it, and the girl said it was for religious reasons. Muslim reasons. The people around her actually didn’t make a big deal about her religion, but the girl did go on to say it often got extremely quiet whenever she said she was a Muslim. “I’m not a terrorist!”
Of course she wasn’t, because she’d been at the school for three years straight and school was gonna end soon (she was an eighth grader, meaning she would graduate soon). If she were a terrorist, the school would probably have blown up already. She wouldn’t have been in the school to begin with, since terrorists are quite ethnocentric and the school was diverse.
On Friday we all heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris, all done in the name of God/Allah. My Twitter is chock full and bursting with tweets adorned with #PeaceforParis, #terrorism, #Paris, and any hashtags related to that event.
Looking at these horrible murderous acts, one would come to think this: where are the Muslims condemning these terrorist acts? Muslims say they are part of a peaceful religion. So why aren’t they speaking up more? Don’t they care enough about us?
I noticed that there weren’t that many Muslims condemning attacks on TV and other media too, but I did not jump to the conclusion that Muslims for the most part have remained silent. I suspected that they were really out there taking collective action–after all, I’d read that Muslim scholars have frequently denounced terrorism. So why not all the other Muslims? From experience, I’ve found out that there are so many things that are shouting for attention, but so many people are unaware of it.
And I was correct: Muslims have slammed repeatedly these attacks. Many have formed groups working actively to combat terrorism and have even put up sites. Just go look up “Muslims against terrorism” on Google.
Bam. Bam. Bam. They were all there, all there on Google search results. Muslims marching with signs condemning ISIS and al-Qaeda. Muslim sites working with government to eliminate terrorism. Muslims quoting the Quran in saying terrorists are not true Muslims. It’s all there, and such Muslim organizations should have garnered enough attention. But they didn’t, because people are easily prejudiced. Some people–the minority–go and do a bad thing. Due to humans’ sorting instinct, people jump to the conclusion that everyone from that group is bad. It’s easier to think that way because damage has more of an influence on us and the brain is organized more neatly when it sorts things into groups. Anything that contradicts that conclusion is easily ignored because of the prejudice in people’s brains. The prejudice builds a wall that serves to block out diversity, nuances, and understanding between different social and ethnic groups. Prejudice dictates that the world must be seen in black and white rather than shades of gray, or better yet, the whole rainbow. Sorting is best in survival, where everyone’s up against everyone else. But civilized society is not the Hunger Games, and that is where sorting poses problems that are hard to overcome. The media, in its zeal to paint a narrative in which Muslims are villains and everyone else is a hero, has conveniently ignored and muffled the Muslims who are actually on the peaceful side.
But you can still find things covered up by the mainstream. They’re still there, only covered up. You just need to know where to look.