Whilst I don’t often speak publicly about my opinions regarding topics of controversy, an issue that has truly unsettled me is the rising amount of discrimination and hostility towards the Islamic community – particularly considering recent terrorist attacks.
Being subjected to abominable treatment because of the pigmentation of their skin and their religious beliefs is bad enough; finding it necessary to change how they look and their birth-name just to stop themselves from being condemned to such undeserved treatment is even worse. Nobody should feel ashamed of who they are and what they believe in – not unless they are the person making others lives detestable.
It breaks my heart to see endless stories of children, no older than ten-years-old, being sentenced to unruly bullying that doesn’t just upset them in that moment but stays with them for life. No child deserves to grow up questioning their religious-identity and trying to piece together their shattered self-esteem. In a world where globalisation is prime and the interconnectedness between different communities is flourishing, we should be eager to learn about and respect differences in beliefs, lifestyles and cultures.
In all circumstances, we view this hostility as uncalled for and racist at the best of times. If we watch the news and see that there’s been a string of serial murders carried out by a five-foot-four, white and brunette man, we don’t assume that every five-foot-four, white and brunette man is a serial-murderer. So, why is it normalised for people to assume that those who are of Asian descent are terrorists? Might I add that this is based on the actions of a minority who hold fundamentalist views that aren’t true to Islam.
The individuals who are to blame for this conflict have had their opinions shaped by the events of the past two decades – 9/11, 7/7, anti-Islamic far-right across Europe, horrific murder of Lee Rigby and the acts of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – alongside racist, scaremongering comments on social media and false ‘facts’ regarding Islam. The events have propelled hatred towards ordinary Muslims who attempt to go about their ordinary lives in peace whilst also fuelling those who are desperate to argue that this conflict – Islamophobia – is non-existent.
Take a glance at the acts of violence and hatred committed by the KKK – all of whom are primarily Christian, yet I have never read a story about a child being bullied for their belief in Christianity. I have not seen the Christian community be marginalised and mocked publicly and I have certainly not been witness to any Christian be accused of being a terrorist because of the actions of the KKK. Why should this be the case for Islam?
In whatever way that racism has been integrated into someone’s life, perpetrator or victim, it is becoming increasingly evident that we have a society which needs informing and that education regarding these issues is necessary. Attitudes must change, and misconceptions addressed. People need to immerse themselves in society and within their communities and tackle the processes that are exclusion, inequality and isolation. Just as feminism isn’t only for women, equality isn’t just for those from a specific ethnic, religious or cultural background. Everyone, no matter their appearance or practices, is deserving of compassion, respect and equality – this must be embraced by everyone.