Disclaimer: I don’t presume to speak for anybody or represent anyone . I don’t claim any expertise or specialized knowledge about anything other than what my own experiences have taught me.
I wasn’t going to write about this but I don’t see how I can’t. I have been holding my words in for a very long time it seems.
For clarity’s sake: I’m from Fiji and my ancestors were indentured servants (three or so generations ago) brought from India by British colonizers.
The Chapel Hill shootings brought to head many of the feelings that have been simmering in the West, fanned by writing and ideologies of many many freedom speakers most of whom identify themselves as atheists or non-atheists. The mainstream media largely ignored the shootings because hey, Muslim deaths don’t mean anything to anyone who matters and only when social media shamed them did they report on the incident. Still, no one wants to even whisper the word “Islamophobia” because to admit to it would be to take responsibility for the incidents, for inciting the hatred that took three innocent lives and everyone likes sleeping at night.
A few weeks ago I was attacked on Twitter by vicious people who behind the anonymity the internet grants them called me names and threatened me simply for voicing my opinions about the Charlie Hebdo incident. Ironically, hypocritically, they were doing the same thing to me that they were railing against: silencing the freedom of speech. It seems that freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the freedom to practice religion only runs one way. The Chapel Hill shootings illustrates this very clearly.
Being Muslim, I’m supposed to feel apologetic, denounce and condemn everything every time someone who may be Muslim does something wrong. When the person committing the crime is not someone I know, and not someone I share anything with, no, not even my religion because people who do crap like that pervert the meaning of the words in the Quran. Why should I have to voice my condemnation as if I would do anything else but? I mean, obviously I don’t and cannot condone the murder of innocents anywhere. Are all atheists being asked to condemn the Chapel Hill shootings? No, because only sick people would condone it.
Last year I decided to start wearing the hijab (I’ve talked about this elsewhere so I won’t get into it). I wear the hijab for personal reasons and not because I was indoctrinated or brainwashed into it. I’m not being forced to wear it. But I realized for the first time that wearing the hijab may very well be painting a target on my face. I live in Canada where people usually ignore my hijab or express curiousity about it. But there have been incidents where people passing me say something nasty under their breaths so only they and I are witnesses to their bigotry. I have people not wanting to sit next to me on the transit because apparently my hijab is contaminating.
It always surprises me how people see the Muslim in you but not the human. They strip us of all things that make us human, create us an “other,” someone they can vilify and treat like crap simply because we are perceived dangerous even when the majority of us do nothing but try to live our lives in the best way we know how.
The most sobering thing about the Chapel Hill Shooting was that Deah, Razan and Yousor could have been me and my family. Me and my friends.
There are people who quote the Quran, certain verses from certain surahs without knowing the context or history behind them claiming that this is why Islam is a violent religion. They justify their vitriol against Islam using these quotations. What’s chilling is that this is exactly how fundamentalists are created. Taking things out of context to justify, vilify and spur into action.