life and other dramas

Because I Can’t Keep Silent Anymore

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.



8 thoughts on “Because I Can’t Keep Silent Anymore

  1. Thank you for your beautiful post. There is much to be said about these shootings, but most of the people who are being heard are white. I’m glad that a person of that faith is standing up and telling us of the injustice in the world, because, unfortunately, the voices are too few, and drowned out by opposing voices.
    I’m so sorry that you have to go through such things simply for what you believe in. I myself am an atheist, but I find your dedication to your religion to be beautiful, and most importantly, courageous, because of your will to celebrate your faith in public, despite the attacks against you.
    I’m always in awe of you, and find you to be an inspiration. Your voice is strong and I hope that it will be heard by more than just me.
    – Jess <3

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Islamophobia. I actually nearly got into an argument with my (white, Christian) father over how ridiculous it is, particularly considering that Christians have their own brandS of fundamentalism, and Christianity does not get NEARLY as bad of a rap as Islam. It kills me when I hear Christians sobbing about how their religion is being vilified, yet you don’t see innocent Christian people getting murdered for the actions of the crazy people who bomb abortion clinics. In fact, if the shoe was on the other foot and this was a hate crime perpetuated against Christianity by an atheist, I’m willing to bet that the media would be ALL over it the second that it happened. Absolutely disgusting. People need to wake up and start educating themselves and questioning things.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m happy that you voiced your thoughts though sad we live in a world where you needed to speak out against such horrible things. I’m pretty neutral to religion as a whole, so perhaps that makes it easier for me to classify the people who use religion as an excuse to hate all into the same category no matter which religion they use. We chatted briefly on Twitter when you changed your profile pic, but I just want to reaffirm that I think you (inside and out) are beautiful and your hijab is beautiful as well (no offense meant if it is not correct to say a hijab is pretty, I’ve always wondered that to be honest). I live under a rock called grad school (you might know it ;-) ), so your post is the first I’ve read in depth about these shootings and I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.


  4. I grew up only an hour from Chapel Hill and I was so shocked to hear about this. Especially in the south…things are really toxic towards anyone who even vaguely looks Middle-Eastern. There’s a commune near my house that’s specifically from Muslims…I don’t know much about it – I’ve heard all sorts of things so I don’t actually know what’s true or not, but regardless of whether the group IS part of a fundamentalist group or not….it’s not well regarded. At all. I worry about that – for the people who have to live in an area that’s so hostile towards anyone who isn’t white. But these days, it’s particularly aimed towards people who look Middle-Eastern. The city I live in now is predominately black and quite a few of then are Muslim, so it’s a lot more accepted where I am. In fact, my city is surprisingly liberal on all fronts, considering its location, which is one of the many reasons I love it!

    It feels like gun violence has spiraled completely out of control in America these past couple years. I know there’s been hate killings here for ages, and maybe I just didn’t pay as much attention before, but I can’t remember the last day I went without hearing about some mass killing spree because someone was white/black/Muslim/a cop/a woman.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through. As a white woman, I’ve had very little hate thrown my way because of my race, and certainly none because of my religion. To be a target because of a religious decision…I can’t even begin to understand what that’s like. I don’t have anything to offer really, except my support (and always, always my sincere interest in helping where I can).

    Liked by 1 person

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