It’s time to allow children safe spaces where they don’t have to worry about what’s going on in this world.
Last night’s terrible attack in Manchester is yet another indication that violence knows no boundaries. Coming at the heels of President’s Trump’s visit abroad to the Middle East, this attack also serves as a reminder than terrorism is not a function or religion, nor vice versa. As a brown, immigrant Muslim living in the United States, there is much I want to say every time lives are lost anywhere in the world, and I face the collective burden of answering for the actions of killers. Here are some important reminders as we see the events unfolding this week:
- More than a billion Muslims are not responsible for the actions of a few bad guys. Yes, this bears repeating because despite common sense, many on social media are asking what I, the 41-year-old Muslim mom is doing for this tragedy. The problem is that the average Muslim is expected to do something to prove that they are not part of the terrorist group, which doesn’t make sense considering that Christians aren’t asked to prove they’re not part of the KKK.
What's happened at #ManchesterArena is horrific. If a Muslim did it, he must be punished. But the other 1.7 billion of us must not.
— Saadia PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING PLEASE Faruqi (@SaadiaFaruqi) May 23, 2017
- The reality, however, is that Muslims do combat terrorism in a number of ways: they write articles and books, they train others, and they participate in military efforts such as the army in Iraq, and use both their words and actions to fight against terrorists. But for those critics who want to see the actual protests, please know that we do those too. Muslims protest the acts of those who malign our faith every single day, but the media hardly covers it. One Muslim girl, sick of the accusations, created a 700 page list to prove that Muslims do indeed protest terrorism.
- Muslims are the biggest victims of terrorism. While British children being killed at a concert is nothing less of a tragedy, we have to remember that Muslim children (and adults) are killed in vast numbers by extremist groups and individuals. In 2014 more than 140 children were killed in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The vast number of people killed in Turkey, Iraq, Bangladesh, and elsewhere all target Muslims. This should be a very clear indication that the majority of Muslims hate ISIS and other extremist groups just as much as anyone else.
- Muslim children in America and Europe are bearing the brunt of revenge for acts committed by extremist groups. The incidents of bullying increase after every terrorist attack, as explained by this report. And this one. The fact that we are able to blame innocent children, or even expect them to answer for the actions of other people, says much about our societal expectations and the state of our bigotry. It’s time to allow children safe spaces where they don’t have to worry about what’s going on in this world.
- Our politicians, including our president, condemns terrorism in the strongest terms while selling arms to Saudi Arabia. As explained in The Great Theft, Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, scholar Abou Fadl explains how decades of Wahhabism has influenced extremist ideologies in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, leading to many of the problems we have today. Let’s make sure that we halt these ideologies by halting our financial support, otherwise all we have are empty words.
- Our main source of what Islam allegedly teaches is the news media, which is never accurate or meaningful. If you want to know whether Islam really condones violence (it doesn’t) or whether Muslims think killing infidels is justified (they don’t), it’s better to ask a Muslim, or even read a book or two. Many cities have interfaith groups or lectures by Muslim thinkers. If that’s not possible, reading a book or two from this list may be helpful.