I can’t express how angry I was to read that an innocent Muslim woman had been attacked and thrown off a moving train in Melbourne this week. Immediately, I felt a mixture of rage, sadness and guilt.
Now, I’m not going to bang on about the injustice that took place. Although the act proved that there are still a number of Australians with misguided views on Islam, I like to think these people are few. Judging from my friends, family and acquaintances, most people are able to separate terrorist groups like ISIS from Islam, and recognize that mass generalization is entirely unfair and false.
However, there are Australians who don’t share this belief. And although they are few, hostility and violence against innocent people is occurring. It saddens me to think – as I do – that this Islamaphobic reaction stems from racism that, for some, has started to appear just.
The #NotinMyName campaign aims to educate the world about the difference between ISIS and Islam. Muslims, wanting to distance themselves from terrorist groups are speaking up and stressing that these acts of terrorism are not part of their beliefs.
However, some followers of Islam are offended by the campaign. Mehreen Faruqi at The Guardian writes, ‘I know the actions of ISIS are #NotInMyName, and I won’t be pressured to apologize for them.’
Faruqi is completely entitled to her opinion. And, although I disagree with her premise, I’m in no way allowed to think that she should take part in the campaign. I understand that, for her, having to make the distinction between herself and a terrorist could feel completely degrading.
Although education through the campaign is important, it’s unfortunate that people like Faruqi have to even consider defending their innocence. But in a way, I feel the need to defend mine, to distance myself from the Australians who would victimize an innocent person based on misguided beliefs or racial prejudice – not because I want to apologize, but because I want to show the world that I won’t stand for this behavior.
It sickens me to think that my city is becoming a place where people are unfairly unsafe, where Muslim women are targeted because an uneducated person thinks that their cultural and religious clothing makes them a part of a terrorist group that could not be further from their beliefs. It makes me sick to think that some may be using this ignorance as an outlet for their racism.
I can’t do anything to stop terrorism. But I can stress that ostracizing an innocent person based on their religious or cultural beliefs is a social issue that needs to be addressed. I’ll do what I can and show solidarity against those who would generalize a culture based on unfounded beliefs. No Australian, regardless of religion, should feel unsafe in my city.
ISIS is not Islam. Victimization of innocent people? #NotInMyName.