In the wake of unimaginable devastation, it is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I know it has been a terrible, traumatic week for people everywhere. Photos of candlelight vigils, a surplus of prayers, and thousands of positive messages have been shared across every social media platform out there. The human race has been coping together, by standing together. And it’s a beautiful thing, really. But, I think it’s time we become aware of the increased tension that now exists within our society.
It is a well-known fact that the November 13 Paris attacks were carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Syria, or ISIL/ISIS—a militant group, self-proclaimed to be a caliphate and Islamic state. These radicals use Islam as a basis for their propaganda, and they use the religion to elevate themselves around the globe.
The organization claimed responsibility for the attacks immediately, but we all know that we didn’t need a declaration to figure out who committed these atrocities. Everyone assumed that it had to be the acts of Muslims—those rag-headed, sand-kissers who find so much joy in killing innocents.
Ever since ISIS claimed responsibility for the onslaught—hell, ever since 9/11/01—Muslims have been persecuted because of their religious beliefs. We see it everywhere. Muslims are considered radical extremists by millions of people around the world, and there are just too many people who are ignorant, and refuse to understand Islam. It’s the truth, and it’s something we must accept. However, this does not mean that the hostility is justifiable in the public (or anywhere else for that matter). This does not mean that we should keep our mouths shut when a Muslim woman is being harassed in public for wearing a hijab. This does not mean that we should sit back, and not say anything when blatant racism/xenophobia exists within our society.
I must admit, I find this backlash to be somewhat amusing. One would assume that with social media, people would at least try to understand Islam before forming their opinions about the religion. But, that just isn’t the case. The hatred that had been buried deep within the core of our society after 9/11, has resurfaced yet again. And it’s worse this time around.
Want to know why?
It’s because social media exists. Now-a-days it is easy to share your opinions via Facebook or Twitter without being forced into a physical confrontation. Frankly, it is a cowardly thing to do , but it’s just the way our world works. Last night, I was registered to attend an NYU event sponsored by its Islamic Center, called “Going Viral: Changing the Muslim Narrative through Media”. The lecture was intended to spread awareness about social media, and how we could use it to our advantage.
Unfortunately, I was not able to sit in on the presentation, but the entire premise of the event is what inspires me to blog every day. I use this public platform—WordPress—to share my opinions, and to try to eliminate the ignorance that exists within our world.
It’s the hashtags like #IStandWithAhmed, #MeccaLive, and #MuslimApologies that have taken social media by storm. And it’s these little things that can have such a monumental impact on millions of lives.
From blaming a Syrian refugee for involvement in the attacks, to blaming every Muslim in the world for promoting violence through practicing Islam, there have been an abundance of accusations in the media. People just love blaming other people. It’s in our nature, but it is also something that we can change. What I’m basically getting at is that we should USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE AWARENESS. That’s the entire purpose of it, and it can be used to help reduce the prejudice we—Muslims, African Americans, and other minorities—face in society.
I know it is unfair that we have to constantly defend our religion, and I know many Muslims out there feel like they shouldn’t have to do this. But, if no one participates in the conversation, our voices will be drowned out by imbeciles like Donald Trump. And we sure as hell don’t want that to happen.
The hate that Muslims have been experiencing over the past few days has been unreal. It’s been a tough week, and it hasn’t been easy for any of us. Us—as in my fellow members of society who are grieving for the loss of the 130 victims who died by the hands of terrorists, and us—as in my Muslim brothers and sisters who have been subject to intense animosity over the past few days. I’ve experienced the hostility personally, and I know that it’s wrong on so many levels.
So, please. Try to remember that we are one human race, and we must band together to combat ISIS. We must strike directly into the heart of hatred by using social media to help people understand. And although it has been a long, overdue struggle, we must converge to eradicate the bigotry that exists within our world.
P.S. THIS IS AN AMAZING VIDEO OF REZA ASLAN TALKING ABOUT ISLAM AND VIOLENCE. It’s safe to say that he destroys both of these CNN news anchors’ views on Islam. WATCH HERE.
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