Banff, Alberta. Canada 2015
I know for a fact that many people who are close to me were concerned about me fleeing home to study in an art school, especially it being in a relatively more liberal environment. They were concerned of my safety as I was in a place where I, who chose to visually identify myself as part of a certain community, am considered a minority. They were concerned of me not only fleeing home but also my identity or rebelling against what was thought as the norms throughout my upbringing.
It is no secret that; I too, was afraid about my own safety judging by what the media has been presenting to me. It also hasn’t been as easy as I may have projected it to be. However, I’ve probably been most grateful and learnt more about my identity in a place where I’m a minority. We all have heard about the stigma that the media has suppresses on certain groups within our community – not just Muslims as a matter of fact. But, have you heard what Muslims have said about what the media have projected?
With no disrespect to my fellow Muslims, it is not uncommon to hear, “westerners (or non-Muslims) are so ignorant that they think we’re all terrorists.”
Have we ever thought that ignorance occur both ways simultaneously amongst ourselves? Let alone religious communities, but us as humans, we too sometimes feel prejudice towards a certain someone. When someone commits a crime and claimed it to be in the name of Islam, we Muslims put on our defenses through our words, actions or most of the time, Facebook statuses. I find this a very natural act to do, but sometimes I wonder, do we really have to?
When a non-Muslim commits a crime and their race or beliefs is not mentioned, it is not uncommon to hear a fellow Muslim mumbling something along the lines, “if this criminal was a Muslim, they would have called him a ‘terrorist’”. Well, that did not happen. Why do we need to create an even more negative vibe? Throughout my two years experience in Vancouver, Canada – a very diverse environment – Alhamdulillah, I have not and hopefully will not experience discrimination based on my visual presentation of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I do acknowledge that harassments, oppressions and struggles have happened to my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe. I pray for us all to always have Allah’s protection, ameen. I am deeply saddened and understand how it would feel because it could have easily been me. I do acknowledge that during this heated situation and rise in Islamophobia, I too feel very insecure and became a lot more sensitive to little things. However, raising extra negativity will not solve the problem but rather create a paradoxical hatred.
From what I have seen so far, we are sometimes so drowned in what we think is right and also the negative things that are pinned down upon our throats. This usually leads us to ignore the positivity that is still present in our surroundings. I live in a city where it’s blessed with open minded, respectful and tolerant inhabitants. Being here has made me more aware and conscious about my own identity through how I want to behave and how I am expected to behave. This has influenced me in my behavioral decisions that I mostly showcase towards my actions rather than words and that’s how I enjoy spreading my positivity towards others. (Although some of you know that I do talk a lot too).
In regards to the Paris tragedy, I have had a couple friends or acquaintances who reached out to me personally to show their ongoing support for me. We have to remember that there are still those around us who are able to appreciate us as individuals and not the stereotypes that we have been labeled with. We also need to remember to appreciate those people and unfollow irrelevant accounts on social media.