SHAFAQNA – Secured to my backpack is a pin with the invitation: “I’m a Muslim — ask me about Islam.” I placed it there as a college sophomore in 2011. It was a helpful way to encourage dialogue between myself and fellow students at Providence College, many of whom did not know a Muslim personally. It has been there ever since.
But I’ve been struggling this week with whether I should keep it, in light of the skyrocketing hate crimes against Muslims after the Paris terrorist attacks, including a call to “burn your local mosque” posted on the Facebook page of one of New England’s biggest mosques.
Along with our global community, I stand in solidarity with the people of France during this difficult time. Along with the majority of the Muslim community, I abhor that Islam is being used to justify what it does not stand for.
My heart is heavy with the loss and trauma resulting from this act of terrorism, and how its pain will be felt in the coming months and years on the individual and national scale. Yet while it is heartening to see solidarity for Paris — as anyone deserves in the face of terror — I’m also disheartened that non-Western victims of the same terrorism in Lebanon, Kenya, and Nigeria have not been recipients of that solidarity.
One of the goals of radical Islamic terrorist groups is to divide Muslims and the rest of the world. The disparity in our concern for victims of terrorism, depending on the country attacked and the dominant religion, inadvertently feeds into their narrative.