April 3, 2018, and every April 3rd after that shall now be known as #loveamuslim day.
A day where we highlight religious freedom and a hopeful end to xenophobia after leaflets were spread around the East London area of the UK calling for xenophobes and racists alike to use this day to “punish” Muslims for their religious beliefs. Muslims and allies decided to strike back against such gross hatred with the hashtag “love a Muslim day.” On this day we aim to not only to stand by Muslims and protect them against hate but also to listen. To listen to their stories and not silence their voices with our own ideas of martyrdom and allyship. Religious persecution has pervaded our globe for far too long and it’s time to put an end to it all.
This leaflet that was spread around the streets of London and sent to people’s homes indicated a system where people could commit hate crimes for points. Points that had no meaning or value but could be earned for committing hate crimes like ripping off hijabs or “butchering Muslims with knives or vehicles.” It encouraged people to not be sheep and let “them”, meaning Muslims, overwhelm the white majority while simultaneously encouraging herd behavior by following the leaflets ideology.
It can be easy to just write this off as hate speech and think that Muslims have nothing to fear, and I wish that were factual but xenophobia is a global issue and isn’t going anywhere. Just in the UK alone, rates have increased by 40% reports the Guardian and in 2017 there was an average of 38 hate crimes daily. These are terrifying numbers that only mildly highlight the pervasive nature of this issue. With Trump’s “travel” ban that clearly targeted brown countries that were predominately Muslim and real hijabi women getting acid thrown in their faces almost every day, a stunt like this is far from funny or cute.
It’s time we begin to recognize the xenophobia in our everyday lives that are pushing this rhetoric and hateful ideology. It’s in our laws, our social ideology and even our media. Like the Disney movie Aladdin that pretends to be some inclusive movie but subtly portrays Muslim dominated countries as barbaric and misogynistic. I just find it so hypocritical for us to constantly condemn Nazis for their hate but refuse to see the very same actions in our own xenophobia. Real people are dying due to their religious beliefs. This is blatant religious persecution in addition to being incredibly racist for targeting those who “look Muslim” when Islam does not have a face.
So today we stick a huge middle finger to the hate and stand with Muslims against those who only want to inspire hate and death. I know that no matter the day I will be sure to use my voice to protect those who need it most as long as I have the privilege to do so. It’s also important to remember that the best way for you to #loveamuslim is to ensure that these acts of kindness are not just a one time thing. This should be a part of our everyday lives because Muslims are targeted every single day, whether it’s an official hate day or not. It’s also important to remember that being an ally is not your chance to speak over a narrative or claim a moment for martyrdom.
We need to step aside and let Muslims have a voice and control the narrative about their communities, all the while supporting them through it all.