A layered 15 years marked by a roller coaster that speeds from attack, public outrage, media sensitization, hijabi hate-crime incident, opportunistic politicians coming out of the woodwork, more hate crimes — followed by a little calm and a glimpse of hope.
But then before you know it, it happens all over again. And every time a tragedy hits labeled “terrorism,” you find yourself transported once again into the 15-year-old you sitting in English class watching the Twin Towers fall, selfishly thinking, “please don’t be Muslims.”
As Muslims that are and/or have become part of the Western landscape, whether by ancestry, choice, circumstance or force, we have come to be intimately familiar with carrying the weight of more than a billion people on our shoulders.
In those 15 years, we've had the annihilation of 3,000 lives in NYC, the bombings in London, the murders of children in Beslan, the multiple assaults in France which resulted in hundreds of deaths and so many more to list. But all that death and carnage pales in comparison to the amputated feelings of Muslims in the West.
The manner in which the popular narrative of “Muslim” is constructed and juxtaposed to “terrorism” is such that it pushes us into spaces where we are made to immediately and intensely feel our Muslim-ness as the ultimate “incomprehensible Other.”
That should be the "reprehensible Other".
Living in a narrowly constructed caricature of the “scary unintelligible subject” is not simply an issue of living in constant conversation with an ill-informed stereotype. That, of course, is a major issue — but what’s more fundamentally at issue is our ability to simply feel, to simply be.
We need to prioritize our communities; prioritize our young people; prioritize our visible Muslimah out there facing a vicious brand of gendered Islamophobia; prioritize our over-securitized brothers who are going to need to stay resilient and collected in the regular routine of ‘random’ security checks that have become their life; prioritize our community workers and activists who put themselves out there fighting the good fight everyday; prioritize our little ones that are going to hear remarks made in school about their identity and history that they are not going to know what to do with; prioritize our poor and highly racialized parts of our community that do not have the luxury of taking the day off, or resources to deal with the layered battles of classism, racism and Islamophobia.
So brave. 15 years of increasing Islamic assaults on the West and not one word against the evil core of his religion. Not one word against his demented coreligionists who keep slaughtering innocents every damn day. It's all about BadFeelz and the super bad, classist, racist, Islamophobic West. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a pukka moderate Muslim.