Posted: 23th Oct 2014
I felt extremely troubled in school today after recent events in Canada and I hope you can listen to me for a little, because I need to get this off of my chest.
I live in Canada and attend a Catholic school. Everything has been going well for me, and I’m treated normally; there’s no hatred here. However, I’m constantly feeling the pressure of representing Islam (I wear a scarf with pride so its pretty obvious I’m a Muslim). As a result, I took it upon myself to learn the Quran (English translation, some history, etc.). It was very helpful and my faith grew immensely as a result.
However, these days it has become HUGE pressure on me to prove to people that Islam is not a terrorist religion. People say things to me all the time, things like “Why aren’t you doing anything to stop it?” or “Silence means you agree,” or “Why don’t you protest?” and they can’t understand that its hard for a 16 year old girl to just randomly get up and arrange a protest, or how embarrassing and time-consuming that is.
Today, a girl watched me put on my scarf in the washroom and she wouldn’t take her eyes off of me. When I greeted her, she responds with, “So…the attack in Ottawa; terrible, eh?” I agreed with her, and expressed my condolences, but she wouldn’t accept it, just kept glaring at me. I told her, “I know what you’re implying, by the way,” and just left with a heavy heart.
It really, REALLY disheartens me that a lot of the terrorist attacks done around the world just “happen” to be done by Muslims, and although I know that a lot of the time the media is labeling people, I’m sick and tired of them being labeled as “jihadist”or “militant” or “part of ISIS” or whatever. It is extreme pressure on me, when we talk about terrorists in religion class and the whole class looks at me.
Just the other day, my religion teacher was talking to me, and I asked about her trip (during previous years, we didn’t do it this year) to other worship places (its a world religions class). The first thing she tells me is that at a Masjid, an imam came up to their class and told them they were going to hell for being Christian.
How do I speak out against this behavior? How do I protect Islam when many Muslims refuse to show tolerance to other faiths, refuse to educate others, are uneducated themselves? How do I prove that Islam is not a militant religion when the news is proving me otherwise? I know I can never win these debates, can never prove people wrong, but I know in my heart that its not true. I know in my heart that Islam is peaceful, that our prophet is peaceful, and that will never change, but I also know that if I debated with someone about (for example) the topic, “Does religion cause war?” or something of the like, then I will lose…miserably. (And by the way, that is a debate that will take place in school in a few weeks for our religion project, and as they are allowed to use media to convince the class, I am extremely scared. Another debate that will take place is “Are Muslims and other Arabs shown unfairly in media” and I am deathly afraid of what the con side will use to convey their point).
I’m sick and tired of having to deal with this, being called a “silent majority” I’ve tried, I really have, to set up protests but being a student in grade 11 its hard for me. I wish our Muslim community would speak out more, perhaps hold some form of education day, and would protest in Canada.
I really don’t know what to do. Its a heavy burden on my chest, just typing this, just thinking about it everyday. I’m nervous going to school everyday now because after the terrorist attack in Ottawa (by a white Canadian guy named Michael who just “happened” to be part of ISIS, which I think is a total lie), people’s eyes just follow me everywhere.
I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to think. I know that a solution is out of the question, but I just wanted to share this, and I hope there are Muslims who feel the same. I just want someone to listen, and I want our community to take some action, hold a protest or an education day, SOMETHING that will show people that we disagree with the actions of ISIS.
Thank you, and Salam.