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Islamic insight: Shutting down hate

by The Stylus
Tue, Apr 10th 2018 09:05 pm
Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST
Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST

Last week, April 3 was deemed by racist radicals in the U.K. as being “Punish a Muslim Day.” Letters spreading the message of hate and violence were strewn across the nation and across the seas to America through social media posts. The original message read:

“They have hurt you, they have made your loved ones suffer. They have caused you pain and heartache. What are you going to do about it? Are you a ‘sheep’ like the vast majority of the population? Sheep follow orders and are easily led, they are allowing the white nations of Europe and North America to become over run by those who would like nothing more than to do us harm and turn our democracies into Sharia led police states. Only you can help turn this thing around, only you have the power. Do not be a sheep!”

If you think this is disturbing, just wait. The uncultured, consciously ignorant bigots who created this message also must enjoy sick and twisted video games because attached to this outright threat of millions of people who follow branches of Islam was a point system. Like any “game,” certain acts of violence toward innocent people were rated on a point system from 10 to 2,500. These hate crimes being incited by this sick group of extremists were listed as:

10 points – Verbally abuse a Muslim

25 points – Pull the head scarf off a Muslim ‘woman’

50 points – Throw acid in face of a Muslim

100 points – Beat up a Muslim

250 points – Torture a Muslim using electrocution, skinning, use of a rack

500 points – Butcher a Muslim using gun, knife, vehicle or otherwise

1,000 points – Burn or bomb a mosque

2,500 points – Nuke Mecca

Not only were these illegal, unjust and inhumane acts being awarded points, but this widespread hate crime made sure to add motivation by mentioning that those who followed the decree would receive something for their trouble. As if terrorism, which is defined as the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion, deserves to be positively reinforced and that these people have the power to provide compensation to their fellow narrow minded felons.

Not only did this originate in the U.K., but according to affinitymagazine.us, “since March 9, when these letters were first reported, there have been at least 15 cases of these letters throughout the U.K., according to Tell MAMA, an organization tracking anti-Muslim attacks. A representative of Tell MAMA states that the mailing of these fliers were very random. Although seemingly random, at least four Muslim members of the British Parliament have received these letters.

What impacted us here, in the United States, was the spread and traction that this threat got via social media. Although social media aided the racist radicals, it also helped in combating them. Thanks to people on Twitter, the hashtag #LoveAMuslim and “Love a Muslim Day” was able to unite people from all different religions, ethnicities and cultures. The “Love a Muslim” message read:

“They love you. They have made you so many curries and kebabs. They have created so much love between people. How will you repay this? Are you like a ‘normal’ person like the vast majority of the population? Normal people usually are too shy to show any appreciation, and as a result, they are allowing the majority of Europe and the rest of the world to become unappreciative of the fact that Muslims contribute billions of pounds to our countries, thousands of doctors to heal the sick, thousands of teachers educate our children, and many more contribute to politics, the media, the judiciary and to our democracies (even though some don’t function as well as they should). Only you can show your appreciation, only you have the power. Don’t be a normal person. Be a special person. Show your love!”

Right away it’s apparent that the people who created this movement wish to spread cultural awareness and competence as well disprove false and negative stereotypes that have generated this tumultuous environment where 1.8 billion people’s lives are being threatened so casually. Attached to this message of love and hope there was also a point system attached. 

10 points – Smile at a Muslim

25 points – Buy a Muslim coffee with cake (from an independent café)

50 points – Throw flowers on a Muslim, lots of colored ones

100 points – Invite a Muslim to your home

250 points – Take a weekend trip with your Muslim colleagues 

500 points – Fast in Ramadhan with a Muslim and celebrate Eid (it’s just around the corner)

1,000 points – Do a fundraiser for the needy, especially those suffering in Iraq, Libya, Kashmir, Yemen, Myanmar, Palestine and Syria

2,500 points – Buy a Hajj package for a Muslim family – A lifetime trip to Mecca

The Brockport Student Muslim Association (BMSA) is made up of a handful of undeniably courageous students. On a mostly white Christian campus, our peers continue to be proud of their religion even when hate crimes occur on this campus almost annually, and outright supporters of Trump, a man who literally placed travel bans for citizens from six majority-Muslim countries on March 6, 2017, and tried to make it seem as though the decision wasn’t based in Islamophobia, are rampant. This takes a great amount of faith and bravery.

On April 3 BMSA not only organized a peaceful demonstration on campus to ensure that students on campus understood the impact hate crimes and blatant threats, like the idiotic and detrimental “Punish a Muslim Day,” have on real people. One of the reasons people are so willing to voice their opinions that would not be deemed socially acceptable in the past  is because of the anonymity that comes with the internet and therefore, feeling far removed from the effect those opinions have. By hosting this demonstration, BMSA’s President Halima Hussein and other members of the organization who have faced discrimination themselves in regards to their religious affiliation proved to students, faculty and staff that they are visible on campus and that they have voices that need to be heard.  

During the demonstration, not unlike what happened during this year’s Take Back the Night march and the “Trump is Not My President” march, some students in the residence halls decided to voice their opposition using such complex and intellectual phrases as, “Shut the f*** up! No one f***ing cares!” and “You don’t even know what you’re marching for!” 

Let me tell you, the people marching are the ones whose well-beings are being endangered by the very people shouting these statements filled with ignorance and unchecked privilege. 

On April 5, BMSA continued its mission to spread awareness about Islam and the culture surrounding the religion through an engaging event entitled “A Night for Muslims” during which students and faculty members, of all backgrounds, had the chance to absorb a little bit of these students’ perspectives.  

The point is that the members of BMSA are the ones most affected by Islamophobia and the hatred that some people have let simmer because of their fear of something different from what they know. These students are undoubtedly valiant role models on how to persevere through adversity, but they cannot be counted on to fight all of the time. It is up to all of us to be informed and empathetic allies. 

 From this year forward, on The College at Brockport campus, April 3 will be known as “Love a Muslim Day,” and each year a demonstration like the one that took place a week ago will be organized again. These issues don’t just dissolve on their own. Societies don’t change overnight and if we all unite over these issues to help protect the ones being victimized by those with privilege and open to hearing their stories, we can help change take root.