Muslims, non-Muslims must promote unity to fight violence in wake of Paris terror attacks

Khadija Saifullah

Since the Paris attacks, posts inundate my social media from Muslims and non-Muslims alike warning against an uprising of discrimination with messages like, “To all my friends who apparently ‘look like a Muslim,’ stay safe!” Current undergraduates have spent most of our lives in the post-9/11 era, which has led to a constant fear of discrimination triggered by a scarf over our heads or a name that sounds too different. This bigotry forces me to worry about myself and my safety when I would rather be worrying about those who have lost innocent family members.

Last week, someone wrote in a bathroom stall at Virginia Tech, “I will be here on November 11 to kill all the Muslims.” The Muslim Students Association at the university formed a campaign called “Random Acts of Kindness/Meet a Muslim,” which included handing out pamphlets and sweets and spread a message of peace. Muslim students have to be on the frontlines in efforts to show that the vast majority of Muslims do not promote the horrific violent acts perpetrated by those perverse few who kill in the name of faith. To me, this reality is saddening — I have to come up to you with a doughnut for you to believe that I’m not like them. I’m human.

As Muslims, we feel the obligation to post on social media as well as participate in vigils and forums to clarify that, yes, we, too are against the killing of innocents.

Since the Paris attacks, hate crimes against anyone who looks Muslim have increased — from a mosque being set on fire in Canada to a mosque right here in Pflugerville being disgustingly vandalized. And yet, bright signs for the loving treatment of Muslims persist. In response to the latter act, a Facebook event was created called “Muslims are Welcome in Pflugerville,” and over 300 people attended the event.

“This should serve as a reminder to us that #HumanityWins,” event coordinator Karen Dominguez said. “This is the way to defeat ISIS and terrorism around the world. Don’t let them divide us!”

Biased attitudes against Muslims flare up after an individual or group commits atrocious acts in the name of Islam, and the media highlights the religion of the attacker. Because of the acts of these few, the rest are forced to deal with the anger of society. Yet, in the end it is the acts of people like Dominguez who promote the unity that the world needs to fight the violence.

Saifullah is a neuroscience sophomore from Richardson. Follow her on Twitter @coolstorysunao.