It is the 3rd of April today-a date that should have very little significance in the daily scheme of things. Yet, today, Muslims across Europe and North America fear for their security and lives as some people prepare to celebrate the harrowing “Punish a Muslim Day”.
For those who don’t know, more than a month ago a letter was circulated anonymously in parts of East London, the Midlands, and Yorkshire. It crafted a point system for potential crimes to be committed against Muslims. Some Muslim MPs also received the letters.
While there was a massive social uproar against these offensive and hate-ridden letters, there are chances that some misled and hateful people will take this seriously. Some hate crimes started springing up as early as the letter’s circulation. And, while they may just be a normal occurrence, it is certainly not an exaggeration to say that such people will be emboldened by the “Punish a Muslim Day” pamphlet.
Various authorities have taken notice of the event. But as diasporic communities in Europe and North America, here is what we all need to keep in mind as the day goes by:
1) Stay Vigilant and Look Out for Each Other
If you see anyone harassing Muslims tomorrow challenge it.
Make as much noise possible to disrupt them and draw attention to it.
Call 101 for Police or 999 in an emergency.
On public transport? Text British Transport Police on 61016. #PunishAMuslimDay
— Jonathan????????/???????? #Yazz2UCL (@JrEttienne_) April 2, 2018
Seems obvious doesn’t it? However, the general level of security in Europe and North America makes us feel like we can’t go about our day less alert than needed. So, this is a protocol that must be followed over and over again. Be aware not just of keeping yourself safe but also those around you.
2) Foster Community Building Through Empathy:
If you’re wondering how you can help, here’s a little useful guide for #PunishAMuslimDay or any other day. Let’s stand up for one another.
(Illustration by @itsmaeril????) pic.twitter.com/uaTdiMPgBb
— Lina – سيرين (@Lina_Serene) April 3, 2018
A major reaction to Punish a Muslim Day has been to counteract it with Love a Muslim Day. While all this is good, it must be noted that this day won’t go by in isolation from the rest of the year. Such incidents are a reminder more than ever for Muslims and all others in the community to foster interpersonal connections. Because it is at times like these we need that safety net around us; it doesn’t just form in isolation. Muslims must branch out from their communities and form connections with others for much-needed image correction in Europe and N. America.
3) Recognize that Punish a Muslim Day Will Effect Other Minorities As Well:
I hope the punjabi community knows that , “punish a Muslim day” will most likely cause a massive outrage of hate towards turbaned Sikh men and women as well. So spread the news and tell your family members and friends to be careful tomorrow, and be ready for the worst.
— Raja (@shikariSimba) April 2, 2018
When it comes to hate crimes we can all agree there is no rationality to it. Hence, perpetrators will not stop to think who they are attacking. Muslims won’t be targeted on their outwardly appearance alone. Visible minorities including Sikhs, Hindus, and even Christians might come under fire today. Basically, anyone who is brown-skinned other than being visibly Muslim is potentially unsafe today. Meanwhile, some Muslims are able to pass off as white. Today, understand that intersectional identities will play into who becomes a possible target and act accordingly.
For Muslims world over this is a chance to rectify their image. It is a chance to understand that a Muslim’s actions can help foster connections that will act as security at times like these. Muslims must come out of their bubbles and do more for their own community as well as society at large.
For other’s, it is a chance to challenge Islamophobia. To realize that their ‘average Muslims neighbor’ is human just like they are.
Let’s step up together and be there for each other today. Together, let’s challenge the constructs of power that perpetuate racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. Let’s flip the narrative during times like these and use our humanitarian tendencies above all to ensure our future generations’ survival as well.
Feature Image Credits: Latuff Cartoons