Our world is filled with an all too familiar blanket of sadness, of heartbreak for people we never met but whose tragic demise has touched our hearts as we consume the news surrounding their passing. Social media is filled with a sense of outrage, of anger, of sadness and helplessness. No matter how many articles or images of support we share online, it can never bring back the lives that were innocently lost.
The sadness at the attacks in Paris is being compared to the attack in Beirut one day earlier. The news coverage of both events is being compared; contrasted. Facebook has enabled its users to temporarily or permanently change the colours of their profile pictures into blue, white and red in solidarity with those mourning in Paris. Many questions arise as to why this was not done with other atrocities and crimes committed elsewhere in the world.
As a Canadian Muslim woman my grief has been questioned. I have been asked why I am mourning the loss of these victims when it was alleged members of my own faith group perpetrated these heinous crimes. I was also asked what makes my Islam more right than THEIR Islam (that of the alleged perpetrators). The truth is that I share the same views as the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.
I sat silent for too long; allowing others to speak for me, for Muslims, for a faith and belief system I hold too close. One that I know to be rooted in peace, in sacrifice and in charity. A vision shared by millions around the world. Millions who shudder at the thought of their faith being hijacked by the select few who choose to pervert it into a vehicle of propaganda, hate and violence.
It's become commonplace to spread hate speech about Muslims, to make up stories of our beliefs and practices, all in the guise of free speech. While we all share a sense of anger, sadness and disbelief that such a large scale coordinated attack took place in one of the main metropolises of the Western world, we should all be allowed the freedom to mourn.
Moments after the attacks took place, many took to social media to spread hate speech, fling accusations and blame the migrants for the attacks. The truth is, it is not a people but an ideology of hatred that needs to be combatted. An ideology rooted in ghettoization, isolation and marginalization.
The actions of these cowardly individuals do not represent Islam any more than the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church represent Christianity. Innocent lives have been taken in a horrendous manner. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers awoke to the realization that their loved ones are no more. They are aching and grieving and our thoughts need to be with those people right now.
Humanity shares in the sense of sadness when any innocent life is lost. There is so much senseless dying, killing, fleeing of homes and fear in the world. What does all this lead to? What is the world we are creating for our future generations? Think about the millions of refugees fleeing the violence and oppression in Syria; making the trek on foot, by boat with barely the clothes on their back. Consider that the imbeciles who committed these atrocities are the same genre of human filth the refugees are fleeing in their own countries.
In the aftermath of these horrible atrocities, it is everyday Muslims around the world; particularly in the West that brace themselves for the aftermath. For the hate speech, instances of racism and inevitable discrimination that follow.
We should realize that all people around the world are ultimately the same. We all suffer from the weaknesses of the human character and benefit from all its strength. Whether it be different sects of a religion or rival gangs in a city, ignorance and fear plague human beings everywhere in the world. At the same time, altruism, love and empathy are also human characteristics and detectable in every culture and every nation. Which group do we want to include ourselves in?
This blog post was originally published on CanadianMomEh.com