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Islamophobia, Inc. Musings

Islamophobia, Inc. Musings

By on June 6, 2015 in islamophobia

The past few weeks, the Islamophobia Industry and its repercussions have created a lot of craziness here in the states.  There was the armed biker gang that came brandishing semi-automatic weapons and “F*ck Islam!” t-shirts and Neo-Nazi t-shirts to the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.  Pretending that freedom of speech and our first amendment isn’t meant to protect us from speaking out against our government, armed bigots used it as an excuse to spew vile hate speech at a peaceful community of Muslim Americans.  They held a Draw Prophet Muhammad (sa) cartoon contest. Terror threats against the Muslim community were also made and are being investigated.

How did the Muslim Americans and a whole slew of their Phoenix neighbors respond to the terror threats and the armed hate rally?  With love and peace. By opening their doors and inviting people into the prayer room. By locking arms and surrounding the mosque in a solidarity display of protection. Jews, Christians, Latinos, Blacks, LGBT activists – all showed up to defend the mosque. These displays were noticeably downplayed in the media. But I talked to people who were at the rally from the Jewish and LGBT communities and got goose bumps hearing all about the fortitude of those that defend against hate speech and come to the aid of their neighbors.

tahera coke

Then there was Tahera Ahmad.  She is a Muslim Chaplain from the Chicago area who was on a United Airlines flight and told by a Flight Attendant she could not have a can of unopened Diet Coke because she would use it as a weapon. Tahera is “visibly Muslim” as she wears hijab.  Meanwhile, the Flight Attendant handed an unopened beer to another passenger.  When asked about the clear double standard, the Flight Attendant was relentless which egged on a fellow passenger that looked Tahera in the eye and said, “Shut up, fucking Muslim! You know you would use it as a weapon!” Tahera was trapped on the airplane only to be comforted by her own tears until her plane landed. Tahera bravely made the incident public, demanding an apology from the airline and asking for sensitivity training to take part for all United employees and their affiliates. The #UnitedForTahera Twitter campaign took off quite quickly, building steam with scholars and people of all walks of life calling out this brazen display of discrimination.  People boycotted the airline.   After much campaigning, United Airlines finally responded with an apology and stating their commitment to non-discriminatory policies. They fired the Flight Attendant, to the dismay of Tahera. She didn’t want her to be fired but to learn something from her actions.

When a Facebook “friend” of mine mocked a post I wrote about Tahera, I was reminded that standing up for your rights is not something you can wait around for others to do for you. Yes- many people who don’t look like you or share your skin color or nationality or religious affiliation will and DO stand up for you. But fighting for civil rights and fighting back against discrimination is incumbent upon us all. If Tahera said nothing and moved on with her life, the cycle would continue unnoticed. A can of Diet Coke in this case is a big deal. In this case, it’s a symbol of the values we are supposed to uphold in the United States.

Hate rallies, cartoon contests to provoke our deeply seeded beliefs and what is sacred to us, and cans of Diet Coke. That is our week in Islamophobia my friends. #MyJihad is to continue to inspire everyone to care. To raise your voices. And stand up against discrimination – even if your voice shakes.




About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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