I work for a weekly newspaper. I’m a graphic designer, and I often distance myself here on this blog from my work. Because it’s proper to distance yourself from your work when attempting to discuss politics and world events.
Recently, we’ve witnessed terrible attacks in Paris that have claimed lives. These attacks were organized by European nationals who allied themselves with Daesh (ISIL). Other attacks have happened in Beirut, Nigeria, Pakistan and other countries. But often, the media tends to ignore them because they aren’t in Europe or North America. Many of the other attacks were carried out by agents of Daesh or Boko Haram (who famously kidnapped and sold over 200 teenage girls from a school).
In response to those attacks, many Muslim organizations have denounced the attacks. Here in West Central Saskatchewan, there is a mosque not far from Unity (in another city, I’ll leave the name out because I don’t wish for them to be attacked by useless Internet trolls). This mosque happens to be the home of a denomination of Islam that takes all of the very peace loving aspects of the Koran to heart. It’s a small denomination, and in other parts of the world they are often the targets of terrorist activities (surprise! Muslims often suffer the most from Muslim extremists).
This mosque recently sent a letter to the editor to our newspaper, denouncing the attacks, offering prayers to the victims and citing that this is not something that Islam aspires to be. It’s something that over the past 14 years since 9-11 we’ve heard from Muslim organizations across North America.
But they shouldn’t have to. I feel as though they’ve been forced into doing this to appease the fear mongers and right wing bigots. Every time something like this happens, the right wing bigots turn up the hate and turn up the fear mongering and look toward the Muslim community in Canada and start snarling at it. And like clockwork, the Muslim community denounces it. On the one hand, yes, we should all be denouncing incredible attacks of violence and seeking to end this conflict by finding a peaceful solution and helping the affected countries build themselves up (not with occupying forces). We, being non-Muslims, don’t denounce attacks like what happened to 9 parishioners who were gunned down in a church by a racist militant. We don’t step up and denounce the shooting of random civilians in Noway. We don’t denounce the attacks against women and people of colour by someone who writes a manifesto blaming feminists.
Okay, often we do, but we’re not expected to.
The language we use as non-Muslims to denounce a shooting incident is worded very differently than when a Muslim organization denounces an attack as what happened in Paris. And what we say and when we say it is very different than when Muslims prepare for something similar. And they shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t demand that a mosque in the middle of the Canadian Prairies immediately put out a press release denouncing these attacks.
It should be us, we non-Muslims, immediately turning around and saying we will protect our Muslim neighbours in Canada to ensure they do not fall victim to acts of violence, and that they do not fall victim to the charisma of a violent organization. We will do that by ensuring their safety as we ensure all Canadians safety, by helping to grow a strong economy that will guarantee they have employment so they can raise their families, and to ensure they have the best access to educational and medical establishments as every other Canadian has.
It should be we as Canadians reaching out to Muslims to give them hope that we see them as our countrymen, as our neighbours and as our friends. Because they are being affected by these terrible acts of violence just as badly as the rest of us are.