By AMNE ALRIFAI
The past 10 days have left me numb.
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that since the terror raids began, we’ve been overloaded with talk of ISIS-sanctioned beheadings and threats of terrorism on our country.
As an Australian Muslim, I’m mortified about the possibility of young Muslim men abandoning their Islamic teachings of love and kindness and falling within the folds of yet another terrorist organisation, threatening the world.
I’m saddened because these boys are Muslim, and even more so because they’re Australian.
On the other hand, I’m watching the Islamic community in Australia pay a heavy price for something that we condemn with the backing of Islamic or ‘Sharia’ law. Islamic scholars from around the world have backed a letter putting forth the religious argument against ISIS, which you can see at lettertobaghdadi.com.
I know I can’t speak for all Muslims, but I have spent the last week and a half fighting what feels like a losing battle on every front.
Although I was born and raised in Liverpool, Sydney, I now live in Canberra. Since moving here two years ago, I have been so at peace. I haven’t had to deal with any racism or discrimination. In fact, sometimes I forget that I wear a hijab. But Liverpool will always be home, as inglorious a place as it can be.
Mainstream media has been great at reporting what the scary Muslims have been doing.
Acts of violence committed by someone claiming to be Muslim is so often reported as ‘terrorism’, a word that has lost all meaning. Even false claims, like those made by a sailor of the Australian Defence Force, have been reported as gospel. Very few reports are coming through about what Muslims, especially women who are easily identifiable as Muslim, are having to deal with. The fear ricocheting through the Islamic community is a whole other level of terrorism.
I understand that there has been some media coverage of these acts of violence against Muslims, but let me tell you – it isn’t even the start. Almost all of the Muslims I know have been harassed in some way, or know someone who was harassed. I really wish I could say that this is an exaggeration.
My social media feeds have been flooded with images of vandalised property, with all sorts of terrible, disgusting messages being left on the cars and homes and places of worship of Muslims. The Islamaphobia Register has started to log these incidents.
The local shopping mall where my parents live has become so scary for Muslim women that a group of Muslim men have offered to do their shopping for them or chaperone these women through the mall. Just let that sink in for a second. Muslim women have faced so much aggression in a Western Sydney mall, that they need chaperones. In Australia.
It is terrifying that these violent, angry bigots do not see that they are walking the same line that ISIS does. Yes, there have not been any beheadings in the streets, but why should I have to be concerned for my safety in the streets of Australia because of my religious beliefs?
Why should my family have to consistently call me to make sure that I haven’t been attacked on the way to work?