By AMNE ALRIFAI
I was about 10 when 9/11 happened. I barely remember what it was like before then. But I can tell you what it has been like since then, especially since I wear the hijab.
Every. Single. Time. Literally, every single time a Muslim person commits a crime, an atrocity, I brace myself. I brace myself for the stern glances I get from passers by. I wait to be yelled at. Spat at. I wait to be told to go back to where I came from.
Following the brutal killing of a soldier by two Muslim men in London last week, I again wait to be told that my religion is by nature evil, and that essentially I am supporting the actions of terrorists by covering my hair up.
I wait to be told that we’re all the same, and I wait for the day that someone will come from behind and rip my hijab off or something much, much worse.
I wait, because this and much more has already happened.
In an act which fuses irony and hypocrisy, I’m told to condemn and apologise on behalf all Muslims, because I’m one of the few good ones. I’m here to say no. No more. And never again.
I am sick of feeling like a criminal every time something like this happens. I am sick at flinching every time ‘Islamic terrorists’ are mentioned on the news. I am not them. They are not me, they do not represent Islam.
There are over 1.6 BILLION Muslims in the world. We make up almost 25% of the world’s population. We are your doctors. We are your teachers. We are your researchers. We are your engineers.
We are your public servants. We are your politicians. We are your stage managers. Your composers. Your poets. We are your friends.
We condemn, every single time.
We get hurt, and we cry. We fear for what the future will bring. We fear for what our children will face, and what they, as second, third and fourth generation Australians will feel. Will they too feel that they don’t belong anywhere?
But I will no longer apologise, because I see how much this propagates the idea that we’re all committing these crimes together, as one community. We are not.
Thank you to the strong women I work with who reminded me that I should not pay for the crimes of ‘them’.
Amne Alrifai is a 21 year old Australian-Lebanese, born and raised in Western Sydney. She has spent most of her life working on projects with a focus on social justice and equality.
Having recently graduated from UTS with a degree in Medical Science, Amne has moved to the nation’s capital to join the public service and continue gaining a deeper understanding of the factors which influence the identity crisis which faces migrants and their children.