Carrying the guilt of others: It’s something that we are advised against, but it’s forced amongst us as Muslims. If one person does something, we are all held accountable.
Questions are thrown at us – “What is your community doing about terrorism?” “Does Islam promote it?” “Didn’t they go to your mosque?”
We all feel it. We notice the looks, the discomfort, the fear, the disgust. We dread the news reports. We turn off access to outside and we wait for the backlash.
Questions are thrown at us – “What is your community doing about terrorism?” “Does Islam promote it?” “Didn’t they go to your mosque?” tweet
Maybe I notice even more as a revert because I remember how society responded to me before I began wearing hijab.
In February 2017, there was a knock on the door. Over 12 police officers and two social workers stood at my front door. Being naive at the time, I thought they had the wrong address – that is, until they stepped foot inside. In the weeks and months prior, my eldest daughter’s grandmother had made a number of nasty jokes. “You wouldn’t like for me to call PREVENT, would you? Muslims can be locked up for anything these days,” she’d snicker.
The words the officers and social workers were using buzzed around my head: Terrorism; FGM; child abuse; Syria. The social worker asked me for my baby’s clothes. My baby was four months old at the time. I handed them over and I was taken to the police station where I spent six hours in a cell, mind racing: “What’s happened to my kids?” “Am I going to prison?” “Oh no, there’s a Qur’an app on my phone!”
At the time I didn’t realize, but my two youngest children were to be placed with foster parents, and my eldest would be placed with the woman who had made the allegation. To add to her maliciously calculating story, she continued to tell social services that my daughter was too scared to even have visitation with us.
Fabricated documents appeared from left and from the right. Legal documents from officers at PREVENT who had been working with the lady making the allegation. They alleged I was best friends with a girl who had left the country to go to Syria five years ago. They said she was the godmother of my eldest daughter. First of all, godparents are not an Islamic practice and there was no proof of this person being my “best friend,” yet it was written out and relayed in court.
The girl they were speaking of went to my secondary school, which I left 11 years ago. We lost contact when she converted to Islam about 10 years ago. The grandmother knew of her as her son, my daughter’s father. They were very good friends prior to her conversion. We lived in the same area and she went to the local mosque. Five months after I converted, she disappeared. Later tabloids said where she had gone.
Now I was being accused of a number of crimes regarding terrorism, with the only evidence against me being the actions of someone else. I had never heard of someone other than the perpetrator being held accountable for the criminal actions of a neighbour, a colleague, or a fellow student. Have you ever heard of a white man being accused of murder, with the only evidence against in being that someone who went to his school had been convicted of murder years before? Yet my children – my life – were taken away from me based on the actions of others that I had nothing to do with.
When women are broken, the nation is broken. tweet
Since this horrific incident, I can’t shake the constant pondering over women who have come before me who have lost their children to these kinds of baseless accusations and oppression. The stories of Aboriginal women whose babies were ripped from their breasts, never see them again, plagues my soul. Just imagine the trauma it’s caused: My children were taken for 8 days, a mere week, and a year later, the pain has not lessened. When women are broken, the nation is broken. How did they carry on not knowing whether their children were alive or dead?
For the last year, I’ve carried the shame of the allegations made against me. The apology I was given did nothing to heal the wound. I know now that the only way for me to heal is to use my voice and speak out so the others who have faced such an ordeal know they are not alone.
They say that time heals all wounds, but time hasn’t healed this yet. So I created @mendingmummy as a healing hub for women from all walks of life to break down stigmas, raise awareness, offer support, and heal. My hope is that my horrific ordeal will somehow help someone else and allow me to help others. Healing is a journey, and we can do it together.