When Muslims are blamed for a terrorist attack, society puts the responsibility on our shoulders to “be on the front lines” in the war against terror, where just because we’re Muslims we have to be hyper-vigilant and report potential threats, as if we all receive some kind of secret memo.
But here’s the kicker — when we do take action, it gets ignored — leaving the 1.7 billion of us somehow at fault. That is the reality for the Muslims from Manchester, England who are helping the victims of the latest attack, even after trying to prevent this from happening.
What am I talking about? Let me explain.
Last Monday, Salman Abedi, performed the unimaginable by setting off a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, taking innocent lives, mostly young girls, along with his own. The breakdown of humanity in his one action was enough to break the spirit of people around the world, and it toppled as a nightmare for Muslims, only days before Ramadan.
Long before the attack occurred, Abedi was banned from his local mosque because he called out the imam’s anti-Daesh views. His behavior led to the mosque reporting him to the authorities because, hey, that’s the right thing to do. See something, hear something, say something, right? #MuslimsReportStuff or something like that… It’s just common sense. Let me repeat that: Not only was he banned from the mosque — but the mosque warned Manchester authorities about Abedi as a potential threat to security.
Well, security services ignored five of the red flags in the span of five years. Five red flags! Five years! Five!
In the aftermath of the attack, there were Muslim taxi drivers who gave free rides and Muslim doctors who took care of the victims. In fact, Muslims raised thousands of pounds to help the victims. But there was no acknowledgment from the media. This type of news never makes it to the airwaves because it would distract the distorted view of all Muslims being evil and trying to take over the world with Shariah Law. At least, that’s what they want the world to believe. There has to be a villain – and it’s never just one lone person when it happens within our community. One person has to represent us all, all of a sudden.
Expecting Muslims to report potential threats and not listening to them defeats the purpose. What’s worse is continuing to blame Muslims even though we did our part in letting authorities know. It’s stupid because 1.7 billion of us are blamed even though we took the correct steps before and after these attacks, but our actions that are requested from us (and hey, just so you know, we don’t need to be told to do the right thing…. an attack on anyone under our faith is an attack on all of us) are constantly swept under the rug.
As fellow Muslim Girl and social media editor, Safaa Khan, put it, “If you want to bring religion into it, let’s talk about the Muslims saving lives in Manchester.” Media, let’s not take the narrative of Muslims as real bad people and let’s tell the truth about what’s really going on — we are out there picking up the pieces of the damage done by crazy people claiming Islam as their reason and we are mourning, too. We are affected just as much by all of these attacks, and the pain is too great and too much for us to bear as well.
The authorities could have saved Manchester. We all could have saved Manchester. We all can prevent potential terrorist attacks. All we have to do is listen. When we don’t listen, we all lose.