When you watch someone getting CPR compressions with your own eyes, you never forget that image.
In Charlottesville, VA last fall, I began this journey as an “accidental activist.” I was never involved before. I hate politics. But, I cannot pretend any more that if something doesn’t affect me directly, it’s not happening, or it should not matter to me.
We are under a Muslim Ban. Right. Now.
The case is now being heard in the Supreme Court. What can we do?
Nothing is not an option. Because doing nothing changes nothing.
I immigrated from Pakistan when I was 18 months old. My family and I are U.S. citizens, and have been for 40 years. But still, we are affected by the ban, and Pakistan isn’t even on the list. Because of our country’s current politics and what we fear from seeing what others have faced under the ban, we won’t allow our parents to visit Pakistan, because we don’t know if they’ll be able to return home. My uncle, who I haven’t seen in 20 years, died recently. But still, I have no plans to visit anytime soon.
A mosque where my brother lives was set on fire. My mom is harassed at the airport because she wears a headscarf. At a prior job, people talked loudly about bringing their guns to work. They had concealed weapons permits. They stared me down. They wanted me to know.
Islam calls us to care for all people. To show peace and love. Is it not our duty to stand up for all people? To stand up to injustice? To feed the poor? To care for the children? To protect the earth? Are we not blessed to live in a country where freedom of religion is (more or less) protected? Yes, but our rights can, and have been, taken away.
Japanese Americans were rounded up and put into camps. Jews attempting to flee Europe were sent back to die in the Holocaust. Muslims were thrown into jail and stripped of their constitutional rights, just because 9/11 happened.
Author and activist Taz Ahmed writes in 18MillionRising.org,
After the Muslim Ban was released, people kept talking about how we won’t let history repeat itself. It’s hard to believe it when this part of American history has been easily buried. It would be easy to use the same tactics on new communities, as long as the history remains that way. The modern version may not look like incarceration camps – but we the travel bans, holding cells at borders, deportation, and detention look very familiar. As the government takes bids for walls at the border, the Transportation Security Administration is detaining Muslims in secret rooms at airports. We have seen a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes – from bombing of mosques to stabbings of brown people. Under this administration we have seen a rise in right wing extremism, as these terrorists are emboldened by the rhetoric of our leaders.
Many of the same things happened in the 1940s – the loyalty of Japanese Americans was questioned, and the fear-mongering led to profiling, violence, and imprisonment. Inciting fear is a known political tactic – ever since September 11, the months leading up to elections have seen an uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes, often incited by candidates running for office. It is not limited to candidates either – Republican officials in 49 states have attacked Muslims with words and proposed legislation since 2015. The Islamophobic fear industrial complex is systematic. The current Muslim Ban is a piece of the puzzle to intensify fear-mongering about Muslims in American culture.
I’m fighting the Muslim Ban, fighting with postcards, phone calls and social media posts. I’m writing the Supreme Court justices, and I am protesting at the Supreme Court. What influence will my one voice have? Alone? Not much. But as a part of a wave of voices rising to protest, it means something. This is, in the majority-Muslim countries with majority-Muslim populations being targeted, indeed a Muslim ban, but I’m getting the most support from people outside the Muslim community. This needs to change.
We should be leading the way. Remember that ALL Muslims are being targeted, not just people from specific countries. Remember that ALL people that do not fit a “certain demographic” are being targeted. We need to stand together.
Islam believes all people to be equal. We need the world to know this. Take action. Make your voice heard. Be loud. Write postcards. Make phone calls. It takes minutes. Small actions multiplied by many DO have an effect. Let me give you a path to follow.
Will you to join me?