“As a child I was always taught right from wrong; I was also taught to apologise when I’d done something wrong, and I’ve always stuck by those values. But these days, I feel like I’m no longer trusted to decide what is right and what is not. People think they need to tell me when I should apologise for something simply because I identify myself as Muslim.
“I just don’t get it. When people hijack my religion and do things which go completely against the teachings of that religion, suddenly the burden of clearing the name of Islam falls on my shoulders? Why?
“I don’t expect my Christian friends to apologise in order to clear the name of Christianity because of the priests who abused countless innocent children who were under their care. Nor do I think that just because they are Christian that they immediately identify and sympathise with the values of those priests who committed unthinkable crimes while claiming to uphold the principles of Christianity.
“I’m tired of having to explain to people, often people who I thought were my friends, that I should not need to lead social media trends denouncing acts of violence committed in the name of Islam. The reason being that I too am human, I can call a spade a spade, just like you. Murder is wrong and people of all faiths and none can understand that.
“So why am I treated like I don’t understand? Why am I expected to actively denounce such atrocities as un-Islamic, when, I would hope, that through knowing me as a human being, through being my friend, through seeing how I practice my faith, you would know that what these murderers have done has no basis in any religion, let alone Islam. And no, that doesn’t make me a ‘moderate’ Muslim, whatever that is, it simply makes me Muslim, because the crimes that these people commit have no place in my religion.
“I get that being a Muslim and speaking out against these criminals who do horrific things by claiming to do them in the name of Islam has symbolic importance. Time and time again the global Muslim population has come together to condemn these acts of violence and murder. But I would have thought that by now, after condemning 9/11, 7/7, the Bali Bombings, the Tunisian Beach Massacre, the Paris Attacks, the world would understand that conflating the idea of being Muslim with terrorism does nothing more than spread hatred, bigotry and prejudice.
“Yes, I am Muslim. No, I am not a terrorist. And, no, I will no longer be made to feel like I am obliged to apologise for crimes which have nothing to do with my faith or me.”
Photo credit: Harriet Evans and Oxford Skin Deep
Photo editing: Harriet Evans