The time I got a taste of Islamophobia.

I touched my Oyster card on the Oyster card reader and kept walking ahead towards the exit. While walking, I notice these officers (public transport officers) standing near the stairs that led to the exit. I also notice that two of the officers, one male and one female, signalling to this other (maybe senior) officer for God knows what. The female officer was particularly alert about it, like she spotted something very important. The officer they signalled to then swiftly blocked my way and politely asked me to show my Oyster card.

I am a brown, Muslim female (I was wearing a headscarf) so excuse my confusion and slight anxiousness at being stopped by officers for no apparent reason. So, when I hear they only want to see my oyster, I feel kind of relieved. I quickly pull out my oyster from my pocket, smile and leave. Nothing dramatic there.

But while walking away I realised that they didn’t stop the passengers before or after me. Now, I have reasoned with myself why they only chose to stop me during that time frame. It maybe because I resembled the perpetrator they were looking out for. Perhaps, I look like a rebellious teen so gotta keep an eye out, you know. Or maybe, because I am 159.4 cm (yes, the .4 cm make all the difference!) and weigh around 56 kg so I look pretty darn intimidating with my geeky glasses.

In all seriousness, I do not know what they were thinking or what their purpose were. But I recently had an incident which involved verbal abuse, racial slurs and threatening to be thrown into rail tracks, so pardon me for making assumptions which may or may not be wrong.

This incident happened at around 2:00-2:20 pm on platform 1 of Peckham Rye station on Wednesday 14th October, 2015. I was standing near the edge of the platform reading a blogpost on my phone when I hear this man speaking in an accent that I heard from my Physics teacher (when I used to study physics) who happens to be a nice human being.

At first, he was more mumbling than speaking and walking around, like I could ‘feel’ his movement around me. I don’t know exactly why, but I decided to move towards the middle of the platform away from the man.

While I was standing on my new spot, I began to understand what he was saying. More so, because he was yelling at this point. And here’s what I heard:

‘F****** ISIS, go back to your country…blah..blah…We don’t need no war,…Indian, Pakistanis go back blah blah..I am not afraid to kill these people..I will throw them on the rail tracks….(and lots of other stuff)’ Honestly, I cannot remember everything he was yelling at me/brown people but I do know he was passionately hating on brown people and calling everyone ISIS. To make matters worse, I think I was the only visibly brown and Muslim present on the station. I was wearing a gorgeous dark Maroon headscarf ehm.

Strangely, I was not scared at all. Neither was I uncomfortable. The first thing I could think of was well, this gentleman clearly does not understand that all brown people aren’t Muslim. Although, I must say that my reaction was not the most appropriate reaction for the situation.

I laughed. I literally laughed out loud. Not because I wanted to show off it doesn’t bother me, because it does. I worry for my family and my fellow people. But I just couldn’t help it, the situation was genuinely ridiculous. Although, I understood that this man could potentially throw me off the platform or snap my neck with one hand, I couldn’t help but think about how someone who cannot distinguish between race and religion is preaching hate like he possesses all the knowledge required to label millions. It sounded like the times people preach about how the world will end tomorrow but when tomorrow comes the earth remain as spherical as it was the day before.

I am not going to ramble on about why ISIS doesn’t even remotely represent Islam because Islamophobes will keep hating even if all the people in the world explained it to them. Mate, it is an actual condition and you do require help for your own sake, as well as for the sake of others. It’s common sense really. (‘The British Jihadist’ and ‘To the ‘friend’ that implied Islam is related to ISIS’ posts contain some information on it.)

Hitler didn’t get people to support him in one day. Both so called ‘Islamist’ terrorist groups and Islamophobes (e.g. media, politicians etc.) are creating a false and dangerous image of Islam. But I guess it is way too controversial to talk about. If it doesn’t affect me why should I speak about it, right?

It’s understandable if someone who has never met a real Muslim person before to maybe have their doubts. But instead of learning from the media, don’t you think it would better to go and actually speak to Muslim people? Although, if someone wants to learn more about Islam and not just whether we wanna take over the West or whatever (which we don’t and that is a topic for another day), I would recommend a good scholar.

Until then, love more and hate less. Peace!

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