On Nov. 21, the West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice held a beautiful event at the West Hartford Town Hall to show support and solidarity with Muslims and to counter the increase in Islamophobic rhetoric. After a selection of Quran readings by both Muslims and non-Muslims, I was joined by Andrew Schneider of the CT ACLU in addressing this new trend in bigotry. Having thought carefully about what I wanted to say, I decided it was time to take the discourse in a new direction. Many people approached me after the program and asked to get copies of this so I decided to share it here, with Creedible readers. Below is the text of my speech.
When it comes to the issue of Islamophobia, or really any type of bigotry, most reactions in the public arena involve discussions on civil liberties, legalities, American values, the status of minorities, the balancing of security and freedom, etc. Muslims, when faced with bigotry, usually react by scrambling to present facts, statistics, and data showing how peaceful and normal we really are, quoting scripture and Islamic tradition in defense of our faith. The discourse is highly impersonal, as if we are talking about something removed from our own lives. Something that does not affect us on a human level. In other words, we rarely speak about how bigotry and hate-speech makes us feel. As we publicly defend our religion and community we put on the best face possible, wear the nicest clothing we can, smile and nod before the media and give rational and reasonable arguments in the most pleasant manner we can muster…and all the while we are slowly being chipped away at on the inside. What does it do to the psyche of a person and a community to feel unwelcome, attacked, bullied in a completely public manner for prolonged periods of time?
Read full post here.