Over the past few days, I have seen dozens of comments from people asking what is the need for highlighting someone’s religion or that someone is ‘a Muslim’ when they’ve done good acts? I’ve seen these comments on IlmFeed’s articles and videos as well as other news pages who have highlighted the efforts of the Muslim community to help those affected by the West London Tower block fires.
I actually agree with the comments, we should not have to highlight someone’s religion when they do something good – every decent human being would do similar acts of kindness out of the goodness of their own hearts. However, as director and editor of IlmFeed, I have made it a policy to ensure that a Muslim’s religion is highlighted when they do something good. Why? Let me explain…
Firstly, every time a Muslim does something bad whether it’s an act of terror or child grooming, their religion is highlighted. If not by the media then most certainly by those with an anti-Muslim agenda on social media sites such as Twitter. And these are not a rare comment or two, there are hundreds of thousands of daily tweets, retweets, YouTube comments etc. Negatively generalizing all Muslims.
What this does is that this starts to create a negative perception of Muslims, it incites people to begin hating people just because they happen to be Muslims even though they are peaceful, kind-hearted people.
Muslims are dehumanized – portrayed as some sort of fifth column waiting to take over Western countries or as uncivilised barbarians.
Positive generalizations do not hurt anyone, negative generalizations do.
So in order to tackle efforts to dehumanize or otherize Muslims, I feel it is necessary to highlight just some of the good actions carried out by Muslims, to provide some sort of counter narrative – not to say that we are somehow better than others but to show that we are like anyone else.
Yes, a Muslim’s Islamic faith sometimes motivates a person to go that extra mile in giving and in being selfless but just like anyone else with a good heart, Muslims do it for the sake of God alone and not to earn accolades or praise from people.
Secondly, for an average young Muslim growing up in the West, it can be depressing constantly seeing Muslims vilified on the news and on social media. To see a faith they hold dear to their hearts being made out to be evil and incompatible with society and being constantly viewed with suspicion can have a detrimental effect on a young Muslim.
When the London Bridge attacks took place, Muslims were shocked like everybody else but they had to deal with double whammy – being shocked that an attack was carried out on the city they call home and at the same time, being blamed for what had happened and viewed with suspicion.
Seeing their fellow Muslims doing positive actions will give them hope and will make them proud of who they are, it will allow them to hold their head high and inspire them to carry out similar positive actions.
Now, I believe that most of the non-Muslim public are smart enough to see past the anti-Muslim rhetoric. But time and time again we have seen mosques getting attacked, Muslim women having their Hijab violently pulled off and many other examples of anti-Muslim hate crime.
But there is still a lot of work to be done. At IlmFeed we will not fight bigotry and hatred with hate but we will fight it with positivity.