On Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, I was leaving my office at 6 p.m.and met one of my colleagues from the Pacific University College of Health Professions, who asked me if I have heard of the Paris attacks. As I do not normally have time to check the news during the day, I was clueless.
My colleague, who seemed very concerned, gave me a brief description, and of course I became concerned as well. In my brain, my thoughts and prayers were not only with the families and friends of the innocent victims, but also with what would happen in the next few days/weeks/months.
While I was talking to my colleague, this is what I was expecting:
- Before any investigation, the media will accuse Muslims
- Before any investigation, the Islamic centers (Masjids) in several parts of the West will face a series of attacks by angry anti-Muslims
- Before any investigation, many countries will refuse to accept Muslim Syrian refugees
- Before any investigation, Muslims will face higher than the already high security measures and “random selection” in airports
If you know me, you might realize that I am not a pessimistic person, but these thoughts are evidence-based and reasonable extrapolations of what has been happening in the last 15 years.
To be honest, while I was having these thoughts I was hoping to be wrong!
However after I went home, I turned my TV on and kept watching for several hours (this does not happen that often). As expected, all TV channels were broadcasting the Paris attacks accompanied by one or more of the following words: Radical Islam, Islamic State, Muslim Syrian Refugees, Islamic Jihadists, and Islamic terror.
If an average person with limited knowledge about Islam is watching this tragedy accompanied by these words, what do you think his or her conclusion will be? What do you think this person will do when he or she meets a Muslim at work, in a shopping center, or even at a soccer game?
On Monday morning, while I was getting ready to go to work, I started to wonder if any of my colleagues at Pacific University were watching the news all weekend, sometimes picturing me on the screen.
Therefore, instead of having a functioning Monday, my human instinct forced me to look at everyone I met and wonder why some of them did not smile at me or greet me the way they do every day.
I am not in any position to educate anyone about Islam and how it is the religion of peace, contrary to what most of the media describe, but I will only mention one of the verses in the Holy Quran:
“..whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land — it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” [Quran 5:32]
On Monday night, I found out that Facebook made a French Flag DP filter. Suddenly, almost all my friends had turned their Facebook photo blue, white and red. I started to wonder why Facebook never created a Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, or Afghani flag filter, where hundreds of innocent victims die every day from similar attacks.
I condemn Paris attack, but I also condemn any attack that results in killing innocents, and I equally condemn the hypocrisy of imperial mindsets. I believe that there should not be a ranking system for how much a human soul is worth as we are all the same, Western or Eastern, Muslims or non-Muslims.
I strongly believe that I am very fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues and administrators who have always given me support and respect since I joined the Pacific family in 2008. The email that President Hallick sent on Monday Nov. 16 is a great example of how the Pacific community stands up against all forms of bigotry and offers support to one another during difficult time.