‘Punish a Muslim Day’ is Scary, But Islamophobia Doesn’t Take Time Off
Every day is “Punish a Muslim Day” for islamophobes.
By Hafsa Quraishi
Remember when aspiring model, Resham Khan, was doused in acid on her 21st birthday in east London last summer? Or when a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground? Or when a gunman opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City killing six people? None of these incidents occurred on today, which is being referred to as “Punish a Muslim Day”. That’s because every day is “Punish a Muslim Day” for islamophobes.
“Punish A Muslim Day” letters are being sent to families in East London. The letter details a point system for each action & a reward. For example pulling a Muslim women’s hijab is 25 points, throwing acid is 50 points and burning or bombing a mosque is a whole 1,000 points. pic.twitter.com/6kmCrDrXt0
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) March 9, 2018
Letters were delivered to residents in England, promoting a day to torment Muslims, with a bit of a ‘fun’ twist: whoever can hurt Muslims the most gets awarded more points: 25 points for pulling off a Muslim women’s hijab, 250 points to torture a Muslim through means of electrocution or skinning, 1000 points to burn or bomb a mosque.
The point-tracking system seems pretty much non-existent, and there doesn’t appear to be an outright prize — although potential rewards are promised — but the situation is being taken seriously across nations. Cities with high Muslim populations are upping their security and officials are encouraging Muslims to exercise caution on this day.
Muslim women are being warned in mass-forwarded WhatsApp messages to stay at home. Dina Tokio, a popular Muslim influencer, urged hijabi women to swap out their hijab for a beanie on April 3 in an effort to blend in with the masses. Within my own family group chat, my mom sent a cautionary text to my sister and I, fearing for our lives because we are visibly Muslim. Suddenly I’m told to hide a part of my identity, something that should be an act of devotion towards God, that I should be proud of, to be safe. If that’s not persecution, what is?
But there’s nothing distinctive about a day dedicated to punish Muslims — this is an everyday occurrence for us. Being verbally assaulted? Check. Someone threatening physical harm or attempting to snatch your hijab off your head? Check. People bombing our countries and waging war against our people? Double check.
So many Muslims are afraid to go out tomorrow cus of #PunishAMuslimDay letter! But some like myself will be doing my normal daily duties. If you see anyone getting abused don’t be a bystander, either talk to the victim reassure them or if it’s not safe: get help @RespectYourself pic.twitter.com/kIMRqYdEZF
— Asha Iqbal (@_socialdrone) April 2, 2018
This day isn’t only dangerous for Muslims, but for other ethnic people who are perceived as Black and brown foreigners. As we’ve seen in the past, racists have a hard time distinguishing between Muslims and non-Muslims. They often mistake Sikhs and Hindus as Muslim, and focus their terrorizing efforts on them.
The fact that there is a specific day dedicated to hurting Muslims, through a game that is meant to be played by only the biggest bigots, is beyond disgusting, but it’s not inconceivable — not today, not living in the world that we do. Studies show crimes against Muslims in the United States have risen in the past few years, surpassing the modern peak of 2001, the year of 9/11. This is unsurprising, considering a huge chunk of Americans voted for the guy who said “I think Islam hates us.”
Reactions from Muslims thus far have ranged from fear, to joking about it, to attempting to fighting the hate with love.
“Love a Muslim Day” was created in response to “Punish a Muslim Day,” in an effort to counter the hatred of Muslims by promoting kindness towards them. There’s a similar point system in place, encouraging kind acts such as smiling at a Muslim (10 points) or buying a Muslim coffee (25 points). But as well-intentioned this day is, it won’t halt the inevitable crimes against Muslims every other day of the year.
Aside from today, we are still targeted the rest of the year — from the premium cut bacon nailed to our front doors, to the verbal insults hurled at us while we’re stopped a traffic light. Rest assured, we will be around for you to torture another day.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to participate in Love a Muslim Day, show your support and kindness through our PayPal and Venmo accounts.
Me when someone comes for me on April 3rd/Punish a Muslim Day pic.twitter.com/bHx80QbYn9
— 🇵🇸Henlo Guys (@Vimto_Shawarma_) April 1, 2018
Author Bio: Hafsa Quraishi is a Muslim-American journalist. She currently interns at WUSF 89.7, her local NPR member station. She aspires to be a reporter for a major news network covering Muslim-American issues. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter for some good times.