Today, someone drew this article to my attention. Really, I have already been living this reality.
Every day, I am faced with a barrage of articles, considering the conundrum of how to get these awful British (usually Pakistani) Muslims to denounce those crazy fanatics over in not-so-far Syria and Iraq. Or Sudan. Or Pakistan. Or the United Kingdom.
So here we go, Mr. Cameron, Sir. I hereby publicly denounce jihadis, extremists, radicals, and scapegoats. I distance myself from the issue, refuse to engage with any kind of debate over why I am being asked to publicly denounce someone I don’t know, who does not hold my beliefs, and I accept that the country will now look kindly upon me as a patriot who has proved their Britishness in a most British fashion of denial. I am so very proud to be able to say I am a British-Muslim-who-is-not-a-wannabe-terrorist-or-jihadi-bride because, of course, my poor little brainwashed mind can’t tell the difference between true love and a weapon. Nor can I, who has only studied at university, have the intelligence to understand why not condemning ISIS and their kin would result in a terrible loss of life. Because of course, terrorist attacks are directly linked to how many times a day I say that I condemn ISIS and all those who follow them.
Maybe I should walk around with some kind of sign on… Maybe we should colour-code Muslims for ease of identification. Introduce national ID cards which state your opinion of jihad.Maybe your Passport should contain a chip which lets the authorities know whether or not you made a Facebook status denouncing jihadis. Someone tell Mr. Cameron all my amazing ideas. Better yet, I should do it myself. If I bump into him in Whitehall, I will tell him all of this, and I’m sure he’ll thank me for making his life easier, even though I’m a Muslim.
Privilege, of course, is not within my remit. I cannot have the privilege of glancing at foreign faces on a train and slowly back away when they look well-dressed, and then say “Aslaam-u-alaikum” on the phone. I don’t have the privilege of wondering why that girl is wearing a headscarf, and why that man is wearing that funny long dress and carrying a, Y’Allah, a BACKPACK. I do not have the privilege of sneering about how these Muslims want to take over the UK, or don’t inform the services on each other enough. I do not have the privilege of being sympathetic and outraged during a terrorist attack, and turning to my neighbour to tut with disgust over that family across the street who won’t look at anyone in case they say something. I do not have that privilege of being able to defend my right to not be a scapegoat in this situation, without incurring the wrath of accusers who point their pointy fingers at me, and call me a Holoucast denier, or a jihadi bride, or a murderer. I do not have that privilege because I am a Muslim, a woman, and a Pakistani. Forget that I’m British, forget that I’m a human. I do not have that privilege.
So, Mr. Cameron, Sir. When you make that speech in Birmingham to a bunch of Muslims and clerics, and sternly speak in a headmaster tone, admonishing bad pupils, patronising us with double-speak, remember something. You are currently breeding a nation of people to feel criticised for who their parents are, victimised for what they believe in, and alienated for trying to be normal people who don’t have to write a blog post or make a speech every time something bad happens on the other side of the world.
I shouldn’t have to feel like my voicing anything but a condemnation of ISIS means I’m a prime target for radicalisation.
I know exactly the kind of trash which is being thrown at me, and I know the mud-slinging won’t darken my heart. I will stand loud, proud, and ready to condemn this GOVERNMENT, for trying to condemn ME. I am a Muslim. But first of all, I am human. I do not need to apologise for someone else. I do not need to publicly distance myself from anyone else. I am Maria Munir, I am 20, I’ve done national TV campaigns, campaigned with the Liberal Democrats since the tender age of 8, I have engaged with ambassadors from all over the world, and I am more than just a Muslim who condemns ISIS.
You would do well not to forget that, Prime Minister. Muslims are not scapegoats for your inability to conceive a solution to this problem.
Now go back to your drawing table and start again.