Thursday, September 17, 2015

To Live in Fear

If by some extraordinary circumstance, you have not heard of Ahmed Mohammed and his arrest over his homemade clock, here is the article from CNN;

Now that you're up to speed, I am writing about this because it precisely this Islamophobia that makes me fearful of posting anything remotely related to Islam on my more public social media sites.  No matter how peaceful the message, I fear for my safety every time I post something that even mentions Islam.

Why?  Because even an American-born Muslim is arrested for showing his ENGINEERING teacher a homemade clock over fears that it is a bomb.  I fear that some government organization may be watching and deem my post 'sympathetic to extremism' or something equally nonsensical.

I legitimately live in fear.  This past week, I added a classmate on Facebook and he immediately noted, "oh, you're Muslim." Disclaimer: he did not mean it in any harmful/offensive way.  He himself is Muslim and just had not picked up that I too was a Muslim.

It is not a crippling fear; I still wake up in the morning without worrying about it.  But I do frequently catch myself being fearful of sharing certain types of posts, etc.

It is not the fear of having my faith challenged, rather it is the fear that some of my acquaintances and classmates will see that and be biased towards me.  I do not want to be reaching into my bag to pull out my computer only to be jumped by an Islamophobic student screaming that I'm trying to kill my classmates.  Sometimes I laugh at my own seemingly irrational fear, then I read a story of how an intelligent young boy tried to show his teacher a homemade clock only to be arrested and charged with making a hoax bomb.

In Hong Kong International Airport, I recall being stopped right before I boarded the aircraft for a random passport check.  I did not think anything of it but it certainly did feel like I was singled out because the name 'Muhammad' popped up on the screen.  In that particular instance, am I right to feel singled out?  Perhaps not.  After all, if the security crew can prevent any sort of tragedy, aren't they obliged to do so?

Your digital life does affect your physical life.  For example, if your Facebook has nothing but photos of you at wild parties, you can be sure that employers will be reluctant to hire you.

Same goes with my fear of facing discrimination.  Alhamdulillah, so far, it has not happened.  But that fear is always there.  What if something I post on Islam is misinterpreted despite my best interests.  What if there is actually an Islamophobe amongst my acquaintances?

I've prattled a lot without bringing up any good, objective arguments.  My ethics professor would probably flip but oh well.

Perhaps, one day, I will no longer live with that fear at the back of my mind.

I guess that's all for now. Au revoir

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