From Ice Cream Shops in Afghanistan to Concerts in England
Manchester and Kabul: two cities that have been rocked by horrific bombings this week. However, when we read the news and scroll through posts on social media, we see #Manchester much more frequently than we see #Kabul.
We hate to say it, but it's no secret that the majority of the West has grown apathetic to the terror which plagues Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, along with other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Instead of using a large, old-fashioned brush to hurriedly paint every attack carried out in the name of Allah (God) as "radical Islamic terrorism", let's make a holistic effort to try and understand the Islamification of radicalization.
On top of that, we must recognize that even though veterans from Western countries have developed PTSD and other mental health conditions, there is an entire generation of MENA youth and societies that have been completely traumatized; and even labeled as "PTSDland".
Though countries such as Afghanistan are often referred to as "hell holes" and war zones, we should not normalize the devastating attacks that take place throughout the MENA region.
Not sure how to go against the grain, shed light on this reality, and help prevent Islamophobia from spreading further?
You can start by learning more about the socio-economic politics of the region. We can hold white supremacists accountable for their anti-Muslim acts of violence and rally in support of the refugees and immigrants from the MENA.
We can correct people in grocery stores and malls, when they loudly and violently claim a woman wearing hijab is married to an ISIL militant. We must continue to protect those whose experience hate-crimes and anti-Muslim harassment whenever we can.
Even though it's complicated and often stressful, let's keep having those difficult dialogues, so we don't have to worry about our Muslim and non-Muslim children going to their favorite ice cream shop for the very last time.
Please take our survey and share your thoughts with us about the MENA region, understanding Islam and Muslim communities in the West. We will share our findings with you this summer, because we truly believe that inter-religious discussions are one of the keys we need to prevent more terrorist attacks from happening.
In the meantime, think of the struggles and terror people in the MENA are experiencing, as much of the Western world remains generally silent; denouncing the violence "they" experience as "less than".