Yesterday, I was frightened. Today, I am angry.

It was yesterday when I woke up and heard the news about France: a scene so tragic that no amount of news coverage or edited Facebook pictures can do it justice. I saw photos of the exact place I had been standing a mere week or two ago, now filled with bloodshed, tears and fear. A week or two ago, that could have been me. Yesterday, I was frightened of living in a world where people just like me had woken up in the morning, not knowing that in a few hours they would be slaughtered for no reason at all. It was yesterday that I didn’t only pray for France, but I prayed for all the other places where similar atrocities had occurred in recent months; I prayed for Beirut; I prayed for Syria; I prayed for Kenya… I prayed for all the innocent people who were losing their lives, losing their loved ones and losing their hope for survival.

I prayed a Muslim prayer, to my Muslim God, on my Muslim prayer mat, to end the suffering of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world.

And meanwhile, trending on twitter was the hashtag: #muslimsarenotterrorist.

Do you have any idea how upsetting it was to go on social media to share my condolences, and instead finding an attack on me. “F*ck Islam”. “Make them eat pigs”. “Bomb them all.” What? I shared the grief; I shared the pain; I shared the fury; so why on earth was I getting bombed?

And why on earth are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world being forced to publically condemn the attacks with a hashtag? How are we being held accountable for crimes committed by people who we don’t even believe to be a part of our religion? Why are innocent Muslims being pushed into railway tracks, being abused on the bus and slandered across social media because six people somewhere across the globe shouted an Islamic word before choosing to blow themselves up? This has gone on for too many years; people are jumping at any opportunity to demonise Muslims, and the only people who are truly benefiting from this are the Islamic extremist groups themselves. Don’t you see? By fuelling this division and hatred, we are falling into the Isis trap; this is exactly what they want. They want people to blame normal, ordinary, peace loving Muslims so that they can turn around and say, “See? They hate you. Come and join us.” This is what they want and we are succumbing to the trap.

Every time Islamic extremists carry out an attack, the global population of Muslims are expected to collectively apologise.

Well no. I’m not going to apologise. Blaming all Muslims for terrorism is like blaming all Christians for the KKK. It is simply not fair. There are hundreds of terrorist attacks in Europe every year, but the only ones that immediately circulate the media are the ones carried out by Muslims. The explicit irony that no one seems to be noticing is that the West is pointing its blood-stained finger accusingly at the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims… and yet telling them they are the inherently violent ones.

Your next door neighbour who is a Muslim is not a terrorist. The security guard in Tesco who says hello to you each week is not a terrorist. Your colleague who sits on the desk beside you at work is not a terrorist. My niece and nephew who go to school with your children every day are not terrorists and should not be targeted as such- JUST because they are Muslims. How DARE anyone call them vile names and say they should be thrown from their country of birth because 0.003% of the global “Muslim” population are committing murders in their name?

I was born in this country; I work in this country; I teach the children in this country; I live an honest life in this country; how dare ANYONE tell me that I don’t have a right to live here? How dare anyone tell me that my religion teaches to kill in the name of God? How dare anyone tell me that I should “go back to where I came from”?

I am a Muslim and this is where I came from. And just because you claim gunmen were heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before blowing themselves up, doesn’t mean that I won’t recite the same words tonight, in my room, but in prayer for all those who have lost their lives in this meaningless conflict.

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