I’ve been keeping my distance from all things to do with the horrific act that occurred in France recently. I felt that if I got into the conversation, I would do what most Muslims like me do, try to defend my religion and condemn the fanatics -who carried out the attack- on the deaf ears of the public who are quick to continue criminalizing my faith.
Everyone loves to hate. But not many try to understand. The truth of the matter is the fanatics used my faith as a scapegoat. They are harming me as a person of my faith as much as they are increasing the hatred towards Muslims. They are misguided. Misinformed. Brainwashed. Twisting what my faith teaches to their needs and desires. Call it what you will, they are not Muslims. Not in my eyes. They are simply fanatics.
I recently noticed a trend on Twitter #JesuisAhmed. This trend was picked up after people realized that one of the cops who was on duty to protect the magazine and subsequently murdered, was a Muslim man. And people took to Twitter saying that Ahmed Merabet, again a Muslim, died protecting the rights of the magazine to ridicule and insult his religion and culture. And why was the media not showing this side of our religion?
If the media readily blames Islam for the actions of the fanatics, why are they not readily “blaming” Islam for the actions of the cop defending the magazine or fighting back against the fanatics?
I’m so grateful that people don’t only depend on the news for their information anymore. But back to Ahmed Merabet, the 42 year old cop killed during the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
Many tweeters are standing up and saying #jusuisahmed, or I am Ahmed. I want to do the same. I am an English teacher at a socially and economically underprivileged high school in Houston Texas. If anything were to happen at my school, I know without a doubt I would lay my life on the line to protect my students. Even the one who called me a terrorist when he found out I was Muslim. Even the one who gives me such a hard time and doesn’t appreciate or care how hard I’m working in an effort to provide him with an education he cares nothing for. I am Ahmed.
A tweeter responded to my retweets of #jusuisahmed tweets and said that the cop had no idea what he was protecting and dying for- that he was just doing his job. I disagree. The magazine has been the recipient of threats for a while now, and when that is the case cops are often assigned to protect those threatened. Ahmed knew exactly what he was protecting.
He could have easily ran away or surrendered or done any number of things that would have been viewed as (at worst) complying with the fanatics or (at best) protecting himself. But he didn’t.
He knew where he was and why he was there. He wasn’t there just to protect random people. He wasn’t randomly at the magazine with another fellow officer. He was there to protect the magazine and its workers. He was there to protect those cartoonists who ridiculed and insulted his religion.
It doesn’t matter if he was “devout” or not. I don’t consider myself a devout Muslim, but I would still be hurt and offended by anything that ridiculed and insulted me. I would still protect my students if anything were to befall my school. I am Ahmed.
He could have easily requested to be assigned a different job if he didn’t believe in protecting those who exercised the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. He could have used the cop-out of “I can’t protect them because what they are doing is “against my beliefs””. But what they are doing isn’t against his or my beliefs. They are voicing their views. Just like I am voicing my views here. And he knew that they were human beings just like anyone else who needed protection. His job was to provide them that protection. Just as it is my job to protect my students who are in my care whether I liked them or not. Whether they saw things the way I did or not. My job isn’t to change them. His job wasn’t to walk away. And so in the end, Ahmed, the Muslim cop, was one of the first to die trying to protect those who were lost. I am Ahmed.
For further reading check out World.Mic’s article. The Loonwatch article. The Medium article. Huffpost article. If you’re more the video type check out what Linda Sarsour has to say about the attacks.