French Artist Shows How To Confront Islamophobes In Public
A 35-year-old woman wearing traditional Muslim attire was window shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City when a man set her blouse on fire and walked away. The woman was unhurt in the attack and it was investigated as a potential hate crime by the New York Police Department. Sadly, this attack wasn’t an isolated incident. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2016 was the second worst year for attacks on mosques (after 2015) in U.S. history. “We are clearly seeing a spike in attacks on individual Muslims and Islamic institutions in New York and around the country, which should be of concern to all Americans,” the council said in a statement.
Donald Trump’s candidacy and election stoked the flames of Islamophobia in the U.S., and it’s on the rise in many other parts of the world as well. As a response to the hatred and violence, Maeril, a French artist, created a comic on how to assist the victims of Islamophobia when they’re being harassed in public. “I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately,” she wrote on Tumblr, “and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes — that way one cannot say they ‘didn’t know what to do.’”
Here’s her full Tumblr post:
This is an illustrated guide I made as part of my co-admining work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook! It will be published there shortly.
The technique that is displayed here is a genuine one used in psychology — I forgot the name and couldn’t find it again so if you know about it, feel free to tell me!
Some could say: “Yes but you can use that technique for instances of harassment other than Islamophobic attacks!”, and my reply is: Sure! Please do so, it also works for other “types” of harassment of a lone person in a public space!!
However I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes — that way one cannot say they “didn’t know what to do”!
I’d like to insist on two things:
1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!
2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over — call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!
For my fellow French-speakers: I will translate it in French and post it on my page as soon as I can :)
Please don’t hesitate to share this guide as it could push a lot of people to overcome bystander syndrome!!
Lots of love and stay safe!
Update: This article originally appeared on September 15, 2016.
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