Why every time terror strikes us, Muslims have to explain themselves?
Bengaluru, March 25: In the Bollywood movie, My Name is Khan, actor Shah Rukh Khan's famous dialogue, "My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist", succinctly defines the predicament of being a Muslim in a terror-ravaged world.
The moment a terror attack strikes anywhere in the world, Muslim population comes under the scanner.
The blame game starts and the stigmatization of Muslims begins with a renewed vigour.
Right from social media to political leaders, everyone blames anyone who is a Muslim. As if all Muslims are some kind of explosive devices ready to blow up the whole world.
In these critical times, when suspicious eyes gaze through the law abiding Muslim men and women, they have no other alternative, but to explain themselves and Islam, which like all religions preach love, peace and harmony.
Social media fuels hatred?
After multi-terror attacks were reported from Brussels on Tuesday (March 22), Muslims across the world were questioned.
As social media users started venting their shock and anger over the dastardly attacks, it was the Muslims who faced the wrath.
On Twitter #StopIslam was trending, where Muslims and their religion were blamed for violence across the world. However, there were many sane tweets too which came in defence of Muslims.
A similar debate was rife on Twitter in the wake of multiple-terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, which left more than 130 people dead. Hashtags like #TerrorismHasNoReligion and #NotInMyName trended during that time.
The tweets under these hashtags were mostly posted by peace-loving Muslims, who condemned the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam. However, many criticized such social media trends and argued such messages were reductive or unnecessary, and could further propagate stereotypes.
In both the Brussels and Paris terror attacks, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks.
Stop propagating stereotypes
"It is time for us to end stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. Terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda don't represent the world Muslim population. They are using religion to defend their crimes. So, why question the intention of a common Muslim man or woman?" asks Sajid M, a research scholar in Bengaluru.
Good Muslim versus Bad Muslim
Similarly, when a controversy like chanting of Bharat Mata ki Jai is ignited by political parties in India, it is the Muslims who come under fire.
"Many Hindus also have reservations about mandatory chanting of Bharat Mata ki Jai. Nobody questions their patriotism, but if a Muslim expresses his/her opposition, they are called as anti-national," says Pinky T, an IT professional in the city.
When Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, was executed at Yerwada Jail in Pune in 2012, TV footages mostly focused on Muslims celebrating his death.
"We can't only blame the media for such portrayal. Even Muslims also want to show that they are 'good' Muslims. Now, we have a tendency to identify Muslims as good or bad in India. This is again dangerous, and gives rise to division," says media professional Meghana Upadhaya.
As the debate continues, certainly it is not easy for Muslims to defend themselves every day for crimes committed by blood thirsty terrorists faraway from civilian territories.