News and thoughts 

The last few months have been an onslaught of news – the systematic rise of democratically and legal oppression. Everything from Trump (and how much of a focus there was on the individual rather than the mainstream ideology he represents) followed by the #MuslimBan to the recent EU hijab ban. It’s all been a tidal wave of news after fake news. Exhausting. 

So I have stayed away from it all. I have been doing a lot of thinking – around the political climate we find ourselves in, whether there can be hope in all this – we have seen successes and a uniting of people’s in ways we haven’t seen, when is violence acceptable (following the split in opinion over the punching of the far-right “alt-right” leader), and why are people forced to prove themselves worthy of humanity for people to care (where doctors being affect by the #MuslimBan were seen as more worthy of their citizenship compared to a house wife on welfare for example). 

And I appreciate the above is all a word vomit. Especially on a day like today when we mourn the death of innocent people and wonder again what happened to humanity.  

On our screens we see a hatefilled terrorist who murdered and hurt too many innocent lives. And it’s painful – the waste and cruelty of it all. So twisted and confusing. MUSLIM TERRORIST they shout as soon as they see brown skin. No further evidence needed. It seems this has now been proven false and it is still unknown whether this was a politically motivated attack. 

But news is news, who needs facts when propaganda material is so readily available. Let us headline Tommy Robinson, not an expert not witness but someone who blames “Asian culture” and “Islam” for what happened. 

And I am filled in deep sorrow knowing what is to come. The increase in racism and islamophobia – spitting on the streets, girls hijabs pulled off their head, old men beaten up as they return home from prayer. The strengthing of racist and islamophobic laws. The fuel required by the rising powers to keep on rising. Towering over us with their watchful eyes as they strip away our rights and justice. 

Tighten the borders they should. *But he was born here*. Ship them all out is what they mean. 

And no one will say anything because they are scared. 
Any hope is hard to muster and I can’t help but know darker days are to come

Travelling 

Whilst everyone has long forgotten about the Easter weekend, returned back to work or realised they have even less time for their deadlines than they thought – I am still on holiday. In fact I am currently getting my foot massaged in Thailand.

And that’s given me some time to reflect on travelling with friends, travelling whilst visibily Muslim and travelling whilst attempting to observe the hijab.

Travelling with friends is a type of fun you just don’t get when you’re with family. Whether that be staying out late, just the jokes or the type of activities you’re able to get up to. In particular to my case – I don’t even have to worry about the holiday as I have a friend who likes organising. No need to book hotels, search for things to do or worry about routes. Being the eldest in my family, that was my role when we travelled – and boy was it stressful. Fun but stressful. I like having the mental capacity to completely enjoy myself.

All the friends I am travelling with are Muslim. But, unlike me, they all either don’t wear the hijab or are happy to take it off if they feel necessary. I on the other hand will never take off my hijab. My hijab is a part of my identify that I am not willing to compromise on that.

This does make it awkward when going to the beach or water parks. I do have a full length swimming outfit (basically a scuba divers outfit) but I feel super visible when I’m dressed like a sushi and everyone else look like salmon. This is already a massive compromise since I typically wear flowy outfits. I need to invest in one of those burkanise everyone is talking about!

It’s even worse when my friends went clubbing and essentially refused to take me if I kept my hijab on. I have been dancing before and regularly go to bars with work. It does make me uncomfortable and I would rather go somewhere where alcohol – and the atmosphere that surrounds such places – was not so prominent. But I do go along nonetheless. I’m sure clubbing would have made me feel very uncomfortable. I’m sure I would have felt like sushi. But it should have been me and not my friends who policed my faith.

Perhaps I should have started this post with dear diary…

Being visibly Muslim

I wrote about the stares and the fear on my personal Facebook. As I waited for the next train home a man walked towards me, giving me a glance that send shivers down my spine. My brother saw it too – my 16 year old baby brother. Without even saying anything he stood in front of me, protecting me from the tracks – just in case. Just in case this was another person filled with so much hate that they could push a women into the oncoming trains, or rip the headscarf off her head, shout vile abuse or spit at her.

He walked by, I was safe – that time. And I wanted to cry. Because I felt so exposed and so paranoid. I wanted to sob because my little brother felt it too. And I wanted to howl because I knew it was so much worse in other places – Paris and outside the multicultural bricks of London – and if I was struggling here, how on earth were my sisters getting on there?

The response I got felt like a punch to my gut. White friends from university – who I hadn’t spoken to in 2 years – telling me I’m the same as Donald Trump and all the facists. How I was spreading hate and I did not deserve to be in this community.

I don’t feel safe. Not in being visibly Muslim, not in expressing my feelings and not in finding solidarity.

This post was written in response to the daily prompt Safety First