I Guess No Good Deed Goes Unpunished for Vocal Peace-Loving Muslims

You know how every time you hear about radical Muslim attacks, the world becomes split with their responses?

  • “Death to all Muslims! They are all terrorists! Their religion teaches to kill!”
  • “Not all Muslims are evil! There is evil in all religions! Look at how many Muslims there are in the world- most are peace-loving!”
  • “It only takes a few radical Muslims to kill thousands! The silence of the peace-loving majority is deafening!”

Well hello there, I’m a peace-loving Muslim. I’m also an online marketer, which means I more or less know how to use different platforms to spread messages effectively. Knowing my ‘powers,’ I am not silent when it comes to matters such as terrorism, antisemitism, and the like. I’m also not aggressive- I take pride in my approach of staying real and relatable. Online and off, I k -eep my peace and interfaith efforts tasteful, engaging, and very open to respectful discussion.

The most common topic that is explored in each discussion I take part in, both online and in-person, revolves around the trials and tribulations of peace-loving Muslims that try to speak out. Everything finds a way to somehow lead to that.

Before you proceed, please bear in mind that everything I say is based on my personal experiences, and many interactions. I am not set to disprove prominent authorities, researchers, or anyone. I’m an average Joe, only speaking on behalf of what I have witnessed through my peace-loving Muslim-American lenses. So please continue with that understanding, and don’t come back at me with facts, stats, and links galore. We all know how to use Google to uncover information to back up our stand and disprove all others.

Peace-Loving Muslims Speaking Out? Damned if We Do. Damned if We Don’t.

As many of you are well aware, peace-loving Muslims that are vocal about their condemnation of attacks, interfaith initiatives, and all that good stuff are often met with anything but open arms.

Insults

From a general standpoint, they get insults hurled at them. We’ve all seen those insults. The ones mentioning goats, incest, pedophilia, polygamy, and the like. But it’s okay, we understand where it’s all coming from, and why it’s being said. That doesn’t deter most of us from being good. But it is strange though. And hurtful, cause it catches us off-guard. Most of all- it’s discouraging.

Anyone who expects the peaceful majority of Muslims to speak out must not discourage the ones that are trying.

Threats

When it comes to threats, I think Jews and Muslims are in the same boat. The types of threats we get are similar, and go beyond death threats. Our houses of worship, our businesses, our schools- they frequently receive threats despite being pure safe havens.

I know what you’re probably thinking right now… yes, I know there are some mosques and such that train to hate- but that’s not the case in the great majority of them. We get terribly shamed by terrorist acts in the name of Islam, fear the repercussions, and are getting worn out from defending ourselves saying we’re not one of them. The great majority of modern Muslim-run institutions in civilized areas worldwide, if anything, teach tolerance of all people and religions for prosperity. You just won’t see and hear of the good initiatives, because the media doesn’t find it sexy.

As vocal peace-loving Muslims, there’s a weird balance that needs to be maintained. We want to make an impact, but not too widespread such that we will be greeted with threats. We want to be known, but not to the point that we become targets of Islamophobes. And we want to band together, but strategically because we don’t want to put anyone or their families at risk. So maybe we’re better off operating solo. Isn’t it silly though?

Attacks

Attacks come in all forms for vocal peace-loving Muslims. Some of the most extreme cases made headlines internationally as the peace activists were forced to flee or go into hiding. I’ve received messages from dozens of Muslims from rural villages, telling me of how their neighbors or family members *disappeared* because of someone who tried to be vocal. Some of them had their homes broken into. A few tragically dealt with female members of their families being violated. Those are the most extreme cases.

As a result, many Muslims in rural areas are afraid to speak up in negative settings where they are outnumbered. They sometimes privately, quietly congregate, which is certainly fantastic for them, but only scales to a certain extent. And it doesn’t get covered by the media obviously, which means it’s good for nothing in the eyes of the public.

There are been Muslims that contacted me, saying they find themselves living double lives. One is to satisfy the backdated influential elders of their community by staying quiet, and the other is so make a positive difference (in their own limited way) of peace and unity when the elders aren’t looking, and as they slowly pass on. The ones that live double lives often have alias social media accounts, so the elders don’t find out. They want to learn more, and do more. They get inspired and fascinated by all the differences in the world that non-Muslims are accomplishing, and realize that they are typically stuck in a rut.

My Own Experience

I recently experienced my first attack. It was a cyber attack. Considering I’ve been vocal and active for quite some time now, I guess I had a good run without any drama.

Well, it finally happened.

>>> First let me say, for my friends and family who are reading- I am completely okay. It was nothing major at all. No one is at risk, especially me- I AM NOT AT RISK. I am completely safe, so please do not worry. This is just me being transparent about everything as usual. <<<

It was a very minor cyber attack, and it happened on my personal Instagram account. My personal Instagram is completely harmless, and mostly features selfies with my family, and food I’ve made. Every now and then if I dress up for an event, I’d post a pic of that too.

So here’s what happened.

The Action

A couple of days ago, I opened Instagram, and saw that I got a bunch of new (very long) comments. That was weird because I’m really not all that active there, nor did I post anything all that interesting. Anyway, there were maybe 30 new long comments, and I decided to skim through them because I was just about to have lunch with my parents.

Wow. Those comments were pretty nasty. They were randomly scattered across many pics, and were surprisingly a split between Muslims and Leftist Jews. The ones from the Leftist Jews claimed I was being brainwashed by the Zionists. The ones from the Muslims claimed that I am being paid off by AIPAC and rich Jews to be their token Muslim.

Like what the heck, huh? More and more comments were coming in, with storylines being increasingly intensified. And as long as I didn’t respond, it made them seemingly appear to be true. It was like Pallywood or something quickly unfolding before my eyes. I was afraid they were taking screenshots as they posted their toxic.

I started being accused of being a betrayer to Islam, for spreading hate about the religion. What? I never even remotely did anything of the sort! I was being accused of saying whatever Zionist Jews wanted me to say, as long as they paid top dollar. What? I never accepted a single dollar for any of my speaking engagements- the most I would ask for is travel arrangements. It was quickly getting worse, and they started tagging other accounts to join in on the cyber attack.

The Reaction

All this was happening, just as my mother was lovingly telling me to put my phone away so we can start eating. But I couldn’t let it continue! I also didn’t want to give in to my emotions by passionately responding to them, because I knew that would open a whole new can of worms. So I quickly set my Instagram account to “private,” and started blocking and reporting each of them, one by one. I didn’t get to take screenshots, because Instagram apparently deletes comments after you report them. I figured that was that, so I proceed eating with my parents.

Over the next few days, I got a bunch of new requests to connect by lots of accounts that featured profile photos of Islamophobe/Antisemitic images. I don’t even know how many- I just quickly blocked each of them as they came along. I may have also accidentally blocked some legit good people- my apologies to them. As a few more days went by, it died down, and eventually stopped. At least for now.

So Now What?

Again, I’m an online marketer. I have to be extra careful of my reputation online, not only for my own professional advancement, but also for the sake of the clients I represent. So what am I going to do now? Stay quiet, that’s what.

I don’t know how long I’m going to lay low, because I have no idea what sparked the sudden cyber attack in the first place. But it will be a while, because better safe than sorry.

You can call me anything you want for switching off to silent mode for a while. What I experienced is absolutely nothing compared to what other peace-loving Muslims experience for choosing to not be silent.

Please don’t say we’re not doing anything. Yes we are, in our own way given our capacities in our respective locations. But everything we do has to be done in waves- because support is scarce and we have too much to lose whenever we feel threatened by the negativity. The ridicule that comes from others noticing that the people you are fighting for are going against you- that’s really humiliating.

My only request to you is to offer encouragement if and when you see a Muslim trying to make a positive difference. Especially if you find insults being thrown at them. You don’t have to spend extensive time battling others on their behalf- just offer a kind word of support telling them to ignore the hate. I for one, always speak up for my Jewish friends whenever I see insults being thrown at them.

We’re in this together. Let’s teach others by our example.

About the Author
Farhana Rahman has been representing socially driven Israeli startups for over 5 years, and has been in the PR/Marketing industries for nearly 10 years. She currently works for SeeTree, a technology and service in the AgriTech space as their Marketing Director. Farhana always makes time to assist startups in an advisory role with initiatives surrounding product launches, marketing campaigns, and social strategy. Additionally, she finds enjoyment in giving presentations on those topics in company events and roundtables. In the rare instances Farhana is not glued to her mobile devices, you will find her cooking gourmet feasts for her parents, playing mindless games with her brother, or running (Netflix) marathons with her husband.
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