You do not have my thanks

As the world begins to burn and racism is the new order of the day (I’m joking, it’s always been the order of the day), we’ve watched as the people stand up and march for one another. Donald Trump’s extreme and inhuman actions have caused a tidal wave of movement across the world, and his latest immigration ban suddenly has everyone rushing to the defense of Muslims. And yes, this is all brilliant and wonderful and we can all sing kumbaya around the fire later, but what I will not do is thank the rest of the world for coming to my defense. 

I’ve watched as countless Muslims continue to thank non-Muslims for marching on their behalf, for standing up on their behalf, or thanking them for writing inanely stupid statuses like, ‘I stand with my Muslim friends’ on social media.

I absolutely, unequivocally will not thank you for standing up for basic human rights. I will not thank you for doing what any decent human should. I will not thank you for choosing right over wrong. I won’t thank you for doing anything that is a simple act of normalcy.

How have we gotten to the point in which standing up for a group of people belonging to a particular religion is some kind of commendable act? It’s not. You do not deserve a Nobel Peace prize and you haven’t done anything amazing. You merely did what you’re supposed to do.

And let’s not forget that everything is linked. The years of religious discrimination, white supremacy and extreme islamophobia that has been orchestrated by the media and the governments of this world, including the British government, has all lead to this very moment in time. Donald Trump is only able to say the things he can, and do the things he’s done, because of foundations laid years ago.

When terrorist attacks trembled across countries and the headlines called for the genocide of Muslims, where were the marches then? Where were your placards and slogans and statuses in support of us? They were nowhere to be found and instead your silence resonated across the world. There were no statuses telling me I had a home and safety no matter what happened. There was only suspicion, narrowed eyes and ridiculous fucking questions like, ‘what will ISIS do next Salma?’ or, ‘what do these terrorists want Salma?’ Because naturally, as a Muslim, I hold the answers to both those questions.

The complicit silence of the masses, the stupid questions, the ignorance and the lack of awareness around sharing articles, links and messages on social media has delicately crafted Muslims as the latest sub-human category and led us here today. So no, you do not get some special prize or a thank you for doing what is the right thing. There are no prizes for taking part here.

My thanking you also suggests that you are somehow validating my position here. For helping me be seen as any other human should. As if you have helped raise me from inhumane, to someone with basic rights. It suggests that I was somehow below you, and of course in the eyes of the West, I always have been. Just because you’ve suddenly opened your eyes and realised that Muslims are also human does not earn you my breathless gratification. Well done, you’ve finally become a better person but don’t get your kicks and notions of a good Samaritan from me, get your cheap thrills elsewhere.

Do not misunderstand me, you should absolutely march. Every day if you have to. Write as many slogans as you can, scream every defiant chant that’s available and always fight. When I see hordes of people on the street shouting for justice it warms my heart and reminds me that there are still so many good and wonderful people in our world. People who are willing to stand in the cold and the rain because it’s the right thing to do.

But my fellow Muslims fawning over the efforts of those who stand by our side are not helping the narrative here. I will not apologies for my religion or the atrocities of people who call themselves Muslim, and nor will I trip over myself in gratitude for every non-Muslim who smiles kindly in my direction. This is just the very start of something, and someday soon we’re all going to have to stand arm in arm on the barricades, but we’re fighting for basic human rights here, and often, it’s a thankless task.

Salma El-Wardany