On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 67 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. While the degree of anti-Islam abuse varies from incident to incident, the driving issue remains that Muslims are largely looked down upon in the United States.
While verbal attacks are seemingly not as harmful as physical abuse, a Harvard law student who was a recent target of profanity-laced harassment due to Islamophobia explained the importance of witness intervention.
Harmann Singh, a Sikh Harvard law student, posted on Facebook that he was harassed near campus for being Muslim. The man who hassled and followed him used profanity to abuse him. He also used the word “Muslim” as though following Islam warrants an insult.
On Sunday, Singh wrote, “In a store a few blocks from campus I was accosted by a man who called me a 'f***ing Muslim.' He followed me to the checkout counter, aggressively asking me where I was from, and none of the other people in the store said a thing.”
Rather than turning a deaf ear to abuse, Singh urged bystanders to Islamophobic or racist incidents to intervene by speaking up. He continued to write about how people should stand up for others.
“While this pales in comparison to discrimination faced by others, and while I’m not particularly rattled/disheartened, bystander intervention is crucial. Whenever we see racism, sexism, Islamophobia, or xenophobia, we need to take a stand — all of us,” he said.
Unfortunately, the silence of witnesses to hateful incidents is incredibly commonplace. A popular comic strip detailed that witnesses who seek to be allies to those facing religious intolerance should intervene by starting a conversation with the person being attacked.
Banner photo: Facebook, Harmann Singh