Anti-Muslim sentiments have been on a terrifying rise across the world ever since the tragic terrorist attack in Paris, France, last year. The actions of a few extremists have demonized Muslims everywhere, forcing them to live in a constant fear of being harassed or attacked by people whose ignorance has led them to believe that everyone who follows Islam is somehow a terrorist.
To remedy this situation to some extent, a French-Middle Eastern illustrator, who goes by the name Maeril, created a bystander’s guide detailing how one should act if they witness Islamophobic behavior in a public setting.
“I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes. That way one cannot say they 'didn’t know what to do,’” she wrote on Tumblr, noting that this technique may work on any form of harassment.
To break it down, Maeril’s strategy has four simple steps:
Let the attacker know that their target is not utterly alone and helpless.
“Pick a random subject and start discussing it”
Ignore whatever hate the attacker is spewing and continue the conversation.
“Keep building the safe space”
Remain close to the victim and do not acknowledge the attacker.
“Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves”
Keep up the dialogue until the attacker leaves. If need be, escort the victim to a safe place, if not, let them know they are safe now.
“I’d like to insist on two things: 1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked,” the artist explained. “2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over – call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!”
The graphic is available in both French and English.