It is no secret that this is a difficult time to be Muslim.
Islamophobia runs rampant and is fueled by the various acts of terror that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.
In the weeks following the Westminster terror attack in which Khalid Masood killed four people and injured several others during his rampage, a letter was found on a London bus allegedly penned by a 14-year-old anonymous Muslim girl.
The letter, addressed to the city of London, was discovered by a passenger who posted images of the correspondence on Reddit.
“I am a Londoner aged 14 years old I also happen to be a black Muslim,” the letter began.
She recalled her experience trying to go through her normal daily routine immediately following the attack.
“As I walked out the door at 8:15 as I usually do and as I saw the familiar faces of my everyday endeavors I wondered what they were thinking I tried my best and walked on smiling, hoping for smiles back,” she wrote.
"Some were returned and some weren't. I went into form and as we spoke about the current affairs I felt all eyes on me. I felt flushed and hot suddenly — almost guilty? What do I have to be guilty for?”
She expressed her fears about being Muslim amid these tense times, her concerns about being able to pursue her aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and hopes for her future children.
“There’s nothing more that I want than to finish my education and become a lawyer, but London is my home and I want that to happen here. Sometimes I wonder if that will happen and if I will be able to get a job 10 years down the line. I hope I can. It’s scary being a Muslim as these horrible acts of terror are happening and I hope that I can still live here 50 years down the line and that my future children will get to see the beauty of London and the amazing people who live here.”
Her poignant, yet eloquent letter is a plea for understanding and acceptance, two things not currently given to many Muslims. The note seeks to remind people not to blame the entire religion for the acts that these extremists have committed.
She closed the letter with a lighthearted conclusion, taking a facetious jab at her own penmanship.
“I have spent time writing this letter and you may decide to scrunch it up, keep it, or leave it behind for the next person to read. All I ask is someone learns something from this letter, even if all they learn is that I have terrible handwriting.”
Reddit user crlxzzz, who posted the letter, didn’t offer much context or detail about it other than the fact it was found on a bus, but kudos to them for sharing her harrowing message across a larger platform.
Several commenters offered both sympathy and empathy for the teen’s situation.
“Genuinely heartbreaking to have read that a 14 year old muslim [sic] girl feels this way. Hopefully, with our actions, both muslim [sic] and non-muslim [sic], together we can show she doesn’t have to feel this way,” wrote “YahyaYahyaYahya.”
There were, of course, some cynical and insensitive commenters as well, including “zakakaka” who wrote, “Religion is a choice. She’s always free to choose differently, or not to choose at all.”
While that may be true, no one should be made to feel that they have to change their spiritual beliefs to appease an intolerant society.
The point the girl’s letter makes — which the commenter clearly ignores — is that regardless of anyone’s religious choices, they should be free to practice their faith without fear of condemnation or being labeled a terrorist.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters