Ending Islamophobia Requires Inviting The West In

Following global reaction to the tragic and senseless attack in Paris during the weekend, many people began to ask where was such a strong response to terrorist attacks in Beirut. Beirut used to be known as the Riviera of the Middle East. Tourists swarmed from all over the world to vacation in the beautiful city. That all quickly disintegrated with the onset of the Lebanese Civil War which spread sectarian violence and jihadi terrorism. How many Westerners have been to Beirut recently? For decades it has been viewed as a war zone. Compare this to France. Social media was filled not only with the French flag, but photos of people visiting Paris on Honeymoons and family vacations. If Westerners seem to be more shocked by such senseless violence in Paris, it is because they are more familiar with it. Paris is somewhere they go shopping. It is somewhere they vacation.

One of the best ways to bring compassion is to create familiarity. Reallly getting to know someone makes it much harder to hate them. This was proven during recent anti-Islam protests in America where instead of responding with more hate, the Muslims responded with love. In response to angry Westerners shouting insults, the Muslims gave hugs and invited the protesters into the mosque.

What started as this:

561bec851400002a00c79b13Ended as this:

anti-islam-protest-2-1024x577This is the reason that, despite still facing Islamophobia, Muslims are far safer in America than they are almost anywhere else. A recent study even found that it Jews are victims of hate crimes in America at much higher rate than Muslims.

imrsNo compare to Pakistan. When was the last time you saw a Western family vacationing here? US State Department actually warns Americans NOT to travel to Pakistan unless it is essential. And the stories of Westerners in Pakistan are almost never about honeymoons or fond memories, they are about kidnappings, threats, and being harassed and screamed at for being Western while trying to eat in a restaurant.

It is not an easy puzzle to solve, but to decrease hatred and increase compassion one thing we must find a way to do is to connect on a human level. We need to spend less time talking about our differences and our grievances and spend more time finding out what we have in common. To do this, the West should open its doors to refugees, yes that is not denied, but we must find a way to invite the West into our own homes and mosques also.

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