Not all Muslims are the same. Not all Muslims live their lives in the same way. Every Muslim is different from the next. Not all Muslims are like the one’s you see on the news. Not all Muslims are terrorists.
I wake up, brush my teeth, put on a pair of skinnies and a nice top, put on my make up, put on my head scarf, plug in my iPod, blast my music, and leave my house. That’s when it starts.
I get weird looks as I walk down the street because of what people perceive a young girl in a veil to be. Being Muslim is not what you see in the tabloids, where we are portrayed as either living in poverty or as part of some extremist group intent of blowing things up.
I met a girl recently and we were talking about normal teenager stuff, and I mentioned the kind of music I like. She was shocked, “Oh my God, you listen to music?” and I just looked at her and laughed.
You might have expected me to be offended, but I wasn’t; I just found it really funny, as if I don’t think like, or enjoy things other teenagers do.
I have learnt to live with being stereotyped, but it still amazes me how ignorant some people can be. You come to expect it, as that’s the way the media have decided to present my community – it’s still painful and upsetting though.
I want to set people straight and scream: “Just chill out. I’m not an extremist, and I’m really not going to bomb our city!”
I can understand why these cliches about Muslims exist, and why the media report the things they do. A lot of it comes from fear of things that are different, but also fear of things that people who claim to be Muslim have done. Terrorist attacks changed the way the public looked at Muslims forever.
It’s very sad: who knows what goes through those terrorists’ minds when they blow themselves up or set out to kill people. They might claim it was their ‘duty to God’, but what kind of religion influences violent action? The Islam that I know certainly doesn’t see violence or terrorism as a good thing.
I want each Muslim to be seen for who they are, for how they treat other people, and not be judged by the actions of a tiny minority. It’s like thinking that all white people are racist because a small percentage votes BNP.
It’s important for everyone to learn how to deal with being stereotyped. I could spend most of my time at home, only ever associate with other Muslims and avoid places where I might face confrontation, but I don’t.
I can’t live my life like that. I don’t want to stop doing things I enjoy, things that make me happy.
Besides, not everyone is so judgmental: some of my closest friends are not Muslim. They understand that I’m no different to them even though I wear a headscarf. We do things together that most teenagers do: party, listen to music, read magazines, I have crushes on really good-looking celebrities, and socialise on Facebook. I’m just me. Teenage Muslim Girl!
So next time you see a Muslim don’t judge them straight away. What you read in the paper and see on the news isn’t the whole truth.
Each person can interpret the words of their holy book in their own way, and the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.