Despite Heroic Efforts Following Attack, Manchester Muslims Face Hatred At Home

English Muslims brace for backlash

Members of the Muslim community attend a candlelight vigil at Albert Square on May 23, 2017, to honor the victims of Monday evening’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Members of the Muslim community attend a candlelight vigil at Albert Square on May 23, 2017, to honor the victims of Monday evening’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Monday’s terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester prompted incredible acts of heroism from the city’s Muslim and Sikh population. Muslim doctors and nurses worked around the clock to minimize casualties and injuries form the attack, which left 22 injured and 59 wounded. Muslim and Sikh taxi drivers have also received widespread praise for driving people home for free throughout the night.

Other Muslim residents of the city offered up their homes to those who could not get home, as part of the #roomsformanchester campaign that took place over Twitter that night. Muslim organizations have also set up charities to raise funds to help victims of the attacks. Earlier this evening, the Ramadan Foundation, a Manchester- based Muslim community organization, held a multi-faith vigil to remember victims and send a message of unity against terrorism.

Muslims suffer disproportionately from terrorist attacks. Globally, most victims of terrorism identify as Muslim. Extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda have killed tens of thousands of Muslims, and displaced many more. Muslims are persecuted for their faith in many parts of the world, particularly in South and Southeast Asia.

For Muslims living in Western countries, every attack usually triggers increases of Islamophobic acts in their communities, often violent ones. Manchester’s quarter million-strong Muslim population is already fearing reprisal attacks, and there have already been reports of hate crimes and an arson on a mosque in the Manchester area over the last two days.

Such violence is not limited to the aftermath of terrorist attacks. According to the Huffington Post’s Islamophobia Project, there have been almost 400 anti-Muslim acts in the US in 2016 alone. Sikhs have also faced discrimination and hate crimes, as they are often mistaken for Muslims. Other minorities, including Christians, have also been targeted in this way. Even when not threatened, Muslims often face societal pressure to apologize for terrorist attacks, as if their religion automatically implicates them as terrorist co-conspirators.

Despite the fear of backlash, Muslims communities have always been at the forefront of responding to terrorist attacks and other hateful acts, even if they were not the ones targeted. For example, when vandals destroyed a Jewish cemetery in a spate of hate crimes following President Trump’s electoral victory, it was a Muslim organization that raised funds and help to fix the damage.

Since 2015, Europe and the US have suffered about 20 separate attacks tied to extremist organizations, claiming about 400 lives. The horrifying tragedy of such attacks is exacerbated only by the mindless Islamophobic reprisals that follow them. Though both sets of heinous acts represent the worst of our society, they have not fulfilled their goal of destroying Western society as we know it. Heroic actions, such as those by individuals in Manchester on Monday night, are a significant reason why.

Global Outlook // Manchester / Terrorism / World