About a month ago, Duke University had made the courageous announcement that the Muslim call-to-prayer would be broadcasted weekly from its campus chapel. As much of the world was embracing anti-Muslim and Islamophobic sentiment, Duke seemingly had adopted a different attitude.
A little less than a month ago, many people made it clear that they weren't too happy with Muslims being made to feel welcomed. Duke announced that it would no longer be having the Muslim call-to-prayer broadcast, citing "serious and credible concerns about security" as a basis for their decision.
Last night those concerns came to fruition as up the street from Duke, Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, three young Muslim students, were killed near UNC Chapel Hill by a 46-year old white man named Craig Stephen Hicks. Letting hate prevail seemingly didn't work as a solution to stopping hate.
The anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States isn't just rising, it's really high. An unwillingness and indifference on the part of individuals and institutions to put it in check is a large part of the problem.
What do you think it teaches students at one of the top universities in the world when their administration says we can't stand up for a minority group on our campus? What does it teach those students who will be going out into the workforce, making decisions on policy, becoming academics, leading companies and building out their own initiatives?
The same thing that it teaches the broader society when mosques are kept from being open and built, when unjust surveillance and profiling policies are legitimized and implemented, when media has no problem making cursory links of every and any Muslim to terrorism, but dig deep to connect people of other backgrounds to troubled childhoods and mental health issues, and when politicians are allowed to build racist campaign platforms taking advantage of fear and ignorance. It teaches them that it's ok for Muslims to be treated differently, to in fact be mistreated, simply because they are Muslim, and that there is no problem with that.
There is, in fact, a huge problem with it.
It's a shame that people have to be killed for there to be a recognition of their value as humans. #BlackLivesMatter, #MuslimLivesMatter, are not simply calls for self-empowerment on the part of specific minority groups. To me, they are calls for a recognition that with each death,with each Eric Garner, each Deah Barakat, each Rafael Ramos & Wenjian liu, indifference is becoming more alive and in the process our shared humanity is dying.
Will there be droves of global leaders marching in the streets of North Carolina, elbowing each other to make sure they stand at the front of the pack and let the world know that they are outraged by the killing of these three innocent young Muslims? Probably not. But will you stand up, simply because you are able to and it's the right thing to do?
That question has to be answered in word and action by each one of us. Hopefully too many more people won't have to suffer in order for us to realize that.