I Speak Arabic & I am Not a Terrorist

A student at the University of California was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight and interrogated by the FBI because he spoke Arabic. The amount of repression I felt after reading this story and others similar is indescribable. I imagined myself in his place, not in my scariest nightmares have it crossed my mind that a day will come when speaking my mother tongue could mean that I will be humiliated and be considered a criminal. It is very scary how xenophobia developed so quickly and so badly.

It is true the Middle East is witnessing its worst phases in history and that many of the acts of terrorism nowadays are executed by some Arabs, but - and probably you heard that a lot - that doesn't mean people of the whole region are terrorists. But think about it, throughout history there has been many massacres by leaders and soldiers from different nationalities, but never ever their languages nor nationalities became targets of that kind of discrimination and hate crimes like the ones Arabs are facing now.

I cannot blame the woman who called on security after hearing someone speaking Arabic on the flight because that's a natural reaction of a person whose head is filled with false information about Arabs in general and whose fear is wrongly directed because of the manipulation of media. Many media outlets became the wood of the hate machine. Just take a look at the way they report on stories of terrorism, the difference they make in reporting a terror act done by a white male Vs the one carried out by any person from a different ethnicity, and how they paint people from the Middle East as demons not as human beings who suffer from terrorism more than any others. One of the most jaw-dropping acts of prejudice I have ever seen was when I read a story right after a terror incident has happened and the editors were quoting a witness who said he heard "someone speak Arabic" in the area as a telling evidence! For the love of God, what do they expect this to mean? That an Arab is definitely the terrorist here? Even if that turns out to be true afterwards, do you expect the terrorist to speak his mother tongue/or speak in the first place in the scene before exploding a bomb?

Associating an entire language with such an evil act is wrong, illogical and discriminatory.

420 million people speak Arabic, which makes it the sixth most spoken language. Putting those millions in the same group with terrorists is inhumane Nazi-like bigotry. Instilling fear in those who speak Arabic in western countries is preventing them from exercising their own identity, a thing that could force many of them into closed isolated communities instead of opening up to others round them. If you think you are fighting terror by terrorizing innocent people, think again because what you will be doing is simply confirming the logic the bad guys are using to recruit the naive youth. When the basic human rights we claim to defend day and night become the first thing we ignore when it comes to people from certain ethnicities or religions, how does that make us any different from the very radical group we are fighting?

It is OK to be scared of terrorism, we all are, but please don't scare me when I exercise my right of speaking my language, don't humiliate & judge me for how I look. Don't be a terrorist.