Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Standing up to Hate (A Love Letter to my Muslim Friends)

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
My blog has become rather quiet again lately. I’d blame my studies and crazy life, but I confess it is also because I’ve started to be swayed by the “safety via keeping a low profile” philosophy followed by many of our colleagues here in Algiers. The more I learn and the more I integrate myself into my new community, the more quiet I become about how I spend my days, what social organizations I’ve joined, and what I think. This is a shame because, as my Facebook friends* know, I have been having a lot of fun these past five months playing tourist and discovering the beautiful aspects of Algeria as well as neighboring Morocco.

There is a specific thought, though, that’s been eating at me a lot lately, so I’ve decided to share it as an open letter—a letter specifically to my Muslim friends.

To my devout Muslim friends:

Some of you I have only just met; others entered my life many years ago. First of all, I would like to say thank-you to each of you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for the casual conversations, the hallway banter, and for being a friendly face. Thank you for being there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for helping me raise my daughter. Thank you for even showing up regularly to my ballroom dance classes. ;)

Thank you for inviting me to join your holy meals—from feeding me as a hungry undergrad in Washington, DC (no, it was no coincidence that I hung out at the American U. interfaith center frequently around sunset during Ramadan) to welcoming my family to the Iftar at your mosque in Plainfield, Indiana. Thank you for teaching me what your faith means to you. For sharing why you do—or don’t—chose to wear a hijab. Thanks for including me in special events in your life—like wedding celebrations.

There’s been a lot of chatter online by self-proclaimed Christians about how Muslims like you need to stand up to violent hate groups who self-identify as Muslim. Since the logic is that one is responsible for the actions of others who identify as the same religion, I offer my deepest apologies. I apologize because I have failed to effectively stand up to those who call themselves followers of Jesus yet they slash your tires, insult you, hurt people you love, and make you feel fearful to be open about your faith. I apologize for the hate crimes and the massacres and the vitriol spewed on the evening news. I apologize that, as one person of faith speaking to another, I don’t know how exactly we can stop the madness.

I now find myself living in a country where Christians are not popular, to say the least.  It doesn’t help that the older generations remember the heinous acts committed against Algerians by those who claimed to follow Christ. To my new Algerian Muslim friends, I say a special thank you for being kind to this Christian.         

I am not sure what else I can write other than say "I love you" and let the rest be read between the lines. 

Standing with you faithfully,


*If you send me a Facebook friend request but don’t already know me personally, please include a message introducing yourself and telling why you want to be friends.