Do all Republicans hate Muslims? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
In January, friends invited me to attend a silent protest at a Republican political rally. I’m not very politically active; my interests lie more in interfaith activities and building bridges between people who are different.
My friend enticed me to go because her main purpose was to take part in a silent protest against hate speech. That appealed to me because politics has become more about vilifying the other. Not just one’s opponent, but anyone who is different. That kind of rhetoric from anyone holding the microphone drives wedges between people, creating an environment of suspicion and hate toward anyone who is different.
As an American I feel that standing up against hate speech is in keeping with American ideals, so I decided to go. As a Muslim American who wears hijab I realized the rally would be an opportunity to connect with people who had probably never met a Muslim before.
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I was pleased to find attendees welcoming. One lady said, “It’s really nice to see you here.” I didn’t feel anti-Muslim sentiments before the rally started. But by the time we stood in silent protest the crowd had been whipped into a frenzy by statements like, “Syrian refugees are ISIS supporters,” “they hate us,” “they are out to get us.”
When security noticed the eight of us standing, they asked us to leave. People shouted ridiculous things at us, but the most memorable thing was a woman who took my hand and said, “I’m so sorry this is happening.”
That woman and the rest of the welcoming attendees are the reason I don’t believe all Republicans hate Muslims. However, I know there is a great deal of false information out there about Islam and its followers.
In order to ease some of those fears, God willing, I’m going to Cleveland during the Republican National Convention this week. I will try to connect with attendees in the hopes of having friendly interactions that will leave them with a positive image of Muslims and Islam.
I plan to give flower pens to attendees in an effort to create opportunities for conversations.
It may seem silly to offer strangers a smile and a flower pen, but maybe we need a little silly at a time when so many are feeling wounded. We, as Americans and citizens of the world, need to find ways to come together across our differences and work to make this world a better place.
Although there is a lot of hate in the world, love conquers hate. While hate is the consequence of cowardice, love requires courage. It’ll take some courage to deal with people who may be hostile, but I find guidance in the Quran, which says:
Among the servants of God, the Most Merciful, are those who walk upon the earth in humility and when the ignorant ones address them [harshly] they reply “Salam” (Peace). 25:63
MrsRoseHamid@gmail.com. This first appeared in the Huffington Post.