I’m Muslim and I’m not Sorry

“This isn’t a Canadian value, this is not what Canada represents,” a person commented on a CBC article.

The article was about a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., which was burned down this weekend, almost coincidentally after the horrendous attack in Paris.

Peterborough police officials have concluded it was a hate crime.

I think about replacing the words Canadian with Islamic and Canada with Islam, and I feel melancholia rush through my veins, flooding me instantly.

The statement has been echoed multiple times already by Muslims worldwide, pleading to society that we’re separate entities from ISIS, that our religion has taught us anything but to attack.

It feels almost like an obligatory burden that we have to take on ourselves, to apologize time and time again for something we weren’t a part of.

We’re still apologizing for 9/11. I don’t even remember much of that day, but I still find myself telling people that this isn’t the Islam I grew up with, nor is it the Islam my parents have taught me.

I recently read an article about a Toronto couple who has a sign up in their front yard asking Muslims if they’re sorry about everything that has happened.

Why wouldn’t we be? Are Parisian humans any different from us? Am I being asked to apologize for our people’s wrongdoings?

I’m 20 years old, but these situations make me feel like a child. I’m saying sorry for a situation even I don’t understand.

Being Muslim in this day and age is difficult enough with trying to find a balance between the Western ways of life, as well as honouring what our prophets have guided us to do.

Yet, when people who could be your barista at Starbucks, or your neighbour you bump into while grocery shopping, want you to put aside your developing identity to validate their anger and despair, you can’t help but hate yourself for a second.

It makes my heart ache to think that while I grew up listening to beautiful recitations of the Qur’an and the peaceful echo of the Azaan, I now have to silence it on my phone when it plays out loud.

It hurts me when I see a woman matching a scarf to her outfit, thinking she looks beautiful, but someone has to respond with, “You don’t have to wear that here.”

Another horrific incident took place in North York. A mother was kicked in the stomach and had her headscarf ripped off outside her children’s school.

When the article was shared, responses like, “She should have that garbage bag ripped off,” dominated my screen.

What fault was it of that woman, that she was punished and demeaned like this?

Was it because she belonged to the same faith?

I’ve heard children tell their parents to leave their traditional garb and mother-tongue at home, so they don’t bring attention to themselves when they step out of the house.

We put these parts of us away because they make us look like the bad guys.

If I have to say sorry to anybody, it should be to myself. It should be to my parents. It should be to my fellow Muslims.

I’m sorry I let apologizing to the West take precedence. We shouldn’t have to apologize for something we didn’t do.

Featured image by CPG Grey / CC BY 2.0