The most sainted of people

By Joanna Farley

Since September 11, the world has cast a suspicious eye towards anyone of "Middle Eastern descent." Mosques have been burned, Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus have been attacked–apparently some people don’t realize there’s a difference–threats have been issued against Islamic groups and the media is having a field day.

While I can understand how some people might be suspicious of those who are
Muslim, or look like they could be, I am still disgusted by it. All people should live free from discrimination regardless of their race or religion. The free world, which prides itself on its human rights, has forgotten this. Thanks to media and personal prejudices, people are starting to associate the words Muslim and Middle East with terrorism.

Maybe I should give my definition of a Muslim. I have studied Islam and see it is a peaceful religion with a foundation of love and charity, but I have learned far more from the woman I consider my best friend.

She is a pacifist, someone who believes in love, peace and the beauty of God. We have had many discussions on religion and hold many of the same views, even though I consider myself a left-wing Protestant. She is the person who takes me out for coffee when I fight with my boyfriend, apologizes profusely for being five minutes late, buys me teddy bears when I’m having a bad week, and calls me from school in Baltimore to help with a school assignment.

She is currently taking public health at John Hopkins, one of the premiere medical schools in the world, and plans to become a pediatrics doctor in an Intensive Care Unit. However, before she attends medical school, she plans on travelling to Pakistan to volunteer as a medic in refugee camps. The only thing that stops me from putting her name forward for consideration as a saint is that she misses the requirements of being dead or Catholic.

Would you guess from my description that she is a Muslim of East Indian ancestry? Would it change anything if you did?

There are many Muslims I consider friends, from a girl I hung out with once in junior high who offered me lifts in her father’s taxi during the transit strike, to the majority of people I have volunteered with.

What differentiates these people from myself? They are all more generous than I am, their religion is different and their skin tone is different.

In the wake of the tragedies in America, I can board a plane, speak my mind, and be confident that my skin colour allows people to think I am not a threat to them. However, just because I am white, speak with a British accent, occasionally wear a cross, and can spout off the Ten Commandments and the 23rd Psalm, should not make me anymore "safe" than someone with olive or brown skin and a headscarf.

If you’re looking for an obvious threat, maybe you should take a look at me. I’m an immigrant and I have an audible accent while my Canadian-born and raised best friend has never worn a headscarf.


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