As terrorist organization ISIS has become more bold in its attacks on Western cities and laid siege to parts of the Middle East, Muslims around the world have also suffered. Syrians continue to risk life and limb as they flee chaos back home while practitioners of Islam throughout the world have weathered accusations that they are terrorists, or have been physically harmed.
In the face of such open hostility, it may seem easier to back down and be quiet, but 15-year-old Isra Mohammed, a student at Kenton School in the U.K., refuses to let hatred deter her from speaking out against Islamophobia.
In early December, Mohammed stood before 2000 students and teachers at the Newcastle-based school to challenge their ideas of Islam and the growing wave of Islamophobia that has affected many of the Muslims she knows, herself included.
“Islam is a beautiful religion just like many others,” Mohammed explains, mentioning the religion’s five pillars. “It’s a religion of peace and mercy. In Islam, even a smile is charity.”
So, she says, it goes without saying that the very actions of ISIS stand in sharp relief to what Islam and all true Muslims believe. To kill an innocent person is to kill all of humanity, Mohammad says, and violating this basic tenet of Islam goes against everything the religion stands for.
What ISIS wants, she explains, is for Western countries to turn against their Muslim populations, leaving them nowhere to turn but to the terrorist organization. In no uncertain terms, Mohammad says that being Islamophobic is tantamount to supporting ISIS.
“So, if you are someone with a Facebook account, Twitter account, [or] Instagram account, or any form of social media, which I’m sure everyone here has, and you are throwing out masses of hate, you are helping ISIS, you are supporting ISIS,” says Mohammad. “This is what they want. So, think about it: Do you want to be the person helping a terrorist organization?”
The 15-year-old beseeches her classmates to rethink their perception of Islam and to realize that it is Muslims who suffer when organizations like ISIS distort a religion that, above all, stands for peace.
“Terrorism has no religion and terrorism is not the face of Islam,” Mohammad concludes. “People link us to terrorism, but we are not terrorists. They have hijacked our religion and used it against us.”
Check out her moving speech in its entirety below:
[Image via YouTube]