Islamophobia is a sad reality that the world of today faces. Sometimes being present blatantly in the form of attacks on Muslims and sometimes disguised as a ‘government policy’ to control the way they dress, speak or eat. Not only in western nations, but in even our own India where Muslims have a ‘minority status,’ incidents of torture, harassment, flogging and the most prevalent one- discrimination are reported.
In this dismal scenario, Maeril a French artist offers a brilliant solution. A freelance artist and illustrator who is living and working in Paris, she posted a guide how to deal against Islamophopic harassment. She made a thoughtful and honest bystander’s guide to deal Islamophobic harassment in both French and English. The post has been designed as part of her work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook.
In Maeril’s bystander’s guide, she has illustrated a four-step-approach on how to deal with such situations. In the first step, she asks a person to take initiative and engage the victim into a conversation, and ignore the aggressor.
In the second step, she suggests to make small talk about anything, to make the victim feel safe.
The most important step according to her is the third one as she emphasises, “Don’t acknowledge the attacker’s presence.” Maeril adds that once completely ignored the attacker would feel ‘irrelevant’ and would leave the space, seeing how the victim and the bystander have engaged in a conversation without heeding any attention to his remarks.
And finally, she adds to bring the person being harassed to a ‘neutral’ space. But very significantly she highlights, “Respect their wishes if they tell you they’re ok and just want to go.”
The complete post reads:
This is an illustrated guide I made as part of my co-admiring work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook! It will be published there shortly.
The technique that is displayed here is a genuine one used in psychology – I forgot the name and couldn’t find it again so if you know about it, feel free to tell me!
Some could say: “Yes but you can use that technique for instances of harassment other than Islamophobic attacks!”, and my reply is: Sure! Please do so, it also works for other “types” of harassment of a lone person in a public space!!
However I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes – that way one cannot say they “didn’t know what to do”!
I’d like to insist on two things:
1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!
2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over – call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!