High Level Forum Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred
Encountering Ahmad Mohibi and two other young millennials at the United Nations for the High Level Forum Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred on January 17, 2017 was inspirational and brought a depth of participation and meaning to this insightful informative forum. Many of the speakers and panelists alluded to similar facts: the rising number of hate crimes, the underreported number of incidences, the collaboration, networking and partnerships among government, civil society, faith based, business and community groups. One distressing statement was repeated several times: Isn’t it sad that there has to be this meeting – a high level forum on combatting anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred?
As the day went on, as speakers and panelists spoke and as participants raised their questions, the energy in the room seemed very focused on addressing all forms of hatred and discrimination, including anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred. Some of the phrases of speakers and panelists that come back to inspire me to action are:
- Extraordinary courage of those standing up to discrimination and hatred.
- Psychological impact, especially of children being bullied in school.
- Those present at today's meeting are bridge builders.
- Need an alternative narrative – one that recognizes, understands, challenges and corrects the current narrative which is negative: that Muslims are terrorists, violent and victims. We need a realistic narrative that tells the true story of who Muslims are – Muslims are diverse, are Latino, Black, Arab, are in all professions and work places, are responsible citizens.
The words of Ahmad have left an indelible impression on my mind and heart, "My parents taught me to value the richness of diversity; to respect all people and see each person as valuable and important. Where would I be if I had not had my parents as role models? Where would I be if as an English translator in Afghanistan I had not met men and women who mentored me in values that emphasize respect, inclusively and interdependence? I want to give back. I want to bring the education, the awareness, the resources I had to those drawn to terrorism so they can know another way.” These are the words of a 28 year-old who has seen and known violence and is choosing to address it nonviolently through education and awareness. The Forum and encounters with these bridge builders has left me more knowledgeable and committed.
Submitted by Carol De Angelo, SC, January 19, 2017