On Charlie Hebdo

I got onto the BART train this morning right before the doors closed. The train was filled up and started moving before I even had a chance to sit down. I wondered why it was leaving earlier than usual but I chalked it up to the fact that it may have been a late train and the conductor was probably trying to get it back on schedule.

I sat down to read and I didn’t realize until a couple of stops later that I was actually going on the wrong train so I got off at a station along the route to transfer.

As I waited on the platform to catch my train, a man walked over to me: “Excuse me, are you Muslim?” he asked, with a French accent.

I responded affirmatively and he told me that he was from France and he talked about the events that had happened this morning. If you don’t know, there was a terrorist attack this morning at the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris called Charlie Hebdo. The attackers killed 12 people, were masked, and witnesses said they had shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire.

This man told me that in France, he has a lot of Muslim friends and he knows that Muslims aren’t like the terrorists that were responsible for the attacks. His eyes were tearing up as he told me that he and the French don’t hate Muslims and that he wanted to let Muslims know that. I understood that he didn’t want me to apologize or condemn the actions, he already knew that it had nothing to do with my beliefs. We talked for a couple of minutes and then we both went on our separate ways.

I was touched that he took the time out to talk to a complete stranger to give that message. It meant a lot to me, especially since something like “#KillAllMuslims” was trending on Twitter today. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and may justice be served, InshAllah.

Further Reading:
Check out Zaki Hasan’s article on Huffington Post – Thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo Attack and Haroon Moghul’s Interview with a Muslim on Religion Dispatches.

4 thoughts

  1. Wow, such a touching moment. That makes me better that there are people out there line that, especially since he was from France. While I’ve been able to make one person who was previously very antagonistic towards Islam and Muslims, after this horrible incident, I’ve felt much more depressed/down about the situation. Additionally, I keep thinking of the next generation; my cousin sister, the one in the Bay Area, will Jazak’Allahu be giving birth next month – makes me think what environment s(he) will be dealing with and of course, if I ever get there, my own children. It was already scary enough to think about becoming a parent, not to mention a Muslim one. But with each horrible, heinous event, my sadness in this context grows. Also I think the growing movement in Europe even just in the last week also frightens me. I have to say, I’m feeling fortunate I don’t live in Europe. Of course, it pains me nonetheless, as we are obligated to feel. Not just being Muslim, but on the human level. What kind of world will we be bringing children into?

    I pray that we can somehow start that long battle so that maybe our kids won’t have to deal with as much hostility and darkness as we are now.

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