Tired of Being Demonized, Muslims on Twitter Apologize for Algebra, Coffee, and Soap
To counter prejudice, some followers of Islam have taken to Twitter with a new hashtag: #MuslimApologies.
Muslims this week began apologizing on social media for algebra (named after a book by mathematician Abu Jaf’ar Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi), shampoo (first brought to England by a Muslim merchant), “amazing architecture,” and other innovations made possible by members of the Islamic faith throughout history. The point? That Muslims, of whom there are about 1.6 billion, shouldn’t be blamed for the heinous crimes of a few.
#MuslimApologies first popped up on Twitter on Sept. 24, the same day President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, saying that it’s “time for the world—especially Muslim communities—to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of al Qaeda and ISIL.” He commended the #NotInMyName campaign, whose mission statement declares that “ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam.” (ISIL and ISIS are commonly used acronyms for the extremist group now calling itself the Islamic State.)
The new hashtag seeks to address a different issue: the notion that religion bears responsibility for extremist actions at all.
Among the wry quips were serious messages about racism and stereotypes. One user tweeted, “Sorry for being oppressed and called a terrorist all my life.”
The movement reflects a widespread problem. Since a huge spike following the attacks of 9/11, the FBI reports, hate crimes against Muslim Americans have leveled off only slightly. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of Americans believe that among other religions, Islam is more likely to encourage violence. A hashtag may not solve the issue, but putting the silliness of bigotry in the spotlight could help.
From funny to heartbreaking, here are some of the tweets:
Sorry for being oppressed and called a terrorist all my life. Sorry for saying racism still exists #muslimapologies— Munib Sajjad (@MunibSajjad) September 24, 2014
I apologise for encouraging Cat Stevens to metamorphose into a bearded man by the name of Yusuf Islam #MuslimApologies— Aina Khan (@ainakhan5) September 23, 2014
I'm sorry you tapped my phone and all you learned was that I was planning a potluck at the mosque on Friday #MuslimApologies— Maha Hilal (@mahmooha2013) September 25, 2014