This week I have another personal story to share. It’s a retelling of Aysha’s Islamophobic experience. She’s in her twenties and this incident occurred in south-west Sydney. Although born here, her roots are in Lebanon and she wears the scarf as testament to the strength of her faith.
One day while standing in the queue for her local ATM she was approached by a lady who immediately started yelling at her. Her abusive language included asking whether Aysha wanted her head chopped off and whether she even knew what her people were doing in the Middle East. Aysha didn’t respond, instead choosing to ignore the attacker and hide her emotions. Although this was in the middle of a busy street, no other person attempted to engage with the perpetrator but one woman in the queue engaged Aysha in mundane conversation in the clear hopes of distracting her from what was happening. After some time the perpetrator left, still continuing the abuse while walking away. Aysha decided to report the incident to the police asking them to ensure it was categorised as an Islamophobic incident. However, this was not followed up despite their assurances while she was reporting. Aysha realised how intimidating and dangerous her local area had become to her, somewhere she had lived all her life.
“Up until that time, I could confidently walk around my neighbourhood, it was home and I felt it was simply not OK to make me feel so unsafe in the place that I grew up in.”
Again, Aysha’s story is one of hundreds. Islamophobic incidents can strike anywhere at anytime and luckily for this one Aysha had someone willing to intervene even if it was in a small way. In any Islamophobic incident, reporting it to the police and asking them to categorise it as Islamophobic, you should always take additional measures. Reporting an incident to the Islamophobia Register is very important! In addition to providing tailored resources to deal with the problem, the Islamophobia Register will use the data as research to push for reform and make sure it never happens again.