For those who aren’t aware, IAM stands for Islamophobia Awareness Month, which we will be commemorating this November! This is the first and biggest city-wide campaign in Bristol to stand against Islamophobia; hence IAMBristol. This name also means I am Bristol - this city is mine, as a Muslim, as much as it is yours. A city for people to live together in peace without the company of bigotry and hatred. The campaign involves students at the University of Bristol, those at UWE, organisations such as MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) and the city of Bristol and their community initiatives, such as BMCS (Bristol Muslim Cultural Society) and SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality).
The BME Network and the Islamic Society are leading the campaign to stamp out Islamophobia here at Bristol SU. We’re not here to make you like Islam or agree with our religion - you’re not getting converted, don’t worry. Islamophobia is so much more than just religious hatred or prejudicial comments like ‘how awful that your religion oppresses women’ or ‘why does the Qur’an encourage violence?’ Have these people read and studied the Qur’an? No. Is IAM about reading and studying the Qur’an? No. These ignorant comments, as annoying as they are, are part of a bigger institutionalised problem of discrimination, based on religion, which is racialised. If the problem ended with ignorant comments and questions, Islamophobia would be like a first-year exam- though it still hurts, it doesn’t amount to much.
However, when you have differential treatment of people perceived as Muslims on a mass scale, policies calling for the racial profiling of Muslims, the media demonising Muslims every day, you have a bigger problem that has very tangible effects. It can do as much as curtail your freedom of expression and thought to hold you back in the workplace and effect your employment opportunities. Being Muslim, this is obviously something I feel passionately about. But, being human, the dehumanisation of a group of people is something we should all feel passionately about.
And thus, I call on you to join us in using our student voice to stand with the oppressed, on the right side of history, against Islamophobia. To that, I raise my non-alcoholic-beverage-filled glass. Cheers.
Almas Talib, BME Network
Wednesday 15 November: Reporting and resilience workshop
Wednesday 22 November: NUS Students not suspects
Thursday 23 November: What is Islamophobia: the UK counter-terrorism matrix
Saturday 25 November: Islamophobia Conference
Tuesday 28 November: Freesia (2017) - Film screening
Wednesday 29 November: What is Prevent?