As I opened my lap-top yesterday evening and logged into my Twitter account, I noticed that the number one trending topic in the UK was the hashtag #ThatsWhyImMuslim. As is the norm these days, my first thought was “How bad has the hashtag been trolled by ignorant bigots”. When I visited the tag I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was filled with Muslims celebrating positive aspects of their faith, tweeting uplifting and empowering verses from the Quran and generally displaying pride in Islam. There was no sign of divisive or inflammatory sentiments towards other faiths at all as far as I could see. Here’s a small collection:
Unfortunately, as the popularity of the hashtag propelled it into the worldwide trending top ten, it caught the attention of the non-Muslim twittersphere. Some were confused and perplexed as to how a pro-Muslim hashtag could possibly be the top trending topic in Britain. It was only a matter of time before the consternation gave way to casual racism, and the usual stereotyping of Muslims and Islam that has become depressingly familiar. Here’s just a sample:
I wonder if a hashtag celebrating being Jewish, Black or Gay would attract such overt hatred? It’s possible, but only from a very extreme minority of particularly anti-social trolls. But, as can be seen from the screenshots above, anti-Muslim bigotry is considered acceptable to seemingly normal people of any age or gender, from unprotected accounts, using their own names and photographs. Clear evidence, if any more were needed, that Islamophobia is the only form of bigotry still socially acceptable to such a wide range of people in today’s society.