What to Do If You Witness Islamophobia in Public

August 31st 2016

Laura Donovan

Islamophobia has been on the rise since last year's terrorist attacks in Paris. In response, a French artist has created a detailed comic on how to respond to anti-Islamic behavior in public.

A French Middle Eastern illustrator who goes by the name Maeril created French and English versions of the comic to increase the visibility of her message.

"I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes - that way one cannot say they 'didn’t know what to do,'" she wrote on Tumblr.

Maeril's advice is simple: don't pay any attention to the person attacking a Muslim in public, and engage the victim in conversation until the attacker goes away. If necessary, get the victim to a safe place:

"Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!" she wrote. "Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over - call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!"

Her post has been shared dozens of times on Tumblr:

Maeril Tumblr comic on Islamophobia

“I expected it to be shared, but not to this extent,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I also had hate messages. People asking me, ‘what do you do if you got a Muslim who wants to cut your throat with a machete?’ But it makes me want to do even more than what I already do.”

Following the Paris attacks, San Bernardino massacre, and the more recent Orlando night club shooting, Muslims all over the world have faced criticism and violence for their religion. When the Paris attacks took place, some people blamed Islam as a whole and did not take into account that extremists don't represent all Muslims:

Several weeks after the Orlando shooting this summer, a Muslim man was attacked outside the Fort Pierce Islamic Center in Florida, local Fox affiliate WPBF reported.

"For over two weeks, we have been emphasizing that the community from the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce needs to be offered security from the Sheriff's Office. Unfortunately, our requests were repeatedly ignored," Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, the Florida communications director for the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the news outlet. "Will someone have to be killed for the Sheriff to provide safety and security to this mosque?"

CAIR's website includes a pocket guide on confronting Islamophobia:

CAIR Islamophobia pocket guide

"When you encounter Islamophobia in your daily life, it is important to document it, report it and take action yourself," CAIR wrote.

Corey Saylor, CAIR's director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, told ATTN: over the phone that his organization appreciates the comic because it "shows that people are seeing the type of bias that Muslims are subjected to, and looking for ways to be part of the solution."

"The only thing I would add to the comic specifically is that security has to be first and foremost," he continued. "You just want to make sure everyone is safe beforehand. Hopefully people think of that, but sometimes they don't."

He said to be cautious of hecklers who react negatively to be ignored as well:

"When people get agitated [and] you're ignoring them, they can reach out and grab a hold of you or something like that. You just want to make sure that's not going to happen. Don't engage, but I would keep them in the corner of my eye."

[H/T BuzzFeed News]