The inhumane actions on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 shook the entire nation, and the waves of this heartache could be felt worldwide. Terror has become weaponised by those who cannot accept our way of life and the collective goals that we all individually work towards.
I feel there is an important issue here that we all so often; and easily forget. British Muslims are a part of this British nation and community. Any pain or hurt inflicted on one member of society affects every one of us because we are all one. It is so important for our society and everyone in it to stand united and undivided against such blatant divisive tactics.
As a British Muslim woman I often fear that the backlash of such terrorist incidents will put me in a hugely vulnerable position, as a target for Islamophobic and racist attacks. I have been subject to many in the past, and it makes me feel very uncomfortable knowing that my choice of wearing the hijab makes me a very visible and obvious target. Of course those holding such ignorant views know nothing about my lifestyle and my beliefs. They don't know how hard I work day in and day out educating the future leaders of our society. They don't know how much of a hard-core feminist I am and how hard I fought to break all the cultural restraints that are often put on first generation ethnic minorities. They don't know about my obsession with cars and baking.
The bottom line is... they don't know me.
But in that instance where they decide to attack either verbally or physically they assume that they do know me. It is in that moment, however short it may be, that the terrorists win. They managed to infiltrate the mind and condition it to truly act upon this 'us versus them' paradigm.
It angers me so much when friends will ask me to take to Facebook or other social media platforms to 'condemn' terrorist attacks. Why? Why do I need to actively state that I condemn murder? Being Muslim is just one part of my identity; at the core of every individual is a heart that breathes just like every other human being on this planet. I condemn every act of violence on the basis of being a human being first and foremost. Just because I'm Muslim does not make me in any way responsible for barbarous attacks carried out in the name of my "religion". They've distorted my religion and fetishised it to fit their twisted agenda - that has nothing to do with me.
It is truly heart-warming to see that our society has been taking steps in the right direction as seen in various solidarity messages. Particularly, the hashtag trend #youaintMuslimbruv, because they cannot truly belong to any religion if they believe the killing of any individual can be justified in any possible way. Equally, the spirit of every Londoner stands tall and proud in that we are able to stay 'open for business'.
It is when we stop functioning through shutting down that we hand them a win.
It is when we allow them to create divisions in our harmonious and homogenous society that we hand them another win.
Above all, it is when we try and force those who belong with 'us' into the 'them' category, that the terrorists ultimately win.
This country belongs to all those who contribute to it in every possible way, because you need every single piece of a puzzle to make it whole. We must always keep true to our British roots...we have to keep calm and carry on.