As I watched Suzanne Barakat speak on national television, hours after the murder of her brother, Deah Barakat, sister-in-law Yusor Abu Salha and her sister Razan Abu Salha; I could not only sense her anguish but the desire she had to get across who they were. Undeniably these three people excelled in their lives, personally and in their service to humanity; which should be remembered and celebrated. However it did make me question, that when it comes to Muslims - Why does it feel there is a unsaid expectation to prove their value as well as their loyalty to the society they lived in?
Concern about the terrorists in our midst
It could be argued that terrorism by Muslims has unfortunately shaped who we are.
Every community is made of a whole host of people, from all walks of life. In the UK, we do have people amongst our two million midst who have committed crimes, just as every community does. But in no other community is it claimed that the values, practices of that community are somehow responsible for the illegal actions of a few. We have witnessed child sex abuse scandals in their many, across the UK - Does this now somehow mean everyone in the UK is susceptible to paedophilia? Of course not.
It is not difficult to see how this community-wide criminalisation has happened if one just studies the premise of Government anti-terror policy, and now legislation. The idea that the entire Muslim community should be watched for signs of adherence to Islam, which will then lead to potential criminal activity, underpins Prevent and the CTS Act. It would be expected that with such policies and matching rhetoric, the public would begin to see the Muslim community living by Islam as a problem, criminal community that should be ostracised.
In significant addition to this, we have seen politicians come in and out of the media on a whole host of Islamic issues which have no relationship to terrorism. Every community holds a variety of different practices, however it is only Muslims who have faced a prolonged period of intense, negative media scrutiny. Muslims are not the only community who observe gender segregation , dress differently or have faith schools. But it is Muslim 'difference' that has been endlessly highlighted, and in a manner which has posed it as a threat.
The real impact of the narrative about Muslims
The reason why this is so significant is because of what such a narrative about Muslims across the Western world, has led to. Suzanne Barakat isn't just having to explain the amazing legacy of her brother and his wife and sister-in-law, she is having to live with the effects of this narrative - Their cold blooded murder.
There was a Muslim school burnt to the ground in Houston this week. A Muslim teen killed in Kansas two months ago, a Muslim man killed in France last month, a Muslim woman attacked resulting in a broken arm in Australia four months ago; to a Muslim woman killed in Essex, UK last year. And one cannot forget the Muslim pregnant woman attacked in France and as a result miscarrying in mid 2013.
These are a handful of the most serious incidents from the last year or two. But we know the catalogue of anti-Muslim hate crime numbered over 700 from the period of 2013 to 2014 in the UK. In France, it spiked this January to an amount which was higher than the total number of anti-Muslim attacks in the previous year. And in the the US, anti-Muslim attacks are five times higher than pre 9/11.
There is evidently a correlation in spikes of violence against Muslims with the specific attacks by Muslims, such as 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo murders. However the question then arises, what drives violence as a response to crimes, when it comes to Muslims?
People commit crimes from a variety of communities and are seen as responsible for their own actions, whether this be school shootings or child abuse. But it is clear, when it comes to Muslims, the Muslim community at large is being made to suffer for the actions of a few. The difference of course, is in the way the attacks by Muslims are spoken about and reported. Randolph Linn in 2012, illustrated this by admitting to being 'riled up' by Fox News, leading him to burning down a mosque.
Waking up to this epidemic
We are faced with a thick, dark fog that has seeped into the psyche of average people across the West, driving them to carry out heinous crimes because of a growing hatred. It feels near insanity that a single community can be at the brunt of such a level of hatred and there is no national nor cross-continental debate about it. There is no official concern, no outcry. Nothing.
It is important to remember that we look back on a period of Western history wondering how hatred of one specific community was able to go from animosity, to mass extermination.
Unless we wake up to what is happening, it appears we are willing to pave that road again.