Having been lucky enough to live and travel to many destinations in my late teens and into my twenties, I am blessed to have friends all around the world, from all walks of life. I may not see all of them that often, but due to the power of social media, I am able to keep in touch with them and know what they have been doing, enjoying and seeing, by simply scrolling through my newsfeed each morning from the comfort of my bed.
Social media can truly be a force for good. It allows us to connect, to share, to act as one. However following the atrocities in Paris last week, I am becoming more and more disgusted by some of the belligerent and frankly ignorant posts I have seen on some of my friends’ newsfeeds about ‘Muslims’.
Having lived in the United Arab Emirates for a combined total of almost five years of my life, I have met and made many friends from all around the world who have come to call the UAE home. The UAE is truly a multi-cultural nation, and it sometimes amazes me how I can go out for a social event and be sat around a table with friends from the UAE, Jordan, India, America, Australia, Bahrain, Russia, Ireland, England, Egypt, Poland, Lebanon, the Philippines and more, and not even bat an eyelid that we are a ‘strange’ group.
The reason is because we are not restrained by our background or religion or skin colour. We are there because we are all equals. Because we are friends.
Watching things unfold following the attacks in Paris last week however, I have been feeling more and more protective towards some of my friends – my friends who just happen to be Muslim. This is because more than ever the world is being divided into two camps: 1) Non-Muslims 2) Muslims, and therefore in the eyes of many 1) Terrorists 2) Non-Terrorists.
It is not a division that should be made. In fact it is frankly ridiculous! But this is the state of the world, and to get my message across within this post, I am sadly going to have to do just that…divide my friends into Muslim and Non-Muslim. To me, you are all one, but I have a few messages that I’d like you to hear, so here we go…
To My Muslim Friends
You are some of the most wonderful, kind-hearted, funny, beautiful, caring and honest people I have ever met. I get to see you and enjoy my time with you in some capacity each day, whether that be at work, out socially, or just simply through social media. You enrich my life each time we meet. Whether it be learning about your culture, chatting about wedding plans, you coming over for cuddles with Zachy, or just simply having a daily moan session, as friends do! You and I are the same. We work and function and think on the same wavelength even though our background may be a little different.
I want you to know that no matter what these disgusting terrorists do to tarnish the name of your good religion, you will never change to me. I am blessed to know you and no matter where I am in the world, my door is always open to you.
To My Non-Muslim Friends
I know the majority of you are aware of what I just wrote to my Muslim friends above. You know it is not them to blame. They are not the psychopaths out to cause terror and disruption. But I know too that many of you have not had the chance to be ingrained in Muslim culture the way I have living in the UAE. For those of you who haven’t, please know this – Muslims are peaceful people. They are kind and loving and are hand on heart some of the best people I know. I look at my Muslim friends, and I just cannot understand where these terrorists are bred from. It just doesn’t add up…!
These terrorists may claim they are ‘Muslim’ – but they are not. Islam is a religion of peace, not war, and I see that every single day living here in the UAE. Please, I ask you, if you’re not aware of this or have not had the chance to be exposed to the real side of Islam, stop sharing those horrible posts on social media.
Not all Muslim’s are terrorists. Not all terrorists are Muslim. Please remember that. And equally, not all Arabs are Muslim, and not all Muslims are Arab. The world is not so black and white. Humanity is a mixed bunch and we need to remember that.
Finally, To All Of My Friends…
This is exactly what the terrorist’s want – division in the world, and a society of fear and hatred. Do not give them the satisfaction! Do not judge someone by their religion, what they wear, their cultural habits, what they look like, etc…
One thing I have learnt living in the UAE is that we’re all the same. We all love our families, our friends, we love going out and having a nice time, enjoying nice food, doing and seeing nice things. We’re social creatures – we love learning about new things, new people, new places, and we enjoy doing this together.
To all of my friends, when I view you as a whole, you are certainly a mixed, crazy bunch, and I love each and every one of you for this. How boring life would be without all of you. If we can all be respectful to one another, learn, enjoy each other’s company and stay united in a positive way, the world will stay a kinder place.
And for anyone that can’t do this, well, the term ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all’ has never rung so true.