In my recent travels to France, I had a particularly impactful experience, briefly making the acquaintance of a young presumably Muslim Man. We crossed glances at Gatwick airport on the bus heading to our plane. His face bore an expression mixed of anguish, pain, disenfranchisement, and rage. I offered a warmish gaze crossed of understanding and what I would hope to be read as empathy. He softened. I imagine he was distressed by the countless travelers nervously wondering if he were a terrorist, sent to blow up the plane and ruin their sunny holiday. Shameful.
When we arrived in Montpellier, I was having difficulty understanding the bus driver’s southern French accent. From behind me, I heard the most gentle voice of an intercessor saying “he’s asking if you would also like a ticket for the tram”. It was, of course, this gentleman. He was so kind, so gentle and full of love. To know that that same sternly affixed gaze belonged to this sweet soul belied every preconception imaginable.
Upon exiting the bus he again appeared, offering information about the local area and how to reach my hotel. He so appreciated simply being looked at as a human being that he wanted to show his appreciation in whatever way he could. You can faintly see him in the distance of this photograph, in the blue shirt, just behind the cyclists.
I have met a number of Muslim people just like him. I have never been called a “nigger” by a Muslim and I have never been bullied by one as I have been by many other people of colour. In my experience, Muslim’s are beautiful, God fearing, family loving people. Share a kind glance with someone whom you feel might be Muslim and see the beauty of a culture with which you have little experience.