Looking back: the shooting in Garland, Texas

As I was sitting in the library, I received a text from my friend who was beyond furious at what happened in Garland, Texas on Sunday, May 3rd. Before receiving the text I was unaware of the events that had occurred. She sent me the article from Dallas Morning News, so I read up on it.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative organized an event at which a contest was held to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad and the top winner would receive a prize of $10,000. Pamela Geller is the president of this organization and is well known for arguing “freedom of speech” as the excuse for the hatred she spreads against Islam. In response to the event, two gunmen drove by and decided to shoot the Center where the event was held.

My friend texted me in anger asking how they could do that when we ourselves avoid that?

How can they hold such an event without expecting a reaction? Everyone is entitled to have a reaction towards such an event but shooting people is NEVER okay. The event in itself was made to provoke such people, as the two gunmen, only to prove their point that Islam is a religion of terrorism. And so she tells me, “but if we stand up for our religion peacefully they will still call us terrorists.”

Regardless of what we do, we’ll be labelled terrorists because we’re Muslims, it’s nothing but a label given by uneducated people. The only way to move past this is to continue showing how Islam truly is. By educating people through our actions, by being mindful, by being peaceful, by being courteous, by lending a hand to a person in need, and so forth because that’s what my Islam taught me.

And so it’s important to know that you and I are a walking example of Islam, even if the person in front of you says hateful things, all they’re trying to do is get under your skin and anger you. And anger will change nothing. If you want change, prove them wrong by treating them better than they may deserve.

My friend then got frustrated with me and asked me how I could not find this insulting to our entire religion? Oh but I do, I find it absolutely abhorrent, but it doesn’t make me angry. It makes me sad and disappointed.

Pamela Geller will continue to call us savages and uncivilized, others will follow in those footsteps and call us terrorists and other horrid names and continue to hold such hate events, but does that necessarily define who I am? And the answer is, only if I let it.

Written by Nabila Shemies

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Nabila Shemies is a 24-year-old Egyptian-American born and raised in New York. She's majoring in accounting and minoring in business law. She enjoys writing and photography.