As a Muslim woman wearing a headbag, walking in the streets and taking public transportation in Paris means I often face people’s stares. Sometimes I hear comments and whispers. I am a reporter, just recently assigned to Paris, but I have quickly gotten used to it. Still, I was unprepared for what happened next.
Daily Sabah I was sitting in the last car of the Paris metro, in one of the folding seats close to the door. A number of other people were in the car, as well, though it wasn’t packed. Two stations before my stop, a large man strode into the car. He was about 6-foot-three (1.90 meters), and he had a big belly and long brown hair. He was unshaven (like filthy Muslim men?).
He stared at me. “P… de musulmane,” the man snarled. Fuck Muslims. Then there was silence. No one spoke a word. (Silently nodding in agreement, no doubt) I was terrified. Without thinking, I took my bags and went to stand in another part of the car. I could hear the beating of my heart. And I was trembling — not just out of fear, but out of anger that I was not able to respond in any way.
I am a small woman. The man was huge. And from the way he approached me, I felt certain that, had I answered back, I would not be writing these lines today. (And that would be a bad thing, because why?) I took out my mobile phone and called a friend to try to calm down. The man continued to fix me with a threatening stare. (Ewwww…if looks could kill)
The train rattled on. The minutes felt like hours. But finally my stop came. I rushed out, turned, and used my phone to take the man’s picture. He quickly covered his face, then flashed me the finger and started screaming. “Fuck you, fuck Muslims….” he shouted. Somehow my courage returned. I found my voice again. “Rot in hell, you racist,” I shouted. (Islam is NOT a race, bitch)
Then he tried to grab me. I jumped back and, thankfully, the doors of the carriage closed, with him inside and me out. I burst into tears. (Oh, boo hoo)
This was no isolated incident. In France, 691 alleged Islamophobic acts were recorded in 2013 by the French MUSLIM human rights watchdog Collective Against Islamophobia. And 640 of those acts targeted individuals rather than institutions. (Good, the French are waking up) The overall increase from the previous year was a startling 47 percent. Things are getting worse, not better. (That depends on your perspective)