I know you’re afraid. I just didn’t think you were angry.
I know you’ve been lied to. You can put the guns down now; I’m not in any position to hurt you.
That’s right. I’m Arab, I’m Muslim. Some people might tell you I’m violent or that I hate you. All Muslims are psychopaths, yeah, I’ve heard that. But look a little closer. I have two arms, one head and I’m not holding a gun.
I’m going to assume it’s not my colour.
It’s – ok. It’s what I believe, you said that. But how do you know what that is?
It’s not what I believe that is the issue here, it’s what people told you I believe. No, I’m not picking apart what you’re saying, but, admit it: I’ve never told you what I believe.
You’re afraid. So let’s start with that. You shouldn’t have to be afraid. Let’s start with the assumption that this whole situation is wrong. How did we get into it?
My name is Abdul by the way. I’m 29. I have three kids. My wife is called Salma. I like fast cars and chess. Kinda weird that way.
You wanna know something?
I admire you.
I mean I think you’re totally wrong but I admire you.
I left my country because I hated what it was being turned into. Men who thought they were gods, treating women and children like waste, bombing villages. I couldn’t stay. I took my family. I walked away.
But you, you couldn’t leave. You think your country is being taken over. And you’re fighting for it, I know. I know that exact same look. I just didn’t think I’d ever see it this way round.
Some of those things you’re fighting for, I never could. You’d be killed if you said one word. I know you think there’s no freedom of speech anymore but, then again, here we are. I saw you on the marches. I know where you stand. And apparently people can tell you whatever they like about what I believe, so maybe there’s freedom of speech after all, right?
I actually think I agree with you on some stuff. Has it occurred to you that maybe a conservative Muslim and a conservative Atheist and a conservative Christian care about the exact same issues?
Your politicians, if they cared about what you care about, they’d be trying to unite us not divide us. Someone told you I was your enemy. Why? It’s not because they care about the same issues as us. It’s because they want you scared. You’re safe when you’re scared.
Let’s assume I’m wrong. In fact let’s assume that I hate you, that I’m brainwashed. Where would that come from? Obviously it can’t be God, I mean, God’s on your side right? So not God. It’s gotta be a man or the devil. And I’m not sure we’re meant to listen to them are we?
So what about you? Did God tell you to hate me? Does the word ‘Muslim’ appear anywhere in the bible, even one time? If it doesn’t, then where did you hear it? Who said it? Was it God, man or the devil? And if it wasn’t God then who are you following?
You probably think I’m lying to you. That at the very least I must think you’re insane. The truth is I don’t know if you are or not. I come from a country where the television, the newspapers, the radio are all controlled by one man. He’s the first thing you hear in the morning and the last thing you hear at night. He tells you he’s a kind man. He tells you that the Christians and the Jews want to kill you. He tells you again and again that he’s a good man. Some people believe it. Does that make them insane?
You know what I believe?
It doesn’t matter where you’re from; in their eyes, you’re a problem. My president tells me that you’re the problem. And your president tells you that I’m the problem. They can’t both be right but they can both be wrong. This is about power. They know that if we want to take that away from them all we have to do is agree.
We can talk, right now. You can tell me what you believe. I can tell you what I believe. We can talk. Or you can shoot me dead if you want to but don’t tell me it’s about freedom of speech.
You know it’s only a matter of time until someone joins us anyway. Someone else who’s afraid. Maybe next it’ll be the Atheists vs the Muslims or the Agnostics vs the Christians. Someone who sees what a dangerous situation this is and decides it’s time to stop it, deport it, kill it, anything but reason with it.
So you can pull up a chair. We can listen, we can talk.
Or you can pull the trigger.