I recently joined a media firm for a two-month unpaid internship. I have been looking for a job for a while now, and I was very happy when I got a call back from them. My current goal is to have a career where I could gain paid experience while continuing my studies, but I was genuinely pleased with my internship. As a child, I used to pretend like I was a famous journalist and writer. So I started working at the firm with full vigor and passion. Though my manager asked me to write only two articles a week, I wrote four or five articles some days. The people I worked with were extremely satisfied with me, so much so that the firm’s manager himself texted me to let me know that I was doing very well. Due to my extroverted personality, we became friends very quickly. A few days later, he asked me if I was interested in working with him, not as an intern but as a full-time paid employee. I was over the moon. I thought I could finally earn some money for myself and help with my studies. I put in long hours every day and worked diligently to write good stories, however, what I didn’t realize was that he wanted me to be his puppet. No, not a sex puppet, don’t be mistaken, but a puppet that he can use as a voice to write his opinions and beliefs.
My manager wanted me to write about Islam echoing his biased believes that all Muslims are terrorists. Though I was intrigued by the subject, I was a little bit confused by the biased request. I asked my manager if he had ever met a genuine Muslim other than the ones portrayed in news or on television, and his answer was a resounding no, and he followed up by saying that he thinks that the Quran is a book for terrorists. When I asked if he had ever read the Quran, he replied, “Of course, I have read the Quran.” He sent me a Quran translation to prove that the Quran is about violence and death.
It is true that I don’t know what the Quran teaches because I have never read the Quran in my life, but I have read The Bible. While reading The Bible, I came across a phrase in a psalm that made me think the Bible was not good for my health. “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and smashes them against the rocks,” was the phrase. I was like WHAAAT.???? I was utterly devastated. I mean, come on, who on earth would seize their children and smash them against the rocks? So I asked my father, “What the heck is the Bible telling us to do?” Does God want to kill toddlers? My father asked me to calm down first. My father is a minister, and he explained the author’s meaning as well as the history behind the creation of the psalm. My point is sometimes what we read doesn’t have a clear meaning. We can’t draw any conclusions based on what we read or hear.
It was like when I listened to one of Justin Beiber song’s called “Yummy.” I loved the music and thought it was about delicious food, so I used to play it in front of my entire family while we ate dinner. When the yummy part of the song came, my uncle also sang along with it, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, in an Indian accent. However, sooner I found out yummy is about Justin Beiber having sex with his wife, Hailey Baldwin, I told myself, Oh English, you fooled me again! My poor uncle still murmurs those words in my house, and I didn’t dare to tell my uncle that the song is about sex.
So what I am trying to convey is when we read a religious book, it does not always make sense. A thing can be interpreted in a variety of ways. He does, however, believe that every Muslim poses a threat to others, which I disagree with due to the fact that I have Muslim friends. I’ve known my Muslim friends for a long time, while my manager is probably only familiar with the one he has seen on television. I personally know practicing Muslims. My manager has claimed that all Muslims, including my friend, are terrorists. He also claims that he knows, what the reality is, and he will stick to that. I wasn’t angry with him at the time, but I was sad for him and felt sorry for myself. “How on earth did I let myself work with this islamophobic?” I wondered. I know I’m immature, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone who is far more immature than me. He asked me if I had the courage to show him the actual proof that not all Muslims are terrorists. Otherwise, he said, he could provide evidence that every Muslim is evil, and I would have to accept that.
For the first time in my life, I was not ready to play a stupid game because I knew what he was going to send me, of course, some google translation when he type, “Show me the phrase from the Quran that proves Islam is about violence.” And the poor Quran itself shows some words that confirm Islam is about terrorism. No, I was not ready for that dumb game. For phobics, it makes no difference how much evidence we provide or how much we argue; they only see what they choose to see.
However, I told him that I base my facts based on the people around me. I grew up with them, studied with them and we shared the same food and dreams. They were the ones who helped me when I was in trouble. I can’t remember a single day when I wasn’t smiling. I clearly recall a day when my teacher asked me, “What is accounting?” and I had no idea what accountancy was, and my friends were also aware of that fact. However, with all my confidence, I started to answer the question like I knew what accountancy was, while my friends started making noises in the background to distract my teacher. It was a successful mission. Her eyes and ears were drawn to my friends, I began to lip-synch, and my teacher had no idea what the heck I was talking about. All she could hear was “this is called accountancy.” “Very good Betzy, sit down,” she said.
I was the only Christian in my class, but I was never left out. I enjoyed getting into mischief with my friends, even though we knew our teachers would beat us up.
I was losing patience when he said that my friends are also terrorists. I thought he was insane. He predicted that my friends would turn against me and harm me one day like other Islam. When he said that Muslims killed ordinary people for refusing to accept their ideology, I responded by saying that some Hindus kill others for not respecting cows. Many Indians were killed as a result of their consumption of beef.
But, to be honest, I hate the idea of slandering or hurting animals. The majority of animals are born solely for the purpose of becoming a human meal. I wish I could abstain from eating meat. But it is hard to resist the smell or taste of meat.
When I mentioned that many people have been attacked and killed because they eat cows, his response was, “You have Hinduphobia.”
His response made me laugh out loud. Because I ate beef with my Hindu and Muslim friends. I was the only Christian in my class, as I previously stated. I was surrounded by Hindu and Muslim friends. And I vividly recall a day when we all went out to lunch together. One of our friends wanted to eat Porotta and beef. As a result, we went out to eat. We were seven friends, and we called ourselves Red Chilies. But I’m not sure how we came up with that name.
The restaurant was a bit out of the way from my school. And we completely forgot about our lunchtime because we were so engrossed in the food. When we rushed into our school, we noticed that our teachers were waiting outside for late students. However, one of my friends was living just next to my school. So we ran into her house to figure out what we were going to do next. We couldn’t just leave home because 7 of our seats were empty and we had left our bag there. Some of my friends from the class called to inform us that the teacher hadn’t arrived yet. When I went back to check on my teacher, he was still standing outside in my school like a tree. So we decided to climb the wall. My friend’s house has a wall that leads to school, and we can sneak into our class through the back door without anyone noticing. But there was one problem: three of us, including myself, were quite short. So we borrowed a table from her house to help us climb over the wall. That was one of the adventures days ever had.
Despite my reputation as a troublemaker, my friends and teachers still adore me. And I cherish my school and my classmates, regardless of religion, skin color, or gender. They believed in me when I didn’t. They were there for me when no one was. Of course, we used to fight, tease, and prank each other, but nothing ever happened in our love. I haven’t seen them in years, but we still keep in touch with everyone almost every day.
So, if you dare to claim that all Muslims are the same, it is you who is at fault, not them. We only look for a story that we want to accept; we don’t consider the opposing viewpoint. Do you believe our late President APJ Abdul Kalam was a terrorist if you despise Muslims? It’s heartbreaking to think that people like this still exist.
When he couldn’t think of anything to say, he told me that Christians and Muslims alone had killed billions of people on the planet, and I am still blaming Hindus, and he also asked me to do some research. But I wasn’t blaming Hindus or any other religion. However, for some reason, it made me laugh, and I thought to myself, “Congratulations, I think you’ve found the world’s thinnest argument.” When I soon realized how dumb and stupid he was, I decided I didn’t want to work for him any longer. I was working there to get an experience certificate. But I didn’t get a certificate, and I squandered my two months.
Many people have lost their jobs as a result of their religious beliefs. When I spoke with a friend recently, she mentioned that her coworkers were harassing her. And when she said that, it broke my heart. I’ve known her for almost two decades. She is a lovely person on the inside and out. But they despise her because of the fact that she wears a hijab. Many times she thought about ending her life. But I always remind her how far she came. If we treat people according to their religion, remember that no one in this world will exist.
Despite the fact that I have never made a good decision in my life, I am pleased with the one I have made now. It is sad to think I do not have a job anymore. Hopefully, I can find something soon. I want to work with someone who respects everyone and every religion. After all, we are all human.