Sometimes I feel like a broken record.

Here I am yet again, tapping at my keyboard, writing another article about Islamophobia, trying to decide whether I think the world is getting better or worse.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I keep writing because every time I meet people with new perspectives I see things through a different lens.

Last month, Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement saying Michigan would temporarily stop accepting Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the attacks on Paris. Reading this, I looked up from the screen of my computer at my roommate — a Syrian refugee who came to Michigan almost two years ago. I met her last year when looking for someone to room with.

It didn’t take long for us to become family, and now I can’t imagine my life without her. The first thing I noticed about her was her hospitality. The day we moved in together, she was making herself lunch and she offered to make some for me as well, without even giving it a second thought. Her parents, though they speak only a few words of English, welcomed me as a part of their family. They take me out with them when they visit. Her mother worries about me the way my mother would, and asks to make sure I’m eating enough fruit. Her father spoils me the way my father does and gets me gifts when he goes out of town.

My response to Snyder and the 30 other governors who opposed allowing Syrian refugees into their states? As leaders of communities, you are acting in fear of people who are active and productive members of our society. To pause the acceptance of Syrian refugees sends an abhorrent message to not only our community, but also to those who are desperate for our help. This kind of reaction will not lead to the safety of the community, but will instead lead to a rise in Islamophobia.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but it feels like the world is just one big video game. We cannot get to the next level if we keep doing the same things.

After Snyder’s statement, I was happy to see people from different backgrounds aware and engaged in the conversation about it. I walked into one of my classes the day after to find some of my classmates, who were neither Middle Eastern nor Muslim, expressing frustration over Snyder’s decision. I saw The Michigan Daily editorial board as well as several columnists and students, both Muslim and non-Muslim, write articles condemning Snyder’s remarks.  

The killing of innocent people in Paris by ISIS, though horrific, was one of many tragedies that occurred that week. The ISIS attacks in Lebanon were less visible in the media and received less public empathy, though they happened one day before the Paris attacks. I had a friend tell me about how she couldn’t imagine how French students must have felt when they saw the news and didn’t know whether any of the victims were family. I have Lebanese friends who went through that same horror when attacks occurred in their hometowns.

Regardless of the Middle East’s reputation as an unstable region, human beings are suffering there. And people have a right to a secure life regardless of where they are. It’s disappointing to see friends and acquaintances who never talk about other countries suffering immediately stand behind the “Pray for Paris” movement. ISIS is an enemy to all innocent people, Muslim or non-Muslim. To all those people who changed their Instagram and Facebook profile pictures to “Pray for Paris,” what makes Parisians’ right to a secure life greater than the right of people in other regions in the world?

To clarify, I condemn the killing of innocent people in any region in any country in any part of the world. Oppression is not a competition. I pray for Paris and Lebanon and Syria and Iraq.

Blood is red no matter the color of a person’s skin, and the spilling of it should hold equal weight.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I am trying my hardest to break the cycle.

Rabab Jafri can be reached at

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