22 June 2017 / Day 27
Pray for Muslim Youth in Europe
A bomb goes off in Paris and ISIS claims responsibility. For conservatively dressed Muslims across Europe once again it will mean stares, taunts, abuse on social media and occasionally worse.
Yasmin, the 15-year-old Muslim daughter of a friend wrote this poem expressing what that feels like. It makes me weep: the pressure of a thousand stares in the public space and a media that seems committed to demonizing them has scarred young people like her and reaps sad consequences.
Many young people are resilient enough, and with strong family support the impact rolls away. Some become angry, expressing it just as many teenagers of all cultures might. A few – and it is only a few – won’t be so lucky. They become vulnerable to the message of extremism and increasingly drawn down that path. As they are detached from their family there will be despairing parents, struggling to make sense of it all. And as if that isn’t bad enough, the finger of suspicion may rest on them as well as their prodigals. They may be unwelcome in the mosque, questioned at school, repeatedly questioned by police.
Yasmin is lucky. Her parents understand. They support their daughter, helping her understand and encouraging her to let it go. But that is also her mother’s job – Farzana works with victims of hate crimes, people wrongly identified as extremists, young people angry at the discrimination, and helps them process their experience. Rather than allowing them to become alienated, isolated, potential candidates to be groomed into extremism, she works to draw them back in to the mainstream.
I asked Farzana how Christians could pray for victims of hate crime, for the alienated, and families impacted by members on the journey to being lost to extremism. Her answer was immediate, “What would Jesus do? Don’t blindly condemn. Reach out in love and acceptance. I read the other day that Jesus came for us in our darkest hour. Ask how would He come for these?”
How to Pray
- Pray for teenagers like Yasmin who must navigate difficult years in the spotlight of suspicion.
- Pray for the work of people like Farzana, who help prevent young people being lost to extremist groups.
- Pray for families who have lost their sons and daughters to terrorism and for those who live with the threat of hate crime.