Imagine you're on the bus or maybe out walking in the park, when you see someone bothering a Muslim woman nearby. What do you do?

Marie-Shirine Yener, a French artist and activist who also goes by the name Maeril, has some ideas.

"I have witnessed, during the last months and years, the number of hate-motivated actions against Muslims increase rapidly," said Maeril, who is of mixed Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian descent, in an interview with The Independent. "I felt like I had to try to do something with what I have, and that is drawing and writing."


Maeril created a how-to guide to help people stand up against anti-Muslim sentiments, which have been on the rise since the attack in Paris.

Her rules also apply to harassment against other marginalized people, too: Muslims, Sikh, or Indians, and any people of color who are targeted as a "terrorists."

"The recent burkini bans crystallized Islamophobic hate even more and I felt like I really had to try and do something about it," Maeril told Mic. "Some people don't intervene when they witness harassment, because they have no idea what to do. I wanted to change by offering clear and safe steps for the sake of the person harassed."

Here are her suggestions:

All images by Maeril/Tumblr. Used with permission.

  1. Engage conversation. Go to them, sit beside them, and say hello. Try to appear calm, collected, and welcoming. IGNORE THE ATTACKER.

2. Pick a random subject and start discussing it. It can be anything: a movie you liked, the weather, saying you like something they wear and asking where they got it...

3. Keep building the safe space. Keep eye contact with them and don't acknowledge the attacker's presence. The absence of response will push them to leave the area shortly.

4. Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves and escort them to a safe place if necessary. Bring them to a neutral area where they can recollect themselves; respect their wishes if they tell you they're OK and just want to go.

With Islamophobia on the rise once more in America, it's even more important for us to turn our words into action, to build solidarity with our Muslim neighbors.

According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States increased by nearly 67% in 2015 compared to 2014 — the worst it's been since right after the 9/11 attacks. Hundreds more crimes were reported in the days immediately following the 2016 presidential election too, not unlike what happened in the United Kingdom after their vote to leave the European Union.

We've seen the hate laid bare now in ways we never imagined. So, for me, I'm hoping to make it clear that I won't stand for that kind of bigotry or discrimination against my fellow Americans.

But it's up to all of us, as individuals, to take action against hate wherever we see it. Only then can we can actually come together to build stronger, safer communities.

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