Muslims using social media to ‘spark a social movement’

by Hani Khan



In September 2014, a community organization in East London, the Active Change Foundation, began a campaign built around the Twitter hashtag #notinmyname, which was created to denounce the beheading of the British aid worker David Haines and other brutal acts committed by the radical group Islamic State. The hashtag has been tweeted tens of thousands of times, and a Youtube video promoting the campaign has more than 325,000 views.

Fake apologies

Meanwhile, the hashtag #MuslimApologies has been used to tweet fake apologies for advances by Muslims whether it’s in medicine, literature or technology or for inventions such as the guitar, coffee or even the toothbrush. Most of the tweets are sarcastic and poking fun at such advances in order to combat misperceptions of Islam. One user tweeted “I’m sorry for inventing surgery, coffee, universities, algebra, hospitals, toothbrushes, vaccinations, numbers, & the sort #MuslimApologies” while another expressed their frustration at the way Islam is seen by others “Sorry for being oppressed and called a terrorist all my life. Sorry for saying racism still exists #muslimapologies.”

Scroll down to listen to podcast interview with Zahra Billoo from the Council on American Islamic Relations

Not just about hashtags

Social media isn’t just about creating hashtags, it’s about sparking a social movement. In a CBS News interview conducted by ConnectSafely co-director, Larry Magid (scroll down to listen to podcast), Zahra Billoo from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) talks a bit about how activists are using social media to encourage youth to engage in constructive protests

“There were many vigils that if you get a 100 people to show up with candles to say that we condemn the violence in Pakistan, we condemn the violence in Paris but then using Twitter or Facebook or Youtube to get that out to many more people is so critical. That’s how we exemplify the voices. “

“Unless you can get a twitter hashtag viral, you’re only speaking to the people in the hashtag. So you have to join other conversations, more broader conversations that aren’t even related to these issues because so much of this is about misunderstandings or a lack of interpersonal relationships.”

As we can all agree, these acts of violence are horrible but we should also agree that blaming an entire religion for the acts of sick-minded individuals. Muslims are tired of all the hate-filled propaganda on social media and they are using these platforms to dispel any misconceptions and show that these groups are no representatives of our faith.

Whether it be Charlie Hebdo, ISIS or the attacks in Australia, the larger Muslim community is constantly asked to condemn violent acts committed by unrelated extremists from all over the world. And after each situation, a stream of hashtags emerge, whether it’s #Notinmyname, #NotallMuslims, #ModerateMuslims or even #MuslimApologies to normalize or even lighten the stigma that comes from extremists using their faith as an excuse to kill.