June 5th, 2013
03:44 PM ET
Opinion by Melody Moezzi, Special to CNN
(CNN) – I wasn’t surprised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent statement about a “problem within Islam.”
It's not as though I've never heard anything like it before. I hear it all the time.
Still, his words – in response to a recent attack in London that left a British soldier dead – made me wonder: How might the public have reacted in a different context, had Blair replaced the word “Islam” with “Christianity” or “Judaism”?
I’m guessing not well.
But Muslims are used to having their faith openly denigrated by public officials.
We’re used to people failing to distinguish between “Islam” and “a few Muslims.” And we’re used to being called terrorists despite the fact that the vast majority of terrorist acts on American and European soil have been carried out by non-Muslims.
But being accustomed to abuse doesn’t mean we bruise less. If anything, being beaten repeatedly in the same spot makes each successive blow all the more painful.
I’ve written many reasoned commentaries in defense of Islam, Muslims and Muslim women in particular. This isn’t one.
Today, I’m going to do something different. I’m not going to cite relevant verses from the Quran. I’m not going to quote scholars. I’m not going on the defensive.
Today, I’m tired. So tired that I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. Not because I seek pity or sympathy, but because I think people should understand. Because maybe if they really understood, they’d stop.
Today, I’m going to tell you what it feels like to live with hate and hostility directed at you on a daily basis.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to turn on the news and hear people repeatedly call your faith hateful and violent.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be vilified any time a man named Mohammed commits a crime.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to wait at a subway station next to an advertisement calling you a barbarian.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to find a death threat in your inbox.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to know that the police are infiltrating your places of worship, finding nothing and still targeting you.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be told that you can’t be a feminist and that so many of your gentlest brothers are misogynists, criminals or worse.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to see your people being slaughtered in the hundreds of thousands by state-sponsored terrorists, only to be called terrorists themselves for the crimes of a handful among them.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to have your own people call you a heretic when you’re fighting to defend their rights, while others call you a heretic for doing so.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be told to go back to your country when you’re in your country.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be asked if you walk 10 spaces behind your husband or if he beats you or if he has other wives.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to have people assume you hate them when you don’t.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be expected to know why a stranger committed a crime because he claims to share your religion.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be required to apologize for something you didn’t do.
I’m going to tell you what it feels like to be told that you don’t belong when you know there’s no place you belong more.
Editor's note: Melody Moezzi is a writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author. Her book, "Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life," will be published in August.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Melody Moezzi.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.