Islamophobes Are Tweeting Deceptively Captioned Videos. Let's Make This Clip Go Viral Instead.

What if we tried to make the truth the talk of the town?

This week, we had a front row seat to how the ecosystem of viral, Islamaphobic videos can function. It started when Jayda Fransen, deputy leader at the nationalist organization Britain First, tweeted out a series of videos purporting to show "Muslims" doing terrible things.


Her tweets exploded online, getting high-profile retweets from far-right activists, thought leaders, and politicians. One such video, purporting to show a "Muslim migrant" beating up a "Dutch boy on crutches," as Fransen claimed in her tweet, was retweeted over 18,000 times. The video, though, shows no such thing. The Netherlands Embassy said as much when they tweeted that "the perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands."

In fact, no mention of the boy's religion was made in any police report or public record. Instead, the video simply shows one 16-year-old boy with a dark complexion violently attacking one 16-year-old boy with blonde hair and fair skin.

As a reporter and columnist who works at a positive journalism website, I'm often charged with finding the silver lining or positive side to a tragic story. What confounds me so much about the rising tide of Islamophobia in America and Europe and the fuel it receives from deceptively edited or decontextualized footage is that there are so many fantastic, well-sourced counterexamples we could and should be highlighting. It's not just that the kind of narrative that Fransen pushes is inaccurate — it's that the accurate, tolerant narrative has more than enough evidence to overwhelm the bigoted one. So why isn't it? Why are a few misleading videos drowning out a world's worth of confirmed examples of individual Muslims' kindness and generosity?

Take an incident that took place last year, in Anaheim, California. Muslim Los Angeles residents were celebrating Eid al-Fitr when a group of protesters began shouting hateful comments and showing off signs that read "Islam leads to hell." Despite that, though, an 18-year-old named Ibrahem Dalati decided to respond to their acrimony with song and dance.

"Let's keep the peace. Let's show them what we are," he says in a video taken at the scene.

Quickly, Dalati rallied those celebrating around him to sing and dance, which drowned out the sound of the hateful comments from the protesters.  It was a peaceful, loving response to another group's Islamophobia, and one that is emblematic of the kind of videos we should be sharing.

So let's do it. Let's share that video. Let's make people who respond to bigotry with love and kindness every bit as famous as the bigots they are responding to. It's time to change to shake up this narrative, and, as with many things these days, that could start with a simple tweet.


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