Stay Away From People

Rajna Begum, 19, London

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Stay away from people. Those were the 4 words that I heard my dad say as the front door shut behind me.

Stay away from people. Those were the words he chose because he gave up on humanity.

Stay away from people because wearing a hijab, an abaya or having a beard makes the world unsafe for you. Oh wait, is it not the Muslims who are the danger to society?

Guess what, just because we're Muslim and follow Islam doesn't mean we're terrorists.

Not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslim.

As a Muslim I can say that those who fight with IS and claim to be fighting in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they're Islamist extremists.

Now, I know the media has started to differentiate between Muslims and Islamist extremists but you still haven't got the message. Out of all the things you can hold on to from the media you hold on to the words Muslim and terrorist and put them together.

Terrorist: A person who uses violence and intimidation to achieve a goal.

To terrorise: To keep in the state of fear by making it seem likely that they'll be attacked.

We all know that feeling of terror, of fear. When your heart pounds, as your limbs tremble and your mind races thinking of the worst possibilities. It's not a nice feeling, is it?

Well that's how we feel as we walk the streets and you give us a look or make a statement that makes it clear that you think just because we're Muslim we're terrorists. But there is a difference.

We don't wear the hijab, dress modestly or have a beard to strike fear into you.

See after 9/11 when the media said that Muslims were terrorists the world listened. When we the Muslims say that there's a difference between the followers of Islam and Islamist extremists it seems to fall on deaf ears. The majority shouldn't live in fear because you judge us based on the actions of the minority who claim to follow the religion, but really hold a perverted view of it. We must learn from history, from our mistakes, right?

So it's time to take a second. Ask yourself, who's the enemy? Is the bearded man the enemy? Is the women covering herself in modesty the enemy? Am I the enemy?

In this case terrorism is the enemy.

Stay away from people? Sorry dad, I know you're afraid of what tomorrow will bring and are trying to protect me but tomorrow shouldn't bring the same fear as was felt yesterday.

Tomorrow we shouldn't still be turning against each other, we must turn to each other and must come together to turn against terrorism.

Rajna is a member of our Young Leaders programme. The Almeida Young Leaders is a scheme giving young people with something vital to say the tools and platform to do so. Each young leader has been mentored by a writer and director to develop their ideas, structuring a speech and skills in public speaking.