Malek Merabet has something you should hear….

ster·e·o·type
ˈsterēəˌtīp/
noun
plural noun: stereotypes
  1. 1.
    a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
verb
3rd person present: stereotypes
  1. 1.
    view or represent as a stereotype.
    “the city is too easily stereotyped as an industrial wasteland”
    synonyms: typecast, pigeonhole, conventionalize, categorize, label, tag More

Our Country and World is reeling from situations, episodes and terrorism inflicted by individuals and groups .  As I write, the march in France decrying the terrorism against the Charlie Hebdu attacks and the Kosher grocery store in Paris is underway.  In the U.S. episodes between police and perpetrator/victim (depending on how you see it) are making national news and are frequent topics of discussion.

Ahmed Merabet’s (the police officer gunned down by the Charlie Hebdue terrorists) eulogy is worth reading on this topic and I want to share it here in case you did not see it.  This speech by Ahmed’s brother Malek, did not draw the television cameras as the 44 global leaders did, but probably should have.

Here is a translation of his brother’s speech, drawn from multiple sources.

Good morning all,

My brother was French, Algerian, and of the Muslim religion. He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the French police, and to defend the values of the [French] Republic: liberty, equality and fraternity.

Through his determination, he had just received his judicial police diploma and was shortly due to leave for work in the field. His colleagues describe him as a man of action who was passionate about his job.

“MADNESS HAS NEITHER COLOR NOR RELIGION”

Ahmed, a man of commitment, had the will to take care of his mother and his relatives following the death of his father 20 years ago. A pillar of the family, his responsibilities did not prevent him from being a caring son, a teasing brother, a generous uncle, and a loving companion.

Devastated by this barbaric act, we associate ourselves with the pain of the families of the victims.

I address myself now to all the racists, Islamophobes, and anti-Semites:

One must not confuse extremists with Muslims. Madness has neither color nor religion. I want to make another point: stop painting everybody with the same brush, stop burning mosques or synagogues. You are attacking people. It won’t bring back our dead, and it won’t appease our families.

Thank you.

(speech translation copied from Vox Media)

Upon reflecting on this, I think about my own religion and a recent case of a senior leader, Heather Cook, striking and killing a very popular cyclist, Thomas Palermo. Rallies have been ridden in his memory and the case has made our local and regional news.  She has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, being drunk and texting while driving.

No one has asked me to answer for her or asked me to speak on behalf of Episcopalians everywhere about her actions.  Is this indicative of a larger problem?  Yes.  Because I happen to be part of a religious tradition that isn’t seen in a stereotypical way (well, it is, but not in ways that impact my daily life and how people treat me).

I’ve worked with and been a part of the Episcopal Church for many years and I’ve known of numerous religious and lay people with drinking problems.  I’ve also known many who have extreme views and have left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican movement.  I attended church in Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago and was horrified at what I heard from the pulpit (blatant sexism and racism and unapologetic condemnation of various groups).  Thankfully, I know that these types of extreme views are not shared by the majority of Episcopalians.

There are many radical Christians who commit murder and hurt other groups in the name of Christianity.  I am not asked to answer for them or seen differently for what they do.

Why is this relevant?

Well, my friends who are Muslim ARE asked to answer for people within their tradition who do extreme things.  These friends are treated differently by their neighbors, community, colleagues because there is a new fear – stereotype – that is applied to members of their religious tradition.

How would I feel if everyone who knew I was Episcopalian thought I was an alcoholic, or that I’d killed people while driving drunk or texting?  Or that I am racist?  Or that I am sexist?  I know this is a pathetic example, but I know I would feel pretty bad and probably also angry.  I don’t even KNOW the Bishop who struck and killed a cyclist in my town.  I certainly don’t think I could answer for her – and wouldn’t want to.

On my Facebook page and in conversations, some of my friends are advocating all sorts of pretty radical responses to the French attacks – which lumps in the terrorist monsters with all people who are Muslim.

So, to them and to those who think this way, I bring to light Malek Merabet’s words and vow to do my small part in bring about a change to the stereotyping, Islamaphobic, and anti-semitic tide.

It stops with me.  Je suis Malek Merabet.

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