How to intervene if you witness Islamophobic harassment

Originally published at:


This would apply to any kind of harassment.


It grieves me this is necessary in my country.


How to intervene when you witness Islamophobic harassment.

It saddens me that I felt that fix was necessary.


We use a similar approach when our three year old started bullying kids on the playground. Negative attention is still attention!

I really wish there was a last step where you make eye contact with the harasser and blow a raspberry, though.


coming to say this as well.


As a white male I’m always aware that I too often wear the face of an aggressor. I’d like to open the discussion here a little wider and ask what I can do be recognized as safe. I hate to have to ask this but the last thing I want to do is add to the fear of someone under attack. Perhaps it doesn’t matter and I’m overly concerned. I like the approach of a distracting and safe topic that reduces the aggressor to the role of a fart…unpleasant but rapidly diminishing in impact.


[quote=“iquitos46, post:12, topic:89214, full:true”]
I’d like to open the discussion here a little wider and ask what I can do be recognized as safe.[/quote]

Here you go:

Based on this wartime protest in occupied Norway.


Listen. Don’t get defensive when you’re not immediately accepted as an ally. Listen some more. Don’t get defensive when talk turns to large scale structures of misogyny and racism that you’re probably not personal responsible for, but that does benefit you. Listen even more. Volunteer in some way that helps someone who doesn’t look like you. And listen yet again.


Oh come on… everyone knows that Muslims are the REAL problem, women are the REAL sexists, blacks are the REAL racists, Jews are the REAL oppressors, LBGQT people are the REAL bigots, etc, etc… there is no one more oppressed in our modern world than white, christian, straight, cis-gendered, conservative MEN… Everyone knows that. /s


I try to stay open and I recognize that I may well be an easy and necessary target at times…I’m OK with that because I’ve seen it before. My biggest concern is that I might add to the fear and concern of someone who is already under attack by people who look like me. I guess my question is how do I get past the face I wear?


This is very well-intentioned, but notice that at no point in this “how-to” guide are you encouraged to try to figure out how the targeted person wants to handle the situation.

It’s entirely possible that someone targeted in this way doesn’t want to just “pretend it isn’t happening”. They might want to answer back, but are unsure if it’s safe. They might want to shout down and shame the bigot, or even intimidate them to dissuade that behavior in general, but need to know that others would join them. Or, as the graphic assumes, they might want to just avoid and ignore the bigot.

Let’s not make that decision for people though. You want to be an ally, not be patronizing.


I wish we could amend that to say “Act like a decent human being who shares the world with a lot of people and is happy to so”


Well, honestly, you can’t. None of us can. All you can do is to be as open as possible and listen as much as you can. You can call out sexism, racism, islamophobia, etc, when you see it, whether that is in public, or around your friends who all look like you and use inappropriate language. You can do your best to make people feel comfortable in your presence and try to be understanding when they aren’t. The sad fact is that none of us can ever fully get past our faces shaping how others will feel about it. Understanding that means knowing that when people see me, their first thought might be about how I’m ONLY a woman, in much the same way that someone you mean no harm to might see you as a threat.

The only advice I can give you is to tell you to follow the other person’s lead in stuff like this and LISTEN without reservation or without any intention of telling them anything. I can’t tell you how much it means to just be listened to sometimes.


Thanks for the tip regarding the origin of the paperclip/safety pin idea.

  • Step back. Stay very far out of what anyone might consider their personal space, unless and until they tell you otherwise;

  • If someone looks like they’re fearful or concerned, acknowledge that. “I know I’m probably not who you want to be near right now. Would it help if I moved over there, or stepped out of the conversation entirely?”;

  • Pay careful attention to how much you are speaking versus other people (hint: shoot for 1/4 or less of anyone else in the group, because that way even when you miss the mark you’ll still be doing well);

  • Show by doing…and doing…and doing. Prove that you’re serious and in it for the long haul.


so we start doing this here in US.


And, @iquitos46, to add to all that, let me reiterate, LISTEN.


Or possibly shot dead by the police upon their arrival.

Not every solution should end with a threat of violence, Cede.


I think stuff like this is great, but it’s not enough to just signal one’s intent. One has to actually listen, too.