The Chinese government has forced ten millions of its population under quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus and protect its citizens. Meanwhile, for Uighur Muslims locked up in “re-education” camps, the pain is getting even worse.
Not only is the virus spreading even faster in camps—due to dire conditions and lacking medical resources—but according to reports, the authorities are now forcing Uighurs to work in factories.
“Gen-Z are the most resilient generation to speak truth to power”, says 21-year-old Jordanian-American Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of Muslim, an online safe space for the young Muslim community worldwide. Having launched an Instagram filter earlier this month in collaboration with Bahman Hayat (who created the viral Haram and Halal filters) in solidarity for the Uighur community, he hopes he can mobilise his online community to raise awareness for Uighurs.
Launched in February 2019 and already harnessing almost 100k followers, Muslim’s primary mission is to challenge the lack of diverse and genuine representation of young Muslims. “After attempting to find and join different Muslim communities to call my own, it occurred to me that there are many Muslims online that share the same feeling of not belonging, and who were seeking a space of their own”, continues Al-Khatahtbeh.
And his motto is simple and straightforward: “let’s tell it how it is”. Having created a platform “for us, by us”, it is only natural that Al-Khatahtbeh and his online safe space is there to support any Muslim, regardless of their background, race, ethnicity or sexuality.
The platform’s content includes light-hearted memes, viral TikTok videos and any useful breaking news and information about Muslims in the world, exploring topics as diverse as representation and gender politics to Muslims’ lesser known traditions and everyday life customs. But when necessary, Al-Khatahtbeh uses the Instagram platform to help political and humanitarian activism, hoping to make a change both online and off.
Last September, they created a viral illustration for their #CloseTheCamps campaign, standing in solidarity with China’s Uighurs. Now, in a bid to continue raising awareness about the community held in camps, the platform just dropped filters.
It’s true we live in particularly uncertain and stressful times. Although this might (understandably) bring about a feeling of inertia, it’s important we keep in our hearts those who suffer in silence today and everyday. It’s time for a shameless selfie.