16 December 2015, Kenton School, Newcastle, UK
I want you to have a look at the picture behind me. What are your thoughts? Keep those thoughts in mind. Hopefully by the end, you'll alter them, or change them.
So if you all don't know, I am Muslim and I am proud.
But after the events that took place in Paris France on November 13th, there is a lot of negativity in the media about Islam.
So in google if you type in Muslim + Islam or Muslim + woman, these are some negative pictures that come up.
People think that Muslim women or Muslim girls have no rights, or have no freedom. But we do. Look at me for example. I'm Muslim. I'm a girl. But I don't wear a headscarf. I have the right and freedom to wear one, my Mum wants me to wear it, but she's given me the right and freedom of [ ] I feel comfortable enough.
So what is Islam and what do we actually believe in?
Islam is a beautiful religion, just like many others. It is a religion of peace and mercy. As a woman, I used the word [aslama malikem] every day of my life. It's a wish for the other person to blessed with peace. This is what it means to be Muslim.
In Islam, we live by the five pillars.
The first one, is that there should be one god.
The second one the ommitment to prayer
the third one, fasting in Ramadan,
The fourth one, charity and giving back,
The pilgrim to Mecca, which you must do at least once in your lifetime
In this picture, the small dots are actually people. They are all Muslim. They are there worshipping god. This is what Islam is actually about. Coming together as one.
In Islam, even a smile is charity.
But what is happening today. These are some negative headlines that come up online, and this is the latest one that came up this week. I want you to know that these headlines are actually false. None of them are actually true. And this upsets us becasue the people behind them are usually ISIS.
if you don't whoISIS is, it's a terrorist organisation, that cause nothing but harm and terror to the world, just like what happened in France. 129 lives were lost.
But Isis have one goal. They want countries like ours to reject Muslims. They'll be happy and ecstatic to hear, that since the events that took place in Paris, France, Muslims have already been threatened and attacked in the UK, America, Australia and all around the world.
This evil organisation have in their minds -- if they can get Muslims [to appear as] the enemy of the west, then Muslims in France, the UK, America and Australia will have nowhere to turn but to Isis.
So if you are someone with a Facebook account, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, or any form of social media, which I'm sure everyone here has, and you are throwing out masses of hate, you are helping Isis. You are supporting ISIS. This is what they want.
So think about it - do you want to be the person helping a terrorist organisation?
People think ISIS only kills non Muslims. But they don't. They also kill Muslims. Most of ISIS's victims are Muslims, like what's happening in Syria right now.
Therefore ISIS is Muslim and is not the face of Islam. In Islam we believe, whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if they've killed all of humanity. That's why all Muslims stand together against Islam.
'Therefore terrorism has no religion and terrorism is not the face of Islam
I have people coming to me at school, this week, and last week telling me that because I am a Muslim, I am a terrorist. And this is something I go through every day of my life. And it's become worse since what happened in France.
But how is this affecting Muslims around the world?
If you haven't heard, on November 15th, a man pushed a Muslim woman into an oncoming underground train, in London. Why? Because she was wearing a headscarf and she was a Muslim.
Imagine being that woman, and having to wake up every day and walk out your door, knowing you'll be attacked and threatened for doing what you believe.
People also have this idea that refugees and immigrants are stealing their jobs.
But they are not.
Take my dad as an example. He is a doctor. And he is Muslim. And he is successful. He saves lives every day. He could have saved one of your relatives.
People always think - that refugees from Syria, I've seen this on facebook, 'oh close the borders, they are ISIS, they are coming to destroy our country. '
As a matter of fact, ISIS took over their country, ISIS killed their loved ones. ISIS destroyed their homes.
So how would you feel if I was you? Sitting at home, bombs going off, people dying.
There's children, who are coming to the UK, with no families.
So how would you feel, if I was you, in my situation?
I have a seven-year-old sister. She came home from school last Monday, crying. When I asked why, she said to me, 'People are blaming me in school for the Paris attacks'. She said , "I don't want to go back'.
I have a brother in year seven, he got bullied last week. People were telling him, 'your religion is killing people.'
This is something I have to go through every day.
People link us to terrorism, but we are not terrorists. They have hijacked our religion and used it against us.
I was in Tesco's just last week. I walked in, the guy goes, 'these are the people we want out of our country. These are the people you don't want around.'
So imagine if that was you. Coming into my country and I'm treating you this way. How would you feel?
So what can we do about it?
We can learn about each other's religions and cultures. We can stop making assumptions. We can be fair to one another.
And remember, when you tell somebody you're a terrorist because of your religion - it's a hate crime. And you have to report it once you've viewed it.
My name is Isra Mohammed, I am a Muslim and I am not a terrorist.