Someone Made A Guide For What To Do When You See Islamophobia And It’s Perfect

Its so sad we live in a world where these things are still an issue, but so relieved that there are good people out there who think like the creator of this to share positive actions

This bystander’s guide to Islamophobic harassment was created by a young illustrator and filmmaker who works in Paris and goes by Maeril.

She made versions in both French and English.

This bystander’s guide to Islamophobic harassment was created by a young illustrator and filmmaker who works in Paris and goes by Maeril. She made versions in both French and English.

Below the guide, Maeril wrote that this technique works for any kind of harassment in a public space, but she was specifically focusing on the Islamophobia she’s witnessed in Paris.

This is an illustrated guide I made as part of my co-admining work at The Middle Eastern Feminist on Facebook! It will be published there shortly.

The technique that is displayed here is a genuine one used in psychology — I forgot the name and couldn’t find it again so if you know about it, feel free to tell me!

Some could say: “Yes but you can use that technique for instances of harassment other than Islamophobic attacks!”, and my reply is: Sure! Please do so, it also works for other “types” of harassment of a lone person in a public space!!

However I’m focusing on protecting Muslims here, as they have been very specific targets lately, and as a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes – that way one cannot say they “didn’t know what to do”!

I’d like to insist on two things:

1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!

2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over — call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!

Let’s break down Maeril’s strategy, shall we? The first step is to engage the victim in conversation, ignoring the aggressor.

Let's break down Maeril's strategy, shall we? The first step is to engage the victim in conversation, ignoring the aggressor.

Maeril suggests attempting small talk about anything, just so long as you’re making the person being harassed feel safe.

Maeril suggests attempting small talk about anything, just so long as you're making the person being harassed feel safe.

And then just keep going until the aggressor completely runs out of steam.

And then just keep going until the aggressor completely runs out of steam.

And lastly, if things really haven’t calmed down, try to bring the person being harassed to a safe space.

And lastly, if things really haven't calmed down, try to bring the person being harassed to a safe space.

The comic has been shared thousands of times on Tumblr. It currently has over 50,000 notes and the comments are great.

“I based the comic on the idea of non-complementary behavior,” Maeril told BuzzFeed News.

Non-complementary behavior is a psychological concept where you adopt the opposite conduct of another person’s. For instance, if someone is being aggressive toward another person, you should adopt a very warm behavior to hopefully defuse the situation.

Maeril said the comments have mostly been great, but of course, with something like this, there has been some negative feedback.

“I expected it to be shared, but not to this extent,” she said. “I also had hate messages. People asking me, ‘What do you do if you got a Muslim who wants to cut your throat with a machete?’ But it makes me want to do even more than what I already do.”

Credits: Buzzfeed



  1. JPK says:

    Another racist article that generalizes white men to be bad for society.

    1. Ulricii says:

      The article doesn’t generalize about white men, or men of any color for that matter. It isn’t even specifically about men. It’s about defusing an aggressive individual of either sex. It’s a text drawn with pictures to illustrate, so it has to use some gender and color–and age, and clothing, etc.etc.–to tell the story it wants to convey. Please read it again and see if you don’t agree.

    2. Dean says:

      Aww! Are your poor widdle feewings hurt? Too goddamned bad.

    3. meninistxoxo says:

      u do realise that no where in this article white men were mentioned?
      the drawing of the man does show light skin and dark brown hair but middle eastern people, chinese people, koreans, latinx etc all have light skin and can have dark brown hair?
      but wow u were SOOO sensitive to actually miraculously read the author’s mind and act all defensive about white men being called out.

      i love white men

      1. Not You Clearly says:

        If feminists believe that a children’s book that has “p for policeman” written in it tells children that only men should be on the police force, then this comic says that only men are racist. And the fact that most people say “I can’t be racist, I’m black” says that only white people can be racist. Put two and two together and its obvious that the comic author drew a white male.

        1. Al says:

          Not actually a fair assessment since children are lead to infer things at their knowledge level, where as adults like the kind I assume you to be are supposed to be level headed individuals who are supposed to things in a more mature light rather than throw a little pissy fit because he thinks he is being attacked. I my self am also a straight white mail who found no offense aimed toward me, go fucking figure.

    4. Saber says:

      Your racist though

    5. DLC says:

      OH, But, it’s NOT Racist when Media and Whites categorize Black Men as THUGS?

      Go ahead, give a racist remark if you want.

      But, the TRUTH is while you were typing your comment ..THAT feeling you had at that VERY moment EXACTLY how the Black Race feels when we have to read/hear Racist remarks about US and The FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and HIS BLACK FAMILY.

      That FEELING should inspire you to spread some LOVE somewhere!

      1. John Doe says:

        What are you talking about? A thug is a thug no matter what color of skin he or she has. Are you really this stupid?

    6. Smooth says:

      You need a time out!

    7. Jason says:

      ^Fragile white masculinity on display here.^

  2. chris says:

    You asked about the source of this skillful interpersonal response. You can learn much more about it if you Google structural analysis of social behavior (SASB). Dr. Lorna Benjamin is author of SASB. Thanks for this contribution to making the world a more peaceful place

  3. Ila Jensen says:

    There was story out that had a young black woman filling her gas tank and a car with 4 white men got out and started threatening her, showed her a gun, stated they could shoot her of there were not witnesses so close. She had her phone out, dialed 911, etc. What might be said by this single woman on this case that might de-escalate the situation and make her safe?

  4. SLMorris says:

    And what would you do if it was at least two muslims attacking a Jew?First off, they never attack like this alone. Second, I already know what your response would be.

    1. Sullivan40 says:

      Since you are so clairvoyent, why are you botherinvbto ask yle question?

    2. Billiamo says:

      The response would, of course, be . . .

      :: crickets ::

    3. SLJ says:

      Bullying has no religious affiliation. Your question is invalid.

      1. SRP says:

        Best response ever!

  5. Dawn says:

    This confrontation could have been avoided. “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do” defined: When visiting a foreign land, follow the customs of those who live in it. If I were in a country in which my garb was offensive to many people for obvious reasons then I would not wear it in public where it might be construed as flaunting. Such as easy fix to wear something that fits in as a sign of respect rather than posing a challenge.

    1. Human says:

      Women who wear immodest clothes are also harassed but not for their religion, just because they are women.

    2. Stephanie says:

      Dawn is advocating against freedom of religion and freedom of expression. She is suggesting going against one’s moral and religious code to avoid getting unlawfully harrassed.

    3. David says:

      I think you are missing the point. This technique can be used in numerous examples of harassment, when simply wearing different clothes is not the solution such as being a different skin color or sex.

    4. Mel hun says:

      I can’t speak for other countries but here in America we have freedom of religion. People are allowed to wear whatever they like as long as their privates are covered.

    5. Glenda says:

      Dawn….. No. this isnt “garb”. This is religious clothing. It’s not just fashion. No one should have to forsake their beliefs to not be harrassed. You are victim blaming.

    6. LadyAnubis says:

      I agree, Dawn. & I’d like to add that before going to that foreign land, learn what they usually wear. Ex.- In Japan, a lot of people wear kimonos(well, at least those that stick to tradition still do). Different styles for different seasons & festivals.

    7. Cat says:

      Everyone should feel free to wear whatever makes them comfortable. Whether it be a hijab or a yarmulke, it shouldn’t matter. It’s NOT a flaunt to wear the required articles of your faith, and should never be construed as such.

    8. Sharie says:

      So she deserves to be harassed because of the way she’s dressed. Do the amish get harassed for the way they dress? It’s no different. Everyone in this country has the right to dress as they please without worrying about getting harassed or worse. How about we learn to respect others for who they are and not expect them to be just like you,

    9. SLJ says:

      The world doesn’t owe it to you to conform to your opinions to make you feel comfortable. If you can’t deal with the fact that someone dresses differently, the problem is yours, not theirs.

    10. Maria says:

      That is exactly what the right advocates in Europe: “do as the Romans”, and I think it is so wrong. This year France banned women from bathing fully covered in the sea, but there are nudist beaches all over Europe, how does one justify or even explain that? I side with all the replies here that say RESPECT for the differences; emigrating does not have to be you disappearing into the host culture, it means being yourself elsewhere and adapting to a new life. Having emigrated to 5 countries, I know a little bit about it.

  6. Carol says:

    What do you do if they don’t speak the language you speak?

    1. SLJ says:

      Good question. Gesture and facial expression might say what you can’t say with words.

      1. Dr_J says:

        you can show them photos of your children, pets, beautiful landscape, or even take a picture of the as@h@le harrassing them.

  7. A Hernandez says:

    Ummm. Its been all the ignore blues attacking Trump supporters. Because they didn’t read his policies for themselves and listened to what the news and they’re friends had to say, both of which, are usually fake anyways. But you dont see anyone making cute little pamplet’s for Trump supporters do you? The ones that have been continually lied to and abused by politicians owned by special interest groups. Its all bs people. Social justice is just an excuse by them to keep corruption in office bc they know everyone will stand behind it.

    1. TJ says:

      We could change the Muslim woman to a trumpette and the yelling man to a hippie. It would still apply. As stated “any” kind of harassment.
      You keep telling us to stop being so sensitive. Perhaps you should follow your own advice.

  8. Dan says:

    Dawn, you and your attitude of intolerance and “blame the victim” mentality are the root of the problem. This is America – where wearing what you want to wear (whether it connects to your religious beliefs or not) and believing what you want to believe is your RIGHT. When you dress up to go to church on Sunday are you “flaunting” anything? Educate yourself, try to muster some empathy, and maybe develop a relationship with some people who are different from yourself.

  9. Robin Neary says:

    Thank you… This helps me know what to do in “any” kind of harassment or bullying situation in a public place. (Although written in response to an Islamaphobia situation, I believe it could work across the board) I have been searching for ways to help my young son address bullying situations as well, and I like this approach. I will share this….

  10. Chris Hoffman says:

    Concerned may be attacked by attacker. On Skytrain where I live, also a silent alarm on train to get help as well.

  11. Wineaux says:

    Right Dawn, so don’t wear your cross or any other christian identifying clothing, jewelry, etc when in public. Cover up those christian tattoos. You’re down with that, right?

  12. Seer says:

    Dawn, why a person wearing a head scarf and long tunic will offend someone? If they see an American cowboy in a camel in Egypt or riding the subway in Paris or Moscow, nobody would say anything about, as long as the person is not threatening anyone… If a Chinese woman is wearing her silk dress or a Hollywood actress wearing a tight short skirt in Monaco nobody would lift their voices either…. see what I mean? The “Islamophobia” is getting out of hand, we are refusing to open our mind and our heart and we just go by what we read in the press or see on t.v. –

  13. Jake says:

    Thats great! now can you make a guide of what to do when an islamic fanatic decides to go on a murderous rampage in the name of Allah?

    1. SLJ says:

      I’m sure someone would be happy to tell you what to do when a loudmouth bigot shows up in a thread to spew ignorance and hate.

  14. LDR2 says:

    Why can’t we call 911 or alert a bus driver?

  15. Anders says:

    I really like the strategy. But, do you think it is advisable for a man to follow it if the female object is dressed up in muslim clothing? It may appear as I take the opportunity to make a move…

  16. Iamu says:

    That is more likely to be her husband.
    Also Muslims don’t like to be touched by non Muslims therefore the cartoon drawing would cause offence.

    1. Sharie says:

      That is a pretty ignorant comment.

  17. Norm says:

    I am a therapist intern and in the context of starting therapy with a client we call that process “joining.” It is both necessary and very effective. Great article.

  18. Eloise says:

    This technique is a way of helping anyone in a vulnerable situation who is being bullied. The current topical situation in western countries is women in hijabs etc being bullied. Interestingly, in the past as a white woman travelling in other countries where I was a minority and vulnerable, locals protected me from intimidating individuals by the same technique. And I have the seen the same scenario played out among children and teens. Bullying is bullying: how we deal with it when we see it should reflect how we would want our kids to respond if they saw it in the playground.

  19. Ian O'Connor says:

    The very fact that so many comments here are angry attacks on a comic book that recommends a completely passive response to bullying sadly confirms the need for such things.

  20. Tony says:

    It saved me knocking the f**ker out x

  21. Kristoffer says:

    This only works if you’re a woman, the muslim is taught tha she’s not allowed to speak with men and specially don’t look them in the eyes. Since you will be sitting beside her, you’ll be a bigger threat to her than the attacker

  22. Silver Bullet says:

    When they come, it will be way to late to quit being nice to those people who want to kill you.