Remember a couple years ago, when #WeAreN went viral and the letter ن started popping up in profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter?
That was because ISIS was going door to door in Mosul, Iraq, marking the homes of Christians with the Arabic letter ن (n) for “Nazarene.” Christians in America adopted the letter as a sign of solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq.
Now that Donald Trump is pursuing the idea of a Muslim registry, there are two things you should know:
(1) This is exactly what ISIS did to Christians in Iraq.
There is no difference between the actions of ISIS toward Christians in Mosul and the proposed actions of Donald Trump toward Muslims in America—or in their desired effect.
When ISIS marked Christian homes in Iraq, the intended message was clear to everyone who saw it: The people who live here—they’re not us. They don’t belong.
The goal was to intimidate, so that Christians would leave. And they did.
That is the sole purpose of Donald Trump’s proposed registry. To set Muslims apart. To identify them as “other.” It is a thinly veiled pretext for saying to millions of Americans: You don’t belong.
(2) Also, that #WeAreN hashtag? That movement to show solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq?
That began with MUSLIMS.
Long before it was coopted by Christians in America to show solidarity with people they perceived to be “their own,” #WeAreN was a statement of solidarity across religious lines. Muslims in Iraq, who saw the persecution of their Christian sisters and brothers, were the first to voluntarily mark themselves, saying, “No. If one group is marked, we are all marked.”
Muslims, putting themselves in harm’s way to defend their persecuted Christian neighbors.
Muslims, standing up to the forces of bigotry and hatred and violence, even when someone else was the intended target.
That’s where this symbol, this self-sacrificial act of solidarity, came from. If you posted a #WeAreN profile pic or marked yourself with the Arabic letter ن, know this: a Muslim did it first.
Which leads to one big question…
Will we return the favor?
When Muslims are targeted and marked, will we stand up for them? Will we say “We are Muslim” the way they said “We are Christian” when it was our people being persecuted?
There can be only one Christian response to Donald Trump’s plan to register all Muslims. And that’s for all of us to register as Muslim. To say, “If one group is marked, we are all marked.”
Muslims did it for Christians in Iraq two years ago, in the face of an even greater threat.
Will we do the same for them when they are targeted?
As my friend and colleague Jeremy (who made #WeAreN go viral two years ago) writes, if you’re not outraged by Donald Trump’s Muslim registry, if you’re not prepared to act, then you don’t get to complain about religious freedom ever again.
If you’re a Christian and not outraged by Trump’s Muslim registry idea, you never get to cry about religious freedom or persecution again.
— Jeremy Courtney (@JCourt) November 17, 2016
To be a Christian—to be a follower of Jesus—is to do one thing: love your neighbor.
Well, here’s your chance.
So what will it be? When the voices of hate turn their venom toward our Muslim neighbors, will you say #RegisterMeFirst?
Image: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0