The burkini ban in some French coastal towns continues to stoke controversy well beyond the country’s borders.
Many people regard the bans, now overturned in certain municipalities, as sexist, Islamophobic and — most of all — counterproductive to assimilating Muslims into the country.
Now, Marie-Shirine Yener (aka Maeril), a 21-year-old artist and illustrator from Paris – has created an illustrated guide for bystanders who see Muslims who are being harassed.
The guide — in both French and English — first appeared on The Middle Eastern Feminist’s page on Facebook and is based on a technique used in psychology called “non-complementary behavior”:
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!
These are the main steps:
1. Engage conversation.
2. Pick a random subject and start discussing it.
3. Keep building the safe space.
4. Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves & escort them to a safe place if necessary.
The illustration was shared thousands of times on Tumblr and people started asking Maeril advice: