The deadly hate crime attack on a crowded commuter train last Friday, which began when right-wing extremist Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, started harassing two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, has brought out the best in the city of Portland, Oregon.
During the incident, two men who intervened to try and stop Christian’s harassment, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were killed. In response, the city has given the pair a hero’s memorial, and has spread messages of love and acceptance to counter Christian’s message of hate and exclusion.
One of the touching photographs from the Portland memorial for 3 slain heroes in anti-Muslim bus attack by white supremacist in Oregon... pic.twitter.com/kvR6Byk4Bn— Arsalan Iftikhar (@TheMuslimGuy) June 1, 2017
Arsalan Iftikhar, a journalist and human rights advocate who goes by the name TheMuslimGuy on Twitter, posted an image of the memorial wall with a touching message for the Muslim women of Portland — and everywhere.
“Wear your hijab with pride” the anonymously-scrawled spraypaint message said, the words floating above other messages thanking the heroes for standing up for others.
Hate crimes against Muslims are rising at an unsettling pace in the US. According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) anti-Muslim bias incidents increased from 1,409 in 2015 to 2,213 in 2016, an increase of 57%.
The message on the Portland wall has resonated around the country:
Don't let anyone make you feel less for wearing a hijab 🧕🏽🧕🏽🧕🏽🧕🏽🧕🏽 https://t.co/9bJXosPTYn— 🕊Hadeel 🕊 (@Gandoora32) June 1, 2017
So incredibly powerful and touching. https://t.co/uJQclkvNWW— 🙏 (@urougey) June 1, 2017
Amid the outpouring of messages of support and remembrance for the heroes, the message about hijab left on the Portland wall shows that for that city, the incident was also a time to remind Muslims that they are welcome, too.