- 16 Dec 21
Ala Buisir shares her thoughts and experiences as part of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism.
I went to a national school and at one stage, I was sitting down and talking to another person in my class. And she goes, “Why do you Arabs stink? Like the Indians?” That was just something simple, at the age of 13, where you’re like, “How am I meant to reply to that? Is she telling me that I stink, or is she just saying all the Arabs or the Muslim people do?”
A lot of people that get racially attacked, there’s no consequences after. I’ve been physically, racially attacked twice, and both of them had a big impact on me, and they did change who I was. I’ve lost count of how many verbal, racial attacks I got. And there were no consequences. You put in a report, and that report disappears.
Ireland is a Catholic country, even though it’s not seen as a Catholic country as much any more, and I accept that. I actually love that, because a lot of the time it intersects with my faith. But sometimes because of that, it makes you question, “Is it me? Is it my faith or is it the atmosphere I’m in? What did I do?” It makes you question everything. Even to this day, whatever work I do, I always question, “Is it because I’m Muslim? Is it because I’m wearing a headscarf? Is it because of my name?”
I was born and raised in Ireland, but my parents are from Libya. I found myself having access to stories that other people can’t talk about. I had access to stories that couldn’t be told. And that’s how I came up with my project ‘Labelled’. Whenever we look at people, without noticing through unconscious bias, we label them straight away.
We need to get to know people before we ‘label’ them. Afterwards, I kept following that theme where I document communities through projects about human rights. Because I wanted a change. And because I want people’s stories to be heard.
Read Part 2 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism in the current issue of Hot Press:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.