You can watch a video version of Maeril's guide here:
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.
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 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."
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ryan Broderick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jules Darmanin est journaliste chez BuzzFeed News France et travaille depuis Paris.
Contact Jules Darmanin at Jules.Darmanin@buzzfeed.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.