The reverberations from the Paris terrorist attacks are sure to affect everyone worldwide, including Muslims who reject extremist violence.
On the Saturday night after the horrific events, musician Darren Hanlon had missed his bus stop in Sydney, Australia, and hailed an Uber to get home.
In a Facebook post put up the next day, Hanlon says that after engaging in the “usual small talk” with his driver, the tone abruptly shifted when the driver said, “Speaking of human common sense, I can’t understand these who go around killing other people … in cold blood.”
“He’d dovetailed it into the conversation as if he’d been waiting to,” Hanlon writes. “I recognised the moment that sometimes happens in the driver/passenger relationship where the banal switches to the deeply personal, the freedom allowed strangers who are trapped in a finite time period together.”
The man, from India, revealed he was a Muslim and said “and this is not what I was taught as a child” in regards to the terrorist attack.
Hanlon, who grew up in Gympie, Queensland, told ABC North Coast the driver was emotional when speaking.
“He confessed that he was a Muslim and that he felt disillusioned by what had happened and the atrocities that were happening in the name of his religion,” Hanlon said.
“It felt like he really needed to talk.
“There’s a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment at the moment and it was really interesting for me to get a first-hand perspective from another angle.”
The driver told Hanlon he had been praying at a mosque before he got the ride request and that one of his teachers taught him “that people will angle teachings of the Koran to reflect their own needs,” just as a finance banker might pick certain lines to justify his own actions.
“I looked over to see him wipe tears from his eyes.” Hanlon writes.
At one point in the conversation, Hanlon asked the driver, “Doesn’t the Koran have a basic law … like the Bible … that says Thou Shalt Not Kill?”
“Of course!” the driver responded. “The second highest law says that if you kill a single soul it’s like killing the soul of all humanity. If you save a single soul, you save all humanity.”
Hanlon concludes his post by writing: “I didn’t wanna write this as some kind of statement. I just want to tell you about my brief random conversation with a sad Muslim Sydney Uber driver, whose religion is being taken from him.”
In the two days since his Facebook post went up on Nov. 15, it has been shared over 9,000 times and liked by nearly 34,000 people.
Hanlon said that he had not expected the post to go viral and had debated putting it up.
“I sent it to a friend and said, ‘Do you think it’s a good idea to put this up?’ Because you never know the sensitivity levels around these things,” he told ABC North Coast.
“My friend said, ‘It’s a really nice story, but it’s not like anyone’s going to read it.’ “