By now most of us with a social media account would’ve heard of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed who was targeted in one of the most high profile cases of religious or racial discrimination in the US this year. Mohamed, a student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was removed from the class, and interrogated by the police for bringing to school a clock that was perceived as a (hoax) bomb. The 14-year-old was taken away in handcuffs.

What ensued was a massive backlash on social media, with Mohamed’s teacher and school administration being accused of, and derided for, blatant anti-Muslim bigotry or Muslimophobia – commonly known as the misnomer ‘Islamophobia’.

Multiple reports have reaffirmed Mohamed as an inquisitive young teenager, who has a knack for technological innovation. And even though Muslimophobes have queued up to downplay his work with a plethora of theories – none of which convincingly discredit his intellectual ability – the popular sentiment around the world is that a promising youngster was about to be hard done by, owing to his religious identity.

The US, like many parts of Europe, has witnessed a wave of Muslimophobia in the recent past, which has been further aggravated by the on-going Syrian refugee crisis. The anti-Muslim PEGIDA rally in December 2014, where 17,500 rallied against ‘Islamisation of Germany’ coincided with three mosques being firebombed in Sweden. A couple of months before that Canada’s Cold Lake mosque was vandalised and sprayed with messages like ‘Go Home’, while 16 Australian cities hosted ‘Reclaim Australia’ protests with hundreds of demonstrators vying to ban anything remotely related to Islam in April this year. The Chapel Hill shooting, when three young Muslims were shot dead in February, manifested the ugliest side of anti-Muslim bigotry in the West.

Even so, what one has witnessed in all cases of high-profile exhibits of Muslimophobia, is the Western media, masses and public figures vocally denouncing the bigotry.

PEGIDA’s rally was followed by 30,000 marchers, led by Chancelor Angela Merkel, protesting against the Muslimophobes in other German cities on the same day. Canadians and Swedes “love-bombed” the vandalised mosques with messages of support. Meanwhile, #IllRideWithYou trended in Australia when Muslims feared a backlash of last year’s Sydney Siege in December.

Following last week’s arrest of Mohamed, #IStandWithAhmed trended all over the world, with messages of support coming from people like Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The US president invited Ahmed Mohamed to the White House, with invitations pouring in from Facebook, Microsoft and MIT as well. As is evident, the West’s self-reflection and reaction to the xenophobia, of what clearly is a minority, overshadows the existence of anti-Muslim bigotry. Or so one would assume…

As is the norm, the Muslim world, where bigotry, discrimination and tolerance are ubiquitous, jumped aboard the ‘Islamophobia’ bandwagon to further propagate its perpetual sense of victimhood. Not only did we hijack Ahmed Mohamed’s story, and the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag – which for all intents and purposes signifies pluralism conquering chauvinism – we reiterated the ‘Us vs Them’ rhetoric to bizarrely emphasise the differences in the most anticlimactic of manoeuvres.

Not only that, as we Muslims stood with ‘Muslim brother’ Ahmed, we conveniently forgot the millions of Ahmeds in Muslim states that are targeted over a multitude of discriminatory fault-lines on a daily basis. While the pan-Islamic fraternity – that unfortunately dominates most Muslim countries as things stand– was always going to cash in on another incident of ‘Islamophobia’, it’s the rational and progressive members of our intelligentsia that completely missed the plot.

Ahmed’s isn’t a Muslim story. It’s an American’s tale, where a young prodigy was first discriminated against owing to his religious beliefs, but then received overwhelming support from his compatriots, defying racial, religious, and class-based divides. Our rationalists, meanwhile, joined the Islamist contingent of the ‘Islamophobia’ bandwagon preferring to highlight the act of discrimination and not the reaction that ensued.

The moral from Mohamed’s story, for us Muslims, living in Muslim countries should’ve been to look inwards and maybe learn how to react to bigotry. Instead we were hankering after the scores of brownie points that accompany taking a stand against ‘Islamophobia’.

Anti-Muslim bigotry clearly exists, as was made evident by an attendee recently asking Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump about “getting rid of Muslims from the US” in a campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. However, the xenophobia that exists in the Muslim world vis-à-vis non-Muslims – and minority Muslim sects – towers above Muslimophobia in the West.

From Pew polls highlighting overwhelming support for primitive punishments over beliefs, sexual orientation or crimes of conscience to hogging all global lists of intolerance and discrimination, the Muslim world is the unquestionable hub of bigotry.

With wholehearted endorsement of hadd laws, blasphemy law and Shariah, prevailing in the Muslim world, do we Muslims not realise that the principal source of Muslimophobia are we, ourselves?

Do we not realise that the decades-long support for jihadism in the Muslim world is a major reason why Mohamed, and many others like him, have to face discrimination over their religious identity?

Instead of obsessing over the West’s prejudices, shouldn’t we first own up to our part in synthesising an irrational fear of Islam and the paranoia that non-violent, tolerant Muslims have to suffer from?

The reason why certain sections of the West paint us all with the same brush is because we proudly flaunt that brush ourselves, while self-pointing as one monolithic Ummah. The stereotype of a monolithic Muslim population wasn’t created in the West. It has originated, and been proliferated, in majority of the Muslim states, wherein pluralism is actually outlawed (Case in point: Ahmadis in Pakistan).

We also peddle that stereotype with our silence on Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, North Wazristan, Balochistan, Kurdistan, as we bellow for Palestinians, Kashmiris and the Rohingyas. We’re only outraged when non-Muslims kill Muslims, only moved when non-Muslims discriminate against Muslims…

Despite decades of massacre by the al-Assad family in Syria, it took Europe’s ownership of the Syrian refugee crisis for us to protest. Because then we could blame the ‘Islamophobic’ West again.

We hijacked Alan Kurdi’s story then. We have hijacked Ahmed Mohamed’s story now. And we rigidly refuse to look into the mirror, tightly clutching our victim card.