As i sit down to write this post, the world is becoming a dangerous place. It’s slowly being consumed by hate, prejudice, stereotypes and most of all religious fundamentalism. A week ago there was a siege in a Sydney cafe. The world was appalled by the incident. Seventeen people were taken hostage and three were killed including the hostage-taker – Man Haron Monis, a fifty year old man born in Iran and settled in Australia. The Prime Minister of Australia -Tony Abbott has described Monis as “a deeply disturbed individual with a long history of crime, a long history of mental instability and infatuation with extremism.” The man has over forty cases concerning sexual and assault related offences and a history of religiously motivated activism. During the siege , Monis displayed an Islamic flag.
The world stood in solidarity with Sydney. The best thing that happened was the hashtag that trended globally on Twitter – #illRideWithYou. The motive and the feeling behind the hashtag was to support those individuals of the Muslim community who could have got cornered and who could have been possible targets of retaliatory attacks, just because one man (Haron Monis) was crazy enough to be so extreme that he landed up being responsible for a siege and killed innocent citizens. Australia set an example for the world to follow. It didn’t work up into an Islamophobic rage because of the actions of a single maniac. I’d like to share here how the hashtag started because it’s heart warming.
It started with a tweet from @sirtessa, a TV content editor and writer from Sydney whose real name is Tessa Kum. Tessa Kum told BuzzFeed News that “her heart broke” after reading a story tweeted by Rachael Jacobs as news of the hostage siege broke.Rachael Jacobs, on Facebook had posted a status in which she mentioned seeing a woman, she presumed was Muslim silently removing her hijab while sitting next to her on the train: “I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on. I’ll walk with u. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute – then walked off alone’. This little encounter of Rachael Jacobs with a woman in religious attire inspired this Twitter user, @sirtessa, and she tweeted – “If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you. @ me for schedule.” Moments later she tweeted again “Maybe start a hashtag? What’s in #illridewithyou?” And that’s how it began :)
Some of the tweets under the hashtag were plain beautiful:
“I was going to drive to work tomorrow but seeing the outpouring of support changed my mind. #illridewithyou Thank you. See you on the train!”
“Anybody concerned for their safety going to work in Brisbane tomorrow morning from the Northside, #illridewithyou”
“illridewithyou because together the journey is more fun. That, friends, is our victory: one haters will never know.”
“i’m muslim and verry happy to see that people in austrilia know that a group of jihadist don’t represent all the religion #illridewithyou.”
Isn’t this a wonderful response from Sydney?? It just touches your heart and you feel that yes even in a world full of hate , there is goodness and people stand with and for each other above religion, colour, caste everything. At times like these, all we need is to be human. That’s all. The world should learn from Sydney because i can vouch for the fact that had this same incident happened elsewhere, including the top nations of the world, there would surely have been communal attacks and innocent people would have been targeted.
After the world stood in solidarity with Sydney, Peshawar in Pakistan witnessed one of the most brutal acts of violence. This time the victims were school going children. One hundred and forty one deaths in a just a few minutes. Out of these one hundred and thirty were children. I will not call it death , i will call it a massacre. The Taliban gunmen just stormed in classrooms and shot children randomly. They shot them in their heads point blanc. I am flabbergasted at the psyche of such inhuman brutes. Do they not think at all? Are they so weak to be brainwashed into killing innocents. What kind of a Jihad are they fighting for? They didn’t just kill children, they killed aspirations , dreams and hopes of a hundred families.They killed the future of a nation that just doesn’t learn and because of which every Muslim in the world gets ‘generalized’ as being a filthy human being.
I am an Indian. My country shares its border with Pakistan. Their internal disturbances affect us too. It affected us this time as well and we feel sorry for the people who are born in a country which in my view is a failed state with an absolutely weak establishment. We didn’t start a #illRideWithYou hashtag but we did start #IndiawithPak which has exactly the same intent as the hashtag from Sydney did. I feel proud as an Indian that majority of the people from my nation stood in solidarity with the families of the innocent kids that got massacred. I feel proud that even the most extreme right wing proponents showed their support . I’m proud that our Prime Minister spread the word for observing a two minute silence across schools in India today and the schools observed it. After all each and every innocent life across the planet is precious and terrorism in any form is to be condemned.
However what i am not proud of is the fact that when we as a nation stood in solidarity with our neighbouring nation, people like Hafiz Saeed from Pakistan were planning terror attacks on some of the major cities in India. Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind behind the terror attacks on the Indian Parliament. Pakistan , instead of nailing this marauder acquitted him of all the charges. He now lives in Pakistan as a free citizen. Not just this, underworld dons like Dawood Ibrahim live freely in Pakistan. Every limit was crossed today by Pakistan when just twenty four hours after the brutal carnage, a man known by the name of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was released on bail for ,”lack of evidence.” Can you beat this.? Hypocrisy anyone? Yesterday their Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken a vow to combat terrorism and wipe out every single terrorist out of the country. Is this how the establishment plans to combat terror ? Lakhvi was one of the main accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks where we lost so many of our innocent people, our loved ones, our dear ones. And we haven’t yet healed. We really haven’t.
There are also spineless assholes ( i will not abstain from using such language because they deserve it) like Pervez Musharaf who publicly issued a statement slamming India and blaming us for the incident (God knows how) . He said,“Pakistan will harness these incidents to fuel old mythologies of hatred and provoke even greater violence against India and Afganistan.” I am flustered at the man’s audacity blaming a nation which has right from the outset preached for peace and that too for the entire region. We lose soldiers on our borders, we lose friends in terrorist attacks, we even get threats all the time. Yet we stood in solidarity for the families of the innocent children because we feel the pain and instead of appreciating this gesture, some madmen from Pakistan end up blaming us ? For what ? If only Pakistan had been more careful with their internal security, their country would be much better than what it is now. Today if Pakistan removes their security forces from their borders and use them for internal security, they still have nothing to worry about. I’m saying this with such surety because India will neither encroach their land nor violate the ceasefire. This is my beloved country that their establishment so easily blames. It’s upsetting.
Having said all this, i’d also like to point out that on Twitter there were so many people from Pakistan who not only appreciated India’s support but also held their establishment responsible for the violence and brutality of their nation. I’d like to share a few tweets here:
Hence there are people on both sides of the border who want peace everywhere and who appreciate what we do for them. I feel terrible for people who get ‘generalized’ because they happen to be a part of a particular nation or religion. I am sure just like me there will be women of of my age, my caliber and my dreams that are born in Pakistan. I am sure there are men who live in fear every passing day and who want to lead normal lives. I am sure that there will be people who are as fed up of the atrocity as we are. That is why how can one possibly ‘generalize.’ I am a woman and i hear all the time women being raped by men. But that doesn’t make every man a rapist. Likewise just because a few extremists and politicians of a country are spouting hate not just against India but anything progressive , doesn’t make an entire population culpable.
On twitter, i had a little debate today with a dear friend of mine. He too stood in solidarity for what happened with the children yesterday but was extremely aggravated by the bail of Lakhvi today. His point was that how can we as a nation stand up for Pakistan when they acquit people like Saeed & Lakhvi and they are completely hypocritical when it comes to terrorism. Now he’s right on this. He surely is. However my point was that even in a nation like Pakistan there definitely are people like my friend and me who are innocent so we have got to stand for them. How can we possibly hate them because it’s not their fault. His rebuttal was that the people are responsible because they are the ones who have chosen an establishment like this, Pakistan being a democracy. My counter was that people had to choose them because they had no other choice. Now both my friend and me are on the same page as far as our stand on terrorism is concerned. However he feels ( and he has every right to) that people in general in Pakistan are responsible for what happens to them while i say that they are not because it’s easier said than done. Taking a stand against the establishment is not easy , that too in a nation like Pakistan. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t. Ofcourse they should but it’s hard .It is. Either people will have to enter politics or get united (which i highly doubt by the way) and then pave a way for reforms. Pakistan needs a second freedom struggle. This time to counter the enemy within.
As a woman i feel very strongly on issues around and i speak up. I was just wondering if instead of India i was born in Pakistan with exactly the same attributes, would i be allowed to take a stand? The kind of person i am, i would have actually and i’m definite the fundamentalists would have shot me down in cold blood. Forget about taking a stand, i don’t think they would have allowed me to write a blog against the establishment that i can so freely do in India. That is why i said it’s easier said than done. I might believe and shout all my life that i want to combat terror but when my own family members will be taken hostage and i’d be warned to not believe what i’m doing, i’ll have to take a step back. Actually this holds true for every one not just me. We might be the strongest of people ,wanting to get rid of terror but we can’t when it comes to the people we love. A young girl of 15 – Malala Yousafzai gets shot in her forehead, takes a stand and becomes the youngest recipient at 17. to win a Nobel prize, that too for peace. This is an individual taking a stand. But she was forced to leave Swat Valley , the place where she belongs and now wants to fight terrorism from UK .I commend her courage but it’s sad that her country cannot accommodate her because she happens to be in a minority. Minority of individuals who need peace, who need education and who just like us want to progress.
This is the problem with Pakistan. It just doesn’t protect individuals who want to make their country a better place. It’s a country where the extremists don’t even want to allow kids to be educated. They are retrogressive. Fear is the strongest weapon that a terrorist uses against innocent citizens. So if individuals from Pakistan don’t take a stand , it’s not because they don’t want to. They are instilled with fear that they just can’t. But now is the time. Someone will have to initiate it and that too from the masses. I mean a country of 182.1 million with a handful of dolt politicians and extremists can be handled but that one initiation is required. Even though i know that this reform (if it happens) will lead to the loss of thousands of lives, it will have to be done some day and i hope that ‘some day’ arrives soon.
I read a quote once according to which – we end up being ruled by inferior people just because we are too weak to take a stand. Holds true. Pakistan needs to put their arrogance aside, stop blaming India for the mess they’ve created and save their ‘innocent’ citizens a lot of trouble by not letting them being ‘generalized.’ Even if today, Pakistan supports India in its fight against terror , it will be a better country in a lot of aspects. I tweeted yesterday that ,” Hillary Clinton had once said,”You cant keep snakes in your backyard & think they’ll bite only your neighbours. Pakistan is a failed state.” This is what Pakistan needs to introspect about. They need to stop harbouring terrorists, else their country will become living hell. My friend tweeted – “Selective approach against Terrorism will cost Pakistan dearly..how can a nation be so double speaking..“. This says it all. High time. Live in peace , let your innocent citizens live in peace and let us live in peace.
This is my last post for 2014. I’d like to see 2015 bring in more love, more compassion, more peace to the world. I’d like to see more unity, more oneness, keeping our prejudices aside. I really want our globalized village to be a much better place to live in. Wishing you all an extremely happy New Year. See you in 2015 with a greater zeal for every cause i strongly feel about. For now, I’d like to conclude by saying -
DON’T FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER, FIGHT THE COMMON ENEMY, FIGHT HATE !!
P.S : ( i owe my dear friend this post because our debate got me thinking and i had to write :) )
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