When you’ve found the medium to express yourself, there are certain times that you are compelled to use it. The compulsion is so great that it takes over all your priorities until your expression is complete. This, what you’re reading right now, is a result of one such compulsion. While this particular urge has been a long time coming, recent events finally sparked the fire.
What recent events? Currently the fire that rages inside me is caused by the fallout after Asma Jahangir’s death.
Fallout is a very odd word to use to describe the aftermath of a person’s death but that’s what it has become. Like everything this brave woman did in her life, her death also sparked a conversation. However, it’s the wrong conversation.
Let The BS Commence
For every comment mourning her, there was a comment actually expressing joy over her death. Let that sink in. A woman just died. She had yet to be laid to rest. Her corpse was not even cold yet. And there were already internet trolls dancing on her grave.
If that shocks you, let me tell you that this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened.
You’d think that it’s so because this brave woman was so outspoken and blunt that no doubt she rubbed some people the wrong way. However, this has occurred before, at the time of the death of Abdul Sattar Edhi too.
Upon his death, a cleric had exclaimed relief that he was gone, because he chose not to differentiate based on religion. Imagine, a man with so much social capital, being attacked like this after his death. For Asma Jahangir, it was much worse.
People started off relatively tame, by saying that she’d ‘face the music’ as if they knew the tunes to be played in her afterlife.
Other commenters got progressively worse. Starting off from the usual ‘may she rot in hell’ to going as far to say that her death was a happy occasion.
I’m not going to lie; unfortunately, I know very little about Asma Jahangir. So I don’t know where I stand on her; supporter or opposition. However, as a Muslim and a human being, this annoyed me greatly.
The Human Quotient
I don’t know if it was just me, or if it’s truly part of our religious teachings. But, I was taught to respect the dead. The dead, being no longer animate, lose the ability to defend themselves or the ability to ignore. Attacking someone then, it’s not just petty and cowardly, it’s despicable and inhuman.
I being who I am, honestly find it very hard to not get enraged and go into full-fledged keyboard warrior mode. This time I couldn’t resist.
I commented on one such post. Not addressing any one of the incredibly hypocritical trolls. Within the hour, I was called an emotional fool, all because I opposed their view. Many of them claimed that the deceased spread hatred all throughout her career. And chose to address that claim by doing exactly that. If you were so opposed to something she, according to you did. Why are you okay with doing it yourself?
After pointing out that a certain individual would rather insult a stranger online than do anything else, I was told to chill.
But here’s the thing, I can not and I will not chill. The right to an opinion does not give us the right to judge. We aren’t sitting on a high chair in a courtroom. Nor are we so omnipresent as to know all beings inside and out.
The person who chose to insult me is nothing more than a human being, like me. They have their families, ambitions, opinions etc. I may not agree with everything they say. But I do not attack them for their opinion and expect mine to be accepted.
No End in Sight
This isn’t an isolated incident though. I have been privy to BS both on a large scale and on a much more personal level. On a larger scale, I saw such vile BS against Sharmeen Obaid last year. Though, yes her situation was different, but there is something common here. She is a strong woman who raised her voice, just like Asma Jahangir. And by doing so was subjected to a barrage of vile insults.
On one hand you say women should be respected, that heaven lies underneath a mother’s feet. And on the other, you abuse a woman.
On a more personal level, in 2013, a friend’s brother was shot dead by a security guard following a disagreement. The very next day a page was made in Facebook, defaming the deceased. Defaming is actually a tame word to use, given the atrocious BS posted on that page. So now my friend was forced to face the prospects of watching their brother be defamed online. On top of having to bury him prematurely.
In the face of this, I always call out for one thing, empathy. Though I agree my comments may seem emotionally charged. But in essence that is what having empathy means. You relate to and connect with the other person’s pain.
However, when I do so, I get called an emotional fool. By strangers who believe having empathy, especially for anything they don’t agree with, is beneath them.
All while they claim to follow Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), who had said that schools and hospitals shouldn’t be attacked in times of war.
Given that we are so blatantly hypocritical now, it’s high time we cut this BS.