Malala has always been a center of controversy amongst Pakistanis. For every person who adores her, there are sadly two that hate her senselessly. It appears that her home country never seems to unite and accept her, for who she is, with open arms.
Malala Yousafzai recently shared a picture of herself doused in vibrant colors. The 20-year-old captioned the photo: A colorful day
A colourful day ? pic.twitter.com/QCCDzNiJWG
— Malala (@Malala) May 22, 2018
Her adorable tweet was met with vile comments and bigotry
While some people were wrongfully offended and claimed that celebrating Holi is haram, others proved to be the voice of reason and reminded everyone that Holi was in March this year and that these pictures are from a secular color throwing event.
Give her another Nobel because she playing Holi haram.
? I think she need to proper treatment by Taleban
— ?নুসরাত জাহান জেনি (@nusratjahanjeni) May 22, 2018
Keyboard jehadi colour day hai, Holi ni. ? #Hypocrites
— Faisal Khattak (@Faisal_ktk) May 22, 2018
But even if the pictures are from a Holi celebration, there is no reason to create a fuss. Many people pointed out the unconcealed double standards for gaging morality
While there were many supportive messages for Malala, intolerance inundated the comments section
Some people went as far as to use threats of physical and sexual assault as an intimidation tactic.
The violent comments sparked a conversation about intolerance and the normalization of rape
This isn’t about Malala as much as it is about normalising rape, and that too as ‘sawaab.’ I mean u never know, men might start using it as an excuse to rape, like how ‘sawaab’ was used to kill Mashal Khan. If u can use it to kill ppl, then you can use it to rape ppl too.
— Eman Suleman (@eman_anjum) May 24, 2018
This is the mentality which needs to be addressed and changed once and for all. They don’t see things with wide perspective but with their tiny, dirty and contaminated minds.
— Haider Ali (@fallraider) May 24, 2018
Some resorted to ad hominem to defend rape
اتنی نفرت بلا وجہ نہیں ہوتی۔ کہیں چنگاری ہوتی ہے تو ہی دھواں اٹھتا ہے۔
— Waqas Riaz (@waqasriazdxb) May 23, 2018
Although violent threats come as no surprise to us, it is hard to mar our disappointment. With the rise of technology, cyberbullying has become the most prevalent form of bullying worldwide
Keyboard warriors hide behind their screens and type incessantly wretched remarks that inadvertently scar the victim. Of late, we saw Misha Shafi receiving an outpouring of hate and abuse online when she came forward with sexual harassment claims against Ali Zafar. The contemptuous and threatening comments led Shafi to deactivate some of her social media accounts.
Anyone who resides in Pakistan knows that sadly a threat received online is not a hollow intimidation tactic. Malala Yousifzai herself was shot as a consequence of her writings online
Mashal Khan was lynched by an enraged mob of educated, university going Pakistani’s after a false Facebook account by his name surfaced online- the one that he repeatedly maintained did not belong to him. In the wake of such instances, one is left questioning what good was that education when it could not instill tolerance?
The idea that someone’s differing opinion can trigger someone else to commit cold-blooded murder is berserk to many of us. One may ask, what makes the perpetrators of violence function in the way that they do. Are their actions a byproduct of toxic masculinity, flawed social structures, religious intolerance or is there a psychological element to this hate?
Instead of having conversations about a pluralistic worldview and tolerance, from a young age we teach our children that there is only a certain way to think and act and anything other than that deserves judgment and punishment.
On a macro scale, this results in a nation that lacks empathy and an inability to entertain a paradigm different from theirs. In simpler terms: It is my way or the highway. Your right to life is less important than my opinion.
It is no secret that Pakistan is grappling with the rise of intolerance and violence against women and minorities. Ample incidents of acid attacks and honor killing just within 2018 can be cited to back up these claims.
While conversations about intolerance are usually limited to religious intolerance and extremism, the problem permeates far beyond that. Though it is true that religious intolerance always culminates in violence, there is a more dangerous day-to-day pervasive display of intolerance that plagues our society. This intolerance though does not explicitly shed blood, it creates the right medium for the birth of a graver form. Like bacteria that flourishes only in a certain optimal temperature, propagation of violence and aggression needs a similar dynamic to exist.
The daily ugly quarrels between political opponents on talk shows, the offensive inciting language used in political rallies, the mockery made out of titillating social media “stars” like Qandeel Baloch, the causal hatred reserved for anyone who dares to step outside the norm, are all the different expressions of everyday intolerance.
If we want solutions, it is important to recognize that we are part of the problem
While it is easy to single out fanaticism, it is much harder to have a deep hard look in the mirror and recognize our own flaws. Perhaps you are not pulling the trigger, but when you disseminate misinformation about another individual and trivialize it as gossip, you too are part of a culture of intolerance.
May we all find the willingness and capacity to endure the existence of opinions and behavior that are not only different from us but are ones that we vehemently dislike and disagree with. Here’s to a tolerant Pakistan.
Cover image via: