Navigating identities: Experiencing online violence as a Shia woman in Pakistan

It was Eid-e-Ghadeer. Pakistani social media, especially Twitter, lit up with poetry and religious anecdotes and posts of celebrations, as it does around any occasions of Shia Muslims. 

Held a week after Eid-ul-Azha, Eid-e-Ghadeer is a highly significant day for the Shia Muslims all over the world as it marks the succession of Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, as the caliph of Islam. The day has of course caused differences between Shias and the majoritarian Sunnis who have different views pertaining to the occasion, but is nevertheless an important historical event in the Islamic history. These differences lead to ugly conversations that attack the belief system of almost 20% of the country’s population. 

But it is a time of celebration for Shias, so they celebrate. Just like my fellow Shias, I went on Twitter to share celebrations only to find a hashtag #BoycottEidGhadeer trending in Pakistan. 

If this had happened a few years ago, I would have been surprised and angry about it, perhaps would have also been willing to do the labour of engaging with those promoting the hashtag to explain that the campaign was hate speech. But this time round, I was more cautious and scared than I was angry. After all, alleging blasphemy in Pakistan is a matter of one accusation that leads to unending public trial resulting in mob violence killing the accused. So this time around, I decided to not put in the labour of educating the ignorants, and hoped the storm would die out on its own.

Continue reading at GenderIT.org.

Photo: Oscar Keys on Unsplash

 

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