As a public speaker, I’m used to critique, sometimes hostility and opposition to my point of view because the word ‘public’ means that I have to accept and acknowledge all kinds of feedback being in the public forum. That’s good.
I’m used to ‘friendly fire’ – friends telling me how to better conduct myself publicly. Fair enough.
Also as an activist I learnt a long time ago that not everyone agrees with me – that’s even better. The beauty of living in a free liberal democracy is that we have the freedom to agree, disagree, offend or be offended. It’s all part of maturing and critique is healthy when honestly directed in a constructive manner.
However the equation changes when my private life is questioned. This is where I draw the line. Whether you’re a friend or foe, you’re most welcome to contact me (my info is all online) and speak to me. But NEVER ever use me to get to any member of my family for you’ve never seen the wrath of a lioness when her pride and pack is attacked.
Such an incident happened this past weekend. In the interest of privacy I won’t take names but let’s say Laurel and Hardy are two young men who I cared for without judgements, questioning or criticism over many years. Despite signs that something was one-sided in this relationship, I ignored these misgivings and continued to nurture the relationship. They expressed doubts at my activism and the work I’ve undertaken to fight terrorism so I even took time to gently and clearly explain to them that my activism doesn’t impact my personal relationships. It never has. I invited them to come and meet me at home, have a chit chat over a cuppa tea – nothing that can’t be resolved.
Instead I received first an email from Laurel followed closely by a similarly offensive one from Hardy. Obviously there was some sharing of more than information here. Ironically, the critique and target wasn’t me. It was my hubby of 35 years, my friend and mentor who everyone knows is my partner in all I do. He’s the most stable person I’ve ever known who’s always happy and never gives explanations for anything he says or does because he believes he’s free and answerable only to the creator. However if asked nicely, he will respond. He also has his own particular brand of humour which is maybe why he has more followers on his facebook page than me. I respect this.
Their beef was that Sohail posted a cartoon of a topless woman on his fb page followed by the photo of a woman in a niqab brandishing a machine gun who can be nothing but a terrorist since the killing machine isn’t there for building bridges or going to school.
Here’s a sampling of the emails that were sent to me direct – not even copied to Sohail because Laurel and Hardy are obviously very insecure and lack the Kahunas to address Sohail directly (who is the culprit here because I’m married to him)
Laurel “As an advocate of woman and human rights, before you campaign elsewhere, please consider taking a deeper and perhaps harder look in your own backyard. Increasingly, Sohail bhai’s posts, intentionally or inadvertently, are not only promoting hate against Muslims, but sadly are targeted against Muslim women……. And if there are female Muslim terrorists, there are historical reasons. I feel nothing but sad that a fine lady like you is associated intimately with a man seems to have plenty of time on his hands to do plenty of humiliation of a specific group.” Laurel “Maybe Sohail bhai is not feeling well these days? Maybe frustrated about personal issues? I don’t know. But there is always hope and help.
Hardy “May Allah help Sohail bhai; he needs it, badly”.
Hardy “it is not helping anyone except those whose lives are filled with vengeance, aggression and hatred for anyone who is not like them”
Why do I post this and go on about it? Not because I need to defend my sleeping with the so-called dysfunctional, vengeful, aggressive and horrible person I’m married to, or because I need to protect him or take him to see a psychologist.
But because of two larger reasons:
One, you see the mind set of these two young educated, so-called moderate Muslim men is exactly the problem we are faced with. They have this burning desire to “protect Islam” and women like me from the harshness of men like Sohail who post pictures on facebook and call a terrorist a terrorist. While these two have declined to attend our events for reasons known only to them, they have no qualms about making general statements about what they think is happening, or what they think we do – none of which sadly is even close to what we really do or believe. I’m sick and tired of people telling me not to air our dirty linen in public. Now listen carefully. The linen is no longer dirty – it’s drenched in blood!
However these same losers don’t show a burning passion to speak out when Christians and Shias are massacred in Pakistan; when women are violated in Egypt or sold as fodder in Syria; when extremists run away with our faith and spout hatred and bigotry against the ‘other’ or when a terrorist plot is uncovered in Canada – all this is digested quietly. This is a sample of our silent majority and why we have to do what we do transparently and openly.
Secondly, it was healthy to vent.
Whats The Fact?