Online trolls and evil Muslims

The other day was a first for me. I had my first ‘trolling’ (not sure if that’s the right phrase as I’m not very clued up on trolls). But basically I was on the receiving end of a slightly angry comment on Instagram, after posting a #freepalestine image on my account, with an accompanying message about it not being about religion, but about humanity.
You can’t escape the news and the horrific, heartbreaking plight of Gaza. Children are being bombed on beaches, as are men innocently watching the World Cup, not to mention the thousands being injured, homeless or displaced.
Now I’m not going to go into the politics of it all. You can read up on the Palestine / Israel saga in countless articles, as well as some slightly biased reports on the news (I encourage you to do your own homework on this if you haven’t already, and look at the history behind the conflict. Don’t just rely on the TV).
Plus, there are also more learned people than me out there who can fill you in on why Gaza has got to where it is.
But as a human being feeling slightly helpless about a situation where so many innocent people – including children – are dying, I did the little I could – spread the message for peace through the social media channels I have.  A modern, watered-down version of the traditional protest.
I wasn’t even going to post anything on this blog, as it seemed a little out of step with my usual articles which revolve around some experimental recipes and makeup reviews.
However, this is less about the conflict itself and which side of the fence I sit on, but more about the scary new world where people say what they want, hidden behind the anonymity of an online username.

Online trolls – the new bullies

So after posting said Instagram, amid the likes, I received a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it angry comment, along the lines of ‘Israel needs to protect itself from you evil Muslims!’
Then, before I had a chance to clock the angry commentator, it was deleted right before my very eyes, as if it had never been there.
So what was the point? It was as if the person wanted to assert themselves, but was too scared to stick by their comment.
Rihanna and Selena Gomez can sympathise no doubt, as they’ve been trolled to hell after posting similar #freepalestine messages. This resulted in unfollows and some abuse to boot.
So it seems that the bullying call for silence and submission exists in the western world too.

New depths of Islam-phobia

But the shocking thing for me about my troll was the reference to ‘evil Muslims’. This shows the depth and breadth that Islam-phobia has reached.
People only know what they see, and clearly they’re being shown and fed some pretty disparaging messages if that’s the feeling they’re left with when it comes to Muslims.  And of course, our beloved media has the biggest part to play in this misinterpretation.
I recently read an article about how a hijab-wearing lady in Bristol was spat at and abused in the street.  The man muttered something about Gaza and the middle-east, and the lady went on to report that every time there is a conflict in the world, be it 9/11, 7/7 or the current sorry situation, she would face renewed aggression from the public.
Now, with these stories, I always scroll down to the comments, to see what the general feedback is (I do it when browsing the Daily Mail Online too, it’s a real guilty pleasure of mine).
And, somewhat unsurprisingly, one commentator used the opportunity to enforce his/her particular view of Muslims.  The commentator started by saying how disgusting the attack was, but then went on to say how the lady’s own Muslim community are much worse, with women being abused regularly, suffering from FGM (female genital mutilation) and even being stoned to death.  The commentator then asked the lady why she didn’t mind that form of abuse.
I mean, seriously, WTF? There’s going off on a tangent and just being completely ignorant and practically racist.
So this poor woman shares her plight at the hands of some racist lowlife, and then gets attacked online by another who assumed by virtue of her hijab that she is pro-female oppression and an FGM enthusiast!

Bad news is all news

Yet you almost can’t blame the misguided souls who spout such vitriol.  For them, it’s the only Islam they know.  I don’t know a single woman who would be up for a beating, yet sadly, honour killings make great headlines, so those are the only stories we get to hear in the media when it comes to Muslims.  Oh, that and caste-based in-fighting and kidnapped schoolgirls.
No wonder I was referred to as an evil Muslim.
The other scary thing about my trolling is it shows just how brazen people become online. Ok so in the context, I’ve not been sworn at or asked to die, but nonetheless, the safety net of a computer screen obviously allowed someone to be far more vocal than they would be in real life. And say what they really think.
So, we’re all hating each other and getting the wrong impressions about our respective faiths.  The question I have is, where do we go from here?
As always, it’s good to hear your feedback and if you’ve ever been trolled, if/how you dealt with it.
HalimaBobs

About the Author

HalimaBobs

I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.

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