The Zombies Who Troll Malala Need To Be Exposed
Naya Daur recently had an incisive discussion with noted columnist and critic Nadeem Farooq Paracha (NFP) on the relentless criticisms of Malala. The key take away was that Malala bashing is prominent among middle class Pakistanis who are otherwise highly educated and/or who reside in western countries. A disturbing concern was raised that education in the Pakistani case has failed to facilitate tolerance and that the bigotry of overseas Pakistanis has only been cemented despite exposure to the world. NFP expressed that it was pointless to engage with such trolls, whose minds are impervious to reason.
NFP nails it! Indeed, the circus of Pakistani trolls started the day that Malala was shot. They vented conspiracy theories on whether she was shot, pointing out that her head was not shaved in the pictures. Keep in mind, such conspiracy theories are rife in Pakistan and are not restricted to Malala. Take for instance the theories around vaccines and how they make men infertile. People thrive on such conspiracy theories, currently as they relate to Bill Gates and intel chips. These theories are universal for there are many goras (white folks) who project similar inanities and brazenly flout mask rules.
However, in Pakistan, we have self-styled money milking motivational speakers who make it worse for the poor nation. Take for instance, the pains a real doctor like Dr. Muhammad Yaseen had to go through to dismantle the blatant claims of the smooth talking Arif Siddiqui on COVID vaccines. The former does not have much of a YouTube following, whereas the latter is a prolific media content maker.
It is therefore not devout Muslims who are opposed to Malala, as many of them are busy perfecting their character, performing their prayers, minding their own business and helping out humanity. Their Islam is overflowing and abundant. It is instead unthinking zombies formed from the concoction of exaggerated jingoism, a misguided anti-imperialist narrative, a deep-rooted inferiority complex, sexual frustrations, and a never-ending need of rigid “Islamic” rules to cleanse their shortcomings, that rails against Malala. This is a whole generation of men and women, who lashes out mindlessly against Malala, Ghamidi, Hoodbhoy or anyone else who pricks their conscience and pushes them to do better. And NFP is right, you cannot reason with them.
Yet, it is also true that if well-meaning and thinking Pakistanis do not push back at the narrative weaved by these zombies, they will continue to infect the upcoming generations of Pakistanis in their own putrid image. This means that just as Ghamidi has offered a counter narrative to that of the Taliban, thoughtful Pakistanis will have to engage in a constant task of weaning their youth away from the misguided outbursts of these zombies, who masquerade as the silly thaykedars (defenders) of Islam.
Returning to their Malala narrative, they keep engaging in “whataboutism.” This essentially refers to the tactic of deflecting to other issues. Consider for instance how Israeli politicians trump themselves as having the only democracy in the Middle East and having the most moral army, deflecting to the human rights violations of Arab countries when they are questioned on their human rights violations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. The same applies to the Pakistani zombies who troll Malala. Such folks keep deflecting from one inane issue to another. Yet time and again, the facts prove them wrong.
Consider their whataboutism circus, which started with the deflection that Malala was basking in the U.K., but Shazia and Kainat, also injured in the same dastardly incident, remained in Pakistan. The facts proved them wrong when both girls were accepted in the U.K. That did not assuage them, and they started the circus of propping up Waleed Khan. They hailed him as a real hero, who stayed in Pakistan. A few years ago, he too was accepted in the U.K.
Grown men in the prime of their lives, who should know better, kept deflecting to what had Malala done on drone attacks, Kashmir, Palestine, etc. Time and again, Malala owned them quietly and with dignity by donating to Gaza, speaking out on Syrian children, Kashmiris and the Rohingya Muslims. She wore her dupatta proudly to the White House to question Obama on drone attacks.
The same men, who pontificate from the comfort of their living rooms in western cities like San Francisco, Vancouver and London, who dared not raise their voice in the White House even if invited to the annual Eid dinners, started venting their frustrations on a young woman who was rendering their lives meaningless and ill spent. These men who bob their heads and genuflect before the white man, and who would bribe one official after another for their western visas in Pakistan, need to recognize who are they fooling with their loud touting of “Islam” and Malala bashing. Do they even understand the verses they are copy pasting through internet search engines? Or just like ISIS they pluck out verses without their head or tail to project their hateful case?
Their Qur’an and Hadith thumping reveals a lot about them than anything else. Indeed, the movie ‘The Stoning of Soraya M.” has a powerful quote from Hafez that reads: “Don’t act like the hypocrite, who thinks he can conceal his wiles while loudly quoting the Qur’an.”
These zombies, who in a different time would have stoned Soraya M. in Iran, are only stoning Malala on social media. Their entire discourse is highly unoriginal, as they unthinkingly borrow from the left, by using words like “neo-liberal” without an iota of its reference to capitalism, corporations and smaller governments. Indeed, Mufti Abu Layth exposed their lack of understanding, by showcasing how such people conflate an ideology that is about the role of governments and firms with sexual permissiveness and nudity. Such zombies may think by throwing such words they would sound “intelligent” or “educated” but again who are they fooling except themselves.
We cannot argue with zombies. But we can expose them for who they are, and this will happen when we wrest the social, cultural, and religious Pakistani discourse away from them. We cannot always be responding to their umpteenth whatbaoutism and instead start framing the discourse on our terrain. This means Pakistani writers, thinkers, bloggers, media content makers, would all have to creatively and constantly push against the shar (evil) of these zombies who masquerade as the thaykedars (defenders) of Islam.
May Pakistanis be successful in their endeavours to rid their beautiful nation of this zombie menace.
Malala Zindabad. Pakistan Paindabad.