Just watching the protest telecast from across the country is so selfishly reassuring. I know that a lot of people, entirely unrelated to each other, felt the pain of a 16-year old being lynched to death. But I feared that it’ll subside and dissolve in the loud noise of a series of debates and social media hashtags. This being translated into a protest by people across cities speaks. Speaks louder than the TRP-driven television debates.
To all those who went out there to protest on #NotinMyName, a very heartfelt Thank you. This means a lot to me and many other Muslims who feel scared of what’s been happening for a while. And no, I have no shame in admitting that I did felt scared. The usual joy that Eid brings with itself was missing and was replaced with the uncomfortable silence and fear.
To those who did not go out (for various reason) but wanted to, I’m thankful to you as well. Your sense of solidarity and mere acknowledgment that whatever is happening in the name of mob lynchings isn’t right, gives us hope. Hence, thank you.
It would mean a lot if this movement brings at least a little dent to the non-sporadic cycle of violence, but this isn’t easy and I’d be a fool to wish for a quick-fix to the divide among communities. This division is not new and has exploded from time to time. However, the institutional support and legitimacy to the violence were not so visibly lent by the administration in such a large scale (and for such elongated length of time) as is evident now.
I’ve constantly asked myself as to where this hate comes from? How different would be the teaching in someone else’s home than mine? Distinctions at my home stopped at ‘how we should greet people’. A namaste to a hello to a salam. We’d happily mix it up to say ‘Salam’ to a very dear Sitamma Nani at my Ammi’s hometown and say Namaste to an Anglo-Indian Fernandes Dada when he’d come over to meet his friend (my dada). And each of them would happily reply back with a big smile on their face.
I’m afraid every time my little brother goes out of Jamshedpur or when my father wanted to visit Surat in Gujarat sometime back. Both of them sport a beard and place a skull cap; along with the traditional kurta pyjama. I don’t want to fear this. I want everyone to travel as much as I do, but I cannot get over the fear that it entails. This fear only manifolds itself even more with every lynching incident. There have been 18 so far in the last 22 months!
Understandably, many protests like this #NotInMyName or the Black band protest on Eid might seem like the liberal show-off, but to a Scared Muslims like me, this gives us hope that we are not alone.
Thank you again to all those who went out and to those who supported them.