The sight of white men in suits applauding and gushing at Malala Yusufzai’s speech at the United Nations, the gushing media frenzy and vociferous support on social media was nauseating for me, writes Sofia Ahmed.
Not because I deny Malala the right to campaign for what she does. It was more due to the sickening double-standards at play and the thought that while she was being lauded hundreds of other Muslim girls were being blown up, raped and bombed into oblivion because of those very men sitting with her that day. Not to mention those very audiences whose tax money is used to fund these campaigns of terror.
So it was refreshing to see that there were some commentators out there who have the moral courage to look beyond the PR stunts and tactics and analyse the deeper motivations behind this entire charade. However, there does seem to be a systematic attempt at stifling debate on this matter, with stooges of the West trying to use petty tactics, straw man arguments and accusations of “jealousy” in order to curb diversity of opinion.
One comment piece that struck me as particularly nefarious was Tehmina Kazi’s (British Muslims For Secular Democracy) for the Huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tehmina-kazi/malala-yousafza-defending-her_b_3623514.html). It was the most self righteous and sanctimonious load of drivel I have ever had the misfortune to read.
I knew before I even began to read it that essentially it was not a defence of Malala at all – it was quite obviously a thinly-veiled attempt to degrade those who refuse to fall into line and stand in defence of Western imperialism and those who help to impose a universal liberal agenda. None of the critics of Malala Day were critical of Malala, they were critical of the way in which she was used by those around her.
By implying that her article is in defence of Malala, Kazi is doing exactly what critics accuse the West of doing – appropriating Malala’s struggle and campaign in order to push their own hidden agendas.
The biggest flaw in Tehmina’s article lies in the crux of her argument, that all the people who have voiced their opposing opinions are merely jealous and bitter. She fails to address any of the arguments posed in pieces such as this one by Assed Baig (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/assed-baig/malala-yousafzai-white-saviour_b_3592165.html), nor is there any real analysis of the criticisms that were posed.
She overlooks the reason why Malala is in the position she is in the first place. Nobody is denying that there were problems in Afghanistan and the border regions with Pakistan, but no one with an ounce of credibility can say that things are better for the people who live there since the West began its feminist crusade.
Human rights groups and NGO’s have consistently been highlighting that the plight of women is much worse since the 2001 invasion. However, Kazi does not want people to think of all that, we should put those kind of tricky questions to the back of our heads because they are inconvenient, an irritation. She would rather reduce the entire debate to something expected from a teenage school girl, full of ridiculous accusations and baseless emotional drivel.
She also conveniently forgets to mention that the Pakistani Taliban are a direct result of the war in Afghanistan. They are there terrorising women like Malala due to a much deeper and complex reason – the ongoing Western occupation of Afghanistan. But Tehmina and her ilk would rather stay quiet about that, preferring us mere mortals to passively and silently watch, listen and absorb the propaganda that they throw at us.
And she fails to mention another woman of Pakistani citizenship who the Pakistani government handed over to the West to “look after”. Nothing is more indicative of the personality politics and war propaganda that are at play, than the differences between Aafia Saddiqui and Malala Yusufzai.
One is lauded worldwide as a bastion of hope, patted on the back and becomes an overnight cultural icon while the other was sold to the highest bidders in order to be raped, tortured and kept in a metal cage by those very people who Kazi would have us believe are the biggest supporters and helpers of Muslim women.
Shutting down debate
When I tried to offer my comments and criticisms of Tehmina’s piece on the Facebook Page for BMSD, those great bastions of all things “liberal” and “democratic” chose to censor me and curb my fundamental right of freedom of speech by removing my comments and blocking me from the page within minutes of my first post. Kazi also went on to personally contact at least one news outlet in order to ask them not to print anything I submit.
I am not surprised by Tehmina’s tactics and attempts at shutting down debate. Ordinary Muslims who may have alternative views have been progressively marginalised and shouted down by these purveyors of a particular brand of Islam tinged with a Eurocentric fundamentalism.
Tehmina and her ilk have one goal, and that is providing ideological support to the advancement of colonial interests and Western tyranny. Her article is not about the defence of Malala, it is about defending the privileges and opportunities of the elite. It is about shouting down dissent and trying to gag those that want to widen the debate.
The fact that she dismisses other commentators in such a manner and then has the audacity to pose as some sort of moral authority and defender of Malala’s honour is laughable. Her article ends by suggesting that “critics get off their backsides and do something constructive for humanity”. How ironic that is what she and her ilk are the most afraid off.
This Article was published on The Huffington Post