I am a woman on social media so I know trolls – I know how it works. Last week, I found the Urdu script beautiful and decided to use it for my Twitter handle name. I don’t know Urdu at all though. Being a politically active person on Twitter, I’ve seen my fair share of trolls, but this week it turned vicious.
I was quite appalled at the sexually graphic pictures and the expletives directed towards me – derisively labelling me a Muslim due to my new Twitter name. I realised the hate was not directed towards my tweets, but rather towards my assumed identity as Muslim. After having enough of it, I tweeted out saying that if you have a Muslim handle, you’re likely to attract abusive trolls but that I won’t let hate get the upper hand.
I will keep my Twitter name in the Urdu script.
Within hours, people started responding that they wanted to show solidarity with me against the hate and started changing their Twitter names to the Urdu script as well. Some started using the hashtag #MyNameInUrdu and what started as a show of support, snowballed into an avalanche. People started saying how they face discrimination everyday due to their religious identity and how they have accepted is as the new norm.
This is not what India or Indians stand for.
Sexually graphic abusive memes & being called sister or mother f*cker is what am subjected to in last few days bcos I’m using my “Hindu” name in Urdu. It doesn’t matter who you are,if your name is assumed to be a Muslim,you get the worst trolls
Not changing the name, FU trolls
— پر بھا (@deepsealioness) January 5, 2019
We all know hate exists, we all know this kind of targeted hate is not due to personal prejudices; it is created with malicious intent. People who post hate-messages against Muslim cab driver or food delivery agents are actually popular and have no regrets about showcasing their hatred.
While it is sad that most people have accepted to live with it, it is also encouraging to see so many people stand up against hate. Social changes come from within each of us, and I think the support was phenomenal because people want the hate to stop.
— پر بھا (@deepsealioness) January 7, 2019
— انمول | Anmol (@iamanmol_) January 7, 2019
— idul azharul hoque (@idulhoque) January 7, 2019
Changing my Twitter name was symbolic. It does not glorify one language at the behest of another. It’s a symbolic gesture against hate and bigotry. If one person has an Urdu name, hate can be targeted against him. But if everyone has it, how many can they target?
I personally find Urdu to be a beautiful language and am inspired to learn it. Not knowing the language but being thrown in the middle of this storm enabled me to reach out to people who could help – and help poured in all day and night. People who didn’t know each other began helping with translating names. There was an uplifting sense of solidarity, love and humanity.
This is not my movement, this is our movement. Together, as Indians, we are standing up against hate.
— Haider حیدر (@haider_talat) January 7, 2019
— Shehla Rashid شہلا رشید (@Shehla_Rashid) January 6, 2019
Thank you @deepsealioness for taking up this!
There are many more like me who at depth have love, respect and fascination for people, languages, food but don’t express it.
We need it.
We need to express!
Idea of INDIA needs it.
Love is defeating Hate.
— Divesh Garg | ڈیوش گار (@DiveshSpeaks) January 7, 2019
Some of the love which needs mention here is how some people changed their Twitter names to the Tamilian script to show solidarity with me, as I am Tamilian.
To reciprocate the beautiful gesture of @deepsealioness to write her name in Urdu, have written my name in Tamil. Let us celebrate the diversity and inclusivity that has symbolised the spirit of our great nation.
— பாபர் ஜெய்தி Babar Zaidi (@babarzaidiET) January 6, 2019
A Pakistani writer and reporter also changed her Twitter name to Hindi. The trend has been largely positive and full of love.
— سنندا (@YoursLegallyy) January 6, 2019
such a beautiful thing. we stereotype our hate in small but significant ways, & @YoursLegallyy, @deepsealioness & so many others in India have begun a movement to deflect the hate minorities face online, on to themselves. hope we can have a similar show of solidarity here ??? https://t.co/lNHJMvFgPD
— मेहर (@curlistani) January 6, 2019
Love is infectious and it conquers hate.
If a single tweet can start a storm of love, I am happy to have been the catalyst. What is more important is for people to learn to be sensitive towards fellow humans.
The stories of discrimination I’ve heard in the last two days are heart-rending. What is worse is being completely oblivious to it, because we never have and never will face it.
— debbie (@sumtweets08) January 7, 2019
— مالاو/ मालव /malav (@Kafirfakir) January 7, 2019
Prabha Raj is an intersectional feminist who is strongly opinionated. A start-up enthusiast with a passion for social justice, she believes that love can conquer hate, one heart at a time and tweets as @deepsealioness.