As a Muslim People, we’re proprietal of our heroes. Proud. Oftimes, justifiably. We will sit in 2015 and talk about the contribution the Muslim World made to Science, Medicine, Mathematics in the 8th century as though we were personally responsible for these advances.
We don’t take kindly to these heroes being mocked, as the Daily Vox learnt when they ran that parody at Hashim Amla’s expense. Or as Zapiro learnt when he drew a cartoon depicting The Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
So when a new writer with a Muslim name was set to launch a novel at the Time of the Writer, ‘our people’ sat up and paid attention. Would ZP Dala turn out to be another gem in our 1400 year old crown?
Not if she claims Rushdie as a writer she considers admirable, clearly. She was quickly ‘put in her place’ by a few thugs, who, for the purpose of my soapbox moment, I shall assume to have been Muslim.
The Muslim community’s reaction to this affront to humanity by a few misguided morons was telling.
“A publicity stunt.”
“Picked up by the Western Media because they have an anti-Muslim agenda.”
Now, I ask my people this: Had Zainab Dala been a victim of a mugging, how would you, my Muslim brethren, have reacted?
Would you have decried this senseless act of violence against a defenceless Muslim woman?
Would you have denounced the lawlessness in our country?
Passed racist comments, because well, all thugs are black, right?
Yet, here was a Muslim woman subjected to violence because she had the temerity to express an unpopular view. And the perpetrators of this violence were Muslims, our own people. So instead of owning the grave injustice that was inflicted on a fellow Believer, we question her integrity as a human being?
I cannot imagine any writer fabricating an account of an attack, thereby missing out on the launch of her debut novel, in order to sell a few books!
At this point, I should clarify, my speaking out against what I see as a grave injustice, inflicted twice, is not because I am friends with Zainab Dala.
Or because I’ve read her book, and loved it. (See my comment in the previous post).
Or even because I too am a writer. (Writer’s support one another – the ‘even when they’re wrong’ - was implied, not stated in this particular bit of commentary).
We live in a society where, when a woman is raped , she is asked whether, perhaps, she might have brought it on herself.
Maybe she dressed too provocatively.
Maybe she was easy.
Maybe she said No but meant Yes.
Maybe she said Yes.
How far from this is our response to the attack on ZP Dala?
So, how do we fix it?
- · As a community, let’s own this injustice. Let us not rationalise, justify or excuse actions that are completely unacceptable.
- · Support the writer in this trying time. And no, buying her book just because we’re extending sympathy to her is not how we show our support. I’d hate to imagine someone supporting my work out of pity.
Let us not be of those who fail to stand up when an injustice is committed just because the perpetrators of the injustice are those we count as our own.