STOP being a bystander when witnessing any form of interfaith and religious hate speech.

I refuse to be a Bystander.

I was 12. My best friend belonged to a different religious sect than mine. My parents, doctors, well-educated, did not want me to go over to her place. "Why?" I used to ask. Because she is a Shia, they are different. Period! That was all I used to get out of them. When I grew older, they used to say “wo alag hain, unkay khayal alag hain, wo to Muslman hi nai”  Without realizing it, they were feeding my naïve mind with preconceived notions and stereotyped Shias for me as being DIFFERENT.

So many people like me have experienced hate speech in one form or the other. The worst thing is that like me, many don’t even realize that they are a part of it. Racial slurs like calling Christians “choora” or Shias “non-Muslims” and not sitting down to eat with them has become so common that we don’t realize it. Hate Speech is very prevalent in Pakistan. Many crimes are directly related to hate speech. Many crimes have roots that can be traced to hate speech against a particular sect. A few years ago, a renowned doctor Professor Doctor Syed Ali Haider was shot along with his 12-year old son in broad daylight ONLY because he was a Shia. Due to this spreading of interfaith hate, we see that many are also taken away and remain missing persons.

You must now be thinking about how all this is related to you, right? Take out a moment and sit down to think if you have EVER heard or seen anything like this? Did you speak up? We are all guilty of the bystander effect. Many times we do realize what is going around us is not right, but we tend to go with the flow. If no one is speaking, why should I? What if my friends or people around me think I am favouring the other sect and they turn against me? It’s time to wake up, Baydaar hon.

It’s high time we end the bystander effect. It’s high time we play our part to stop hate speech. We think that by ignoring or being silent we can diffuse the situation. This is not right. It is important to realize that not negating or speaking up against something gives the impression that you are agreeing to it. Without knowing, you enable or become a part of the hate speech. As a well known and popular statement that your thoughts become your speech and your speech become your actions, similarly, hate speech that isn't questioned or stopped then turns into hate crimes. We need to wake up to better every corner, every city, every town and every village of our nation and stop such behaviour and eventually crimes. 

The best thing is that it is never too late. Bol k lab azad hain! Pledge that you won’t keep quiet. You will NOT be directly or indirectly involved in anything that comes near to being hate speech. It can be something as little as not forwarding that text message which makes fun of someone or shutting someone up when they talk negatively about a specific sect. Doing rightful research, educating yourself on how to help others in such unpleasant situations and shunning hate speech by spreading humanity, love and unity in Pakistan. See, how easy it is to become a Savenger (superhero that saves people from facing religious hate-speech ) not a bystander? A little step from your side can help save Pakistan from this deep-rooted hate and divide!

Qatra Qatra samandur benta hai! Promise yourself that you will take no more. A little effort on your part can be the drop that brings huge ripples in the ocean! So promise yourself today that you will not be a bystander anymore. I made that pledge years ago, Main #baydoorHo… Kia tum ho?


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