This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Susmita A.. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Has #illridewithyou For Fellow Muslims Overshadowed the Real Issues In Australia?

More from Susmita A.

By Susmita Abani:

On Monday, Sydney-siders were confronted with a threat they had never witnessed in their lifetime. In a suspenseful, 16 hour ordeal in the heart of our CBD at Martin Place, a lone gunman held 17 hostages inside Lindt Cafe. Police forces surrounded the area till early morning, ending the siege with the devastating deaths of two hostages and the assailant himself. Sydney had been robbed of its integrity, and it will be difficult to recover from the fear of stepping back into the lively city that has always been a focal point of our most treasured moments.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Man Haron Monis, the person behind the incident, turned out to be a known criminal, a self-styled Iranian Sheikh. As Muslim Australians braced themselves for backlash against their community as a result of what appeared to be another attack by a Muslim on the West, an incredible campaign emerged from the tragedy that restored their hopes in humanity. The “illridewithyou” hashtag spread through social network, inspiring ordinary Australians to offer support to Sydney Muslims who now dreaded travelling alone. Our conservative PM, Tony Abbot was also impressively tactful throughout the affair, maintaining the view that the actions of an individual madman were not a reflection of any religious group.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike jumped all over the #illridewithyou bandwagon, and news of the hashtag’s success was as prominent as the siege itself. #illridewithyou had overshadowed the real story, the real issues, and had become the mask of political correctness behind which the two sides were hiding their true faces, blurring the deep lines that separated their conflicting interests.

Everyone was too afraid to offend or to anger one another, while I racked my brain trying to figure out what had happened. Was it merely a failure of our judicial system, which had let a mentally unstable criminal slip through its cracks? Or was it the collective effect of geo-politics, religiosity, racism, society and an individual’s response to all of the above?

Let’s analyse premise 1- that religion, and the Muslim community, is not to blame for the folly of one man. From my own Islamic upbringing, I can testify this to be false. We are talking about a community that hurls death threats at cartoonists for drawing Prophet Muhammad, and at authors for penning blasphemous words. I’ve seen members of this community turn on friends who merely questioned their faith.

On September 19th 2014, Monis was interviewed in a Sydney suburb, in a rally of 400 men whose ultimate goal was to re-establish the Caliphate. Their outlook is not entirely unique. The Pew Research Centre report titled The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics & Society, outlined survey results from 39 countries that found “solid majorities” (greater than 40% and up to 99%) across the “Middle East and North Africa, sub Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favour the establishment of sharia” laws including severe corporal punishments for theft, stoning for adultery and death for apostasy.

ABC journalist Chris Uhlman asked our PM today if it’s really Islamaphobic to “notice that [Islam] is a religion that is resistant to criticism and scrutiny, that is utterly incapable of laughing at itself and when it is criticised the reaction often tends to be violent?”Are Australian Muslims really the victims here, or are some of them guilty for creating a culture of hostility toward un-Islamic opinions, thereby bolstering extremist mindsets?

And now for premise 2 – As our PM said this morning, Australia has done nothing wrong to deserve a terror attack. But between 2003 and 2011, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have tarnished relations between Middle East and the West. Brown University hosted the Cost of War project, estimating a total of 200,000 civilian deaths as of 2013, and these are conservative figures, with other studies citing far higher statistics. Australia continues to remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite the obvious injustices being committed by the Israeli occupation.

Yet Australia is devoid of fault?

In light of recent IS activities, Australia has renewed military operations in Iraq. It has tightened security legislations, including greater access to computer networks and increased liberty to officials for committing crimes during operations. Internet providers may soon begin to retain customer data for 2 years, and the act of “inciting” terrorism, whatever that means, can lead to 5 years detention. A vicious cycle seems imminent: from strengthening security laws to military intervention in the Middle East, followed by a terrorist response.

All of these factors, among many others, are building up to something potentially dangerous. I want both sides to meet in the middle, admit their own flaws, and look at the trail of disaster behind them. Both the Islamic world and the West need to take strides towards real moderation; examine the underlying issues without bias, and make honesty our policy.

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    Why didn’t anyone bring Christianity in the middle when President Clinton illegally occupied Iraq, imposed sanctions, and President Bush continued the oppression, killing a total of 2 million people, 500,000 of which were children? No one brought Christianity in the middle when President Obama pounded Pakistan with drones and killed thousands of innocent civilians, and terrorized hundreds of thousands of innocent people in North Warizistan. No one talked about Christianity when innocent civilians were horrendously tortured and raped in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, there was no mention of Christianity when the U.S. supplied Israel with 3 billion dollars in aid to kill innocent Palestinians, no one blamed Christianity for the U.S. led bloodshed in Iran, the bombing in Somalia, the slaughters in Libya, the butchering in Syria, and the list is endless. The U.S. government has killed millions of innocent Muslims since decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Panama, Somalia, among a host of other countries, but we mention Islam while talking about terrorism.

    1. tnk

      That is because the so called religion of peace has exterminated millions of people. And don’t get me started about forceful conversions and persecution of minorities in Islamic nations. At least the USA didn’t invade in the name of the mass delusion that is religion. The USA is guilty of blatant violations of human rights, yes, but Islam itself is hardly free from any guilt. It is a death cult built on the blood of innocents.

    2. Babar

      There are good and bad people in every society, and no religion is free of people who perpetrate violence, but that is limited to harming a few at best, and even then, no one brings religion in the middle. Compare that with the millions that the U.S. has slaughtered for money, oil, and power, and it is not a coincidence that the U.S. only invades Muslim countries. It is a strategic and systematic murder of people of a particular religion. U.S. is a racist apartheid state and the biggest only terrorist.

      http://youtu.be/Sj7VDMJZB_s

  2. Babar

    That is because the so called religion of peace has exterminated millions of people.

    Please enlighten me about the exterminated ‘millions’. Thanks in advance.

    1. Ramen Das

      “Please enlighten me about the exterminated ‘millions’. Thanks in advance.”

      Do you even read newspapers or only gather you knowledge through Madrasa discourses?

    2. sahil

      Well there are many instances of elimination. start with the almost non existence of christians in a pre dominantly christian middle east post 700 AD and then the forceful persecution of zoroastrians in Iran. In india there was a large scale killing of infidels from times of Ghazni, Ghori and Timur all documented by their very own chroniclers not American or RSS propaganda. Babur as well and he says that in the Baburnama. Then Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. In Europe the siege of Constantinople, the Invasion into Europe until it was stopped by Charles Martel. The Ottoman invasions into Europe until they lost in Vienna.

      This is historical and then in present times Pakistan’s proxy war against India. The dwindling population of the minorities in Pakistan.

      Babur people don’t have a problem with Muslims, the problem is they need to wake up and realize that they can’t say America bombed us and play victim all over the world. Terrorism and indoctrination is very much a problem only they can solve. But turning a blind eye and blaming everything on others is just not accepting hard facts.

      Politics and Islam are unfortunately intertwined in the religion and there is no solution but to de merge church and state and keep religion a personal thing. I know you will argue that all all the above are the examples of politically motivated campaigns but trust me since its inception the religion has been used politically and the structure of the religion allows it to be used in that way.

      Not accepting reforms and blaming people isn’t going to solve anything

    3. Babar

      Muslims have been massacred in India since as long as one can remember, and even today in anti-Muslim riots there are 3 Muslims killed for 1 Hindu – Violence against Muslims in India

      As for Christianity, here is an article by John Pigler:

      For centuries now, Christian nations have been busy beating up one Muslim nation or another. In the Middle Ages they came as crusaders. Then they colonized many Muslim countries and tried to destroy their cultures and religion. During their struggle for independence some Muslims had to suffer terrible violence. The French killed about a million Muslims in Algeria because they wanted independence. In Lebanon, when Christians were in the majority there was war, but when Muslims became the majority there was peace except in the South of the country where Christians helped a foreign enemy against their own countrymen.

      What will the Christian be if the tables were turned and their lands were first colonized by Muslims and then bombed or maligned or ethnically cleansed? If the past is any guide, the answer is clear: There will be a vicious reaction and given the chance an attempt at almost total destruction of the Muslims. For in Spain Muslims lived for about 850 years as rulers. They lived with Jews and Christians for the most part in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation in promoting science and culture to the point that their work prepared for the modern scientific revolution with all its benefits for mankind. But the moment Muslims became weaker, the hate in the Christian heart came out with a vengeance. Muslims were either killed, converted, or forced to leave Spain and their heritage was as fully destroyed as was humanly possible. Before Palestine and Kosovo, there was Spain.

      Above, I have mentioned only what the Christian nations have been doing or are doing to the Muslims. But when we look at what they have done to each other or to other people any validity in their claim of being people of love and peace vanishes. The horrible treatment of the heretics and witches in the Middle Ages probably inspired the tyrants of later centuries. The native peoples of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand bear a tragic witness to what Christian nations can do to other nations and with the blessings and assistance of Christian churches. In this century alone the Western nations have fought two world wars with tens of millions dead and untold misery for the living. For each victory in these two wars the church bells rang in the victorious countries

    4. Voice of reason

      @Babar, you ridiculous bigot, how can you forget partition, the number of Hindus killed were much much larger then the number of muslims, It is because of India and its politics that we were declared Secular, look at Pakistan, all the hindus who were settled in current Pakistan, majority of them were slaughtered like animals. You pseudo intellectuals only know how to blame one side.May be Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, that is politics, what was the fault of the HINDU KASHMIRI PANDITS who were living in kashmir for centuries, why were millions of kashmiris killed and millions displaced, what wrong did they ever do to you, and you talk about violence against muslims, my retarded friend, violence begets violence, you started and now others are retaliating. You talk of crusades, what about the mughal rule in India, those castrated bastards insulted hinduism and also forced conversions but that will never feature in your comments. The countless riots in north east where Hindus were mercilessly killed will never feature in your comment. Yes America is a enemy to humanity, they have singularly destroyed many countries, but having said that, in the current global scenario Muslims and their affiliated terrorist organisations ( not Islam as a religion) are definitely the biggest threat to humanity

    5. Babar

      You can’t write two sentences without abusing, a trait of feminists. I will leave you to watch the above posted video, as you don’t deserve a conversation.

More from Susmita A.

Similar Posts

By Raj Iyre

By Yash Johri

By Abhinandan Kaul

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below