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Muslim kids are being increasingly bullied in today’s political climate, and this is worrying their parents. Nazia Erum speaks about it.
The air feels different since the past few weeks and it’s not a good feeling. Every WhatsApp message, primetime debate, and every conversation is around just one thing; War. Every evening TV news channels scream revenge while we’re all comfortably seated in the drawing room of our well protected homes. Even kids and teenagers talk casually about war as if it is something we can launch like a video game, without realising the gravity of it.
Unfortunately, all this has led to something even more serious.
Kids as young as 5 are being bullied for their religion, called names like ‘Baghdadi’, Mulla’, and even told to “Go to Pakistan”. This has become a great worry for their parents, and it could create a psychological impact on the children and affect them at a very impressionable age. Both, the bullies and the bullied are at risk here, and these mindsets get crystallised over time and further the divide.
Nazia Erum author of the book Mothering a Muslim has written about the impact of this hate mongering in children, who are affected by the casual, nonchalant attitude with which the hate is spewed through jokes, jibes and all else. A communications professional, an author, and a mother, Nazia wanted to explore some of these questions about what is it means to be growing up Muslim in India today.
In this episode of Truth Bombs, she speaks about what life is like for an urban Indian Muslim today, and the concern of parents.
Just like a child cannot choose its gender or its family, it can’t choose its religion either. Despite being the biggest democracy in the world and having the largest multicultural population, somewhere the idea of secularism is diminishing. We often don’t realize that religion, caste, are all man made concepts which were created for vested interests.
The onus, Nazia says, lies on us. “Kids are so sharp, that they’re picking up all these nuanced names and make sure that they bully others,” she says. “It is very important what kind of stories are we telling them. The bullying also changes with time. It shows us that what they hear and what they see influences them. In fact, I found that a lot of kids were called Pakistani if they come from well-to-do families. If you don’t come from well-to-do families, you’re called a Bangladeshi.”
Other than the screaming news channels, Bollywood is a great influence, and what we see there colours the world view of kids too. “I remember in the beginning it was like, either the person would always tell the truth or will always be reciting the shayari. Today, it has changed to the person who would be the terrorist or the checkered scarf-wearing Muslim. The stereotyping is always there,” she adds.
Nazia suggests that conversation is key in empowering the children. The bullying in schools can have a great impact on one’s self esteem. This could affect children for a long term and so having an open dialogue will help. Not just for the Muslim parents but in fact non–Muslim parents too must definitely talk to their wards against this.
“I think talking about it is the first step to acknowledge it. Once we acknowledge the problem, then we can look to change,” she concludes.
So, are we listening?
Image source: Flickr & YouTube
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