Identity, Equality, Unity
I wasn’t going to celebrate or be happy this Eid. What does celebrating mean when all you see is a blood-soaked Ramadan in almost every corner of the world where the people who fasted live.
100+ dead in Syria almost each day, 39 Afghans killed in Zaranj by suicide bombers. 25 Shias dragged out of the bus and summarily executed in Pakistan. Burma, Assam, Iraq, you name it, it’s happening and it’s bloody and painful to hear, watch or write about.
This is probably the bloodiest Ramadan that I remember – not just by the numbers, but also by the extent of violence against Muslims – by Muslims, too. And I have gone through some bloody Ramadans in the past. On no occasion, though, was the pain of the suffering so acute.
Perhaps what really broke my heart was watching a video of a mob of hundreds of armed men burning buses in northwest Pakistan – their Shia passengers butchered. And the central focus of the video was an elderly man who was humiliatingly pushed around until someone lifted up his shirt and jersey to check his back for flagellation marks to see if he was Shia or not as the mob chanted, “Kafir, Kafir! Shia Kafir!”
That’s right after I interviewed another man in Bahrain who was beat up by four cops in front of his little girls – as they watched and cried. All for being a human rights activist.
And I’m not alone in my sadness. I’ve seen many others express their disdain about Eid in public or telling me in private how they feel like this auspicious occasion for them means nothing. I had the answer from my friends… No celebration!
This overwhelming sadness forced me to ask myself a different question: How about the ones who committed these acts? What would those criminals like me to do this Eid?
The answer is: exactly what I was planning to do! Not celebrate. Remain depressed. Feel hopeless. Tell people they shouldn’t celebrate either. That it was all too overbearing and simply too much!
As long as there are people documenting these crimes, writing about them, raising a voice about them, that information will force others to act and stop these crimes. The oppressors want us to become unwilling to embrace life so we’d be demoralized, weakened and silenced. Then, we’d leave them alone to do whatever they want with their victims – in the process, victimizing ourselves and stopping ourselves from being a minute, but still visible voice for the voiceless or acting for those who are under too much duress to defend themselves.
I’m personally not going to accept that.
I really do want to wallow in misery, drown in alcohol and remain isolated for the next three days. However, that is going to drastically reduce my ability to write. It will also have long-term effects that will make the quality and quantity of my work suffer for the next few weeks to maybe months. The only way I can stop that from happening is by being happy.
No, I’m not going to let them hurt people and hurt my soul, too. Torture people and torture my soul, too. Kill people and kill my soul, too. They deserve to be punished for their crimes – not me. And neither do you, azizem. I will shave, wear new clothes, hug my niece and nephew and shower them with kisses and join my family in being thankful for all that I have.
I implore you to join me in being happy. We can fight the good fight only if we remain able-bodied and mentally in-shape. Otherwise, the fight is over. The murderers and torturers win by forcing you and me to shut up and let them butcher people until we all bow down to their will.
So yes, I know it’s difficult to say, but Eid Mubarak!