Instead of indulging her trolls, one Muslim woman has pledged to give $1 to UNICEF for every hateful message she receives on Twitter.
Susan Carland, an academic lecturer from Australia, has donated more than $1,000 in Australian money to the United Nations' children’s charity since she made the promise two weeks ago.
“I regularly get tweets and Facebook messages from the brave freedom-fighters behind determinedly anonymous accounts telling me that, as a Muslim woman, I love oppression, murder, war, and sexism,” she writes in an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald. “And so the idea of donating $1 to UNICEF for every hate-filled tweet I received came to me.”
The children that UNICEF helps, she explains, are the perfect beneficiaries for her cause because their troubles are the direct consequence of hate – “war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence.”
Dr. Carland teaches in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. The wife of a famous talk-show host, she has been dubbed “one half of Australia's Muslim power couple.” She uses Twitter to share to 9,000-some followers her outlooks on society, religion, and politics.
But her haters don’t care about what she has to say, she writes. According to the Herald, most of her trolls are men. Muslims in general, she told the paper, receive a lot of hate online. But to be a Muslim woman, especially an “unapologetic” one, it’s even worse.
“Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time.”
According to a Gallup poll using data from 2008 and 2009, nearly 60 percent of all Muslim societies believe that Muslims in Western countries such as the United States and Britain are not treated as equal citizens. A significant portion of American citizens agree – nearly half of Americans from major religious groups believe that most Americans are prejudiced against Muslims.
In another survey published recently by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, more than 60 percent of Britain’s Muslims say they have been treated with suspicion by society. More than nine in every 10 Muslims reported having observed negative stereotypes of their religion and culture in the media.
Grappling with rampant discrimination, Caland sought inspiration from the Quran. Her answer, she writes, is to fight hatred with goodness.
“By refusing to let the hate of others mould me, I am more secure and relaxed in my own identity than ever. Their hatred of what they believe Muslims are has encouraged me to recommit to the beauty of my tradition.”
So far, she has been able to inspire others to donate as well. UNICEF Australia has even acknowledged her support.
“Thanks for your support,” the nonprofit tweeted Thursday. “You’ve turned hate into something wonderful: education, health care and protection for kids.”