‘MY’ Law : Moral policing

Moral policing, sexism and religious intolerance are some very common yet extremely sensitive issues that are currently eating into the roots of our society, and with the advent of social media, this nuisance takes on to another level. Cricketer Mohammed Shami became the latest victim of religious extremism after he posted a picture of him with his wife on his official facebook page. The comments that his post garnered since then, are tasteless, to say the least.

Many Facebook users were quick to remind Shami of his religion, when he posted a photo of him with his wife on December 23 on his official Facebook page. His wife, HasinJahan was seen wearing a sleeveless gown. This was enough for some people to start bashing and abusing the cricketer, a Muslim, asking him to make sure that his wife covers herself up in a hijab.

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Most of the comments are directed towards the cricketer, asking him to make sure his wife doesn’t stray from the religious customs. People have also requested Shami, on behalf of the religion, to not set a bad example. While there were no dearth of such comments on his photos, on the bright side a bevvy of reasonable others decided to show their support to the cricketer by showing love instead.

. More often than not athletes and sportspersons are bashed and becomme a topic of controversy for their choices and actions. For instance, Sania Mirza, the darling tennis player of India, has always been a victim of such kind of intolerance. Sania has been subjected to a fatwa by a muslim cleric for wearing revealing outfits in the international tennis circuit. “The dress she wears on the tennis courts…leaves nothing to the imagination,” Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui told The Hindustan Times. “She will undoubtedly be a corrupting influence.” Similar fatwas have been issued against Mirza who was the first woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The problem with religious fanatics and not-so-closeted bigots is that they really don’t get the idea that they have no right to tell others how to lead their lives. It’s one thing to follow archaic guidelines and rules from your religion. It’s a whole other thing when you shame someone for not following the same.

Recently the Rio Olympics 2016 also witnessed the same spectacle. India’s official uniform for the opening ceremony, a yellow saree and a blazer on top, was not quite popular with the ladies. But as usual they didn’t have much say over the choice of their apparel for the same. The least they did was carry the blazer in their hands instead for the red carpet walk, and that certainly made a definitive style statement at the Rio Olympics.

It is downright pathetic that while we call ourselves a progressive nation, our women are still not allowed to even wear the apparel of their own choice. Every individual irrespective of the sex or religion has a certain set of rights as the citizen of this country, and exercising the freedom of choice is but one of them. Women today are going places, and don’t need men or anybody for that matter to tell them what to do and what not to. And it’s high time all the misogynists and fanatics hiding behind the veil of religion start to accept the modern day woman who embraces herself fiercely and unapologetically.

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Most organised religions are patriarchal and oppressive towards women. So, when on December 24, Shami posted a photo of himself with his wife on Facebook, he immediately became victim of a slew of attacks from ultra conservative Muslims, making lewd comments and criticising him for “allowing” his wife to dress up in a “revealing” (sleeveless) dress.

Of course, it is the men who think that they can tell women how to dress, or tell men how to dress their spouses. It’s years of conditioning, privilege and just sheer lunacy that has brought us to a day when we can see men shaming a cricketer by saying things like “Sharam karo sar aap ek muslim ho bibi ko parde me rakho (Be ashamed Sir, you’re a Muslim and you should keep your wife behind curtains)”.

 

The problem also extends beyond religion to a great degree, as it ultimately comes down to misogyny, men dictating women on what they are supposed to do. Whether it is conservative Muslims who make the women don burkas to supposedly protect them from the lustful eyes of men, or it is European nations not letting women wilfully follow their taditions by making burkinis illegal, it is always men who assume that they have a natural right, to tell women what to do, and in the escalating world that we live in, this misogyny demands to be curbed.

Thankfully, not all people who dwell the internet think that way. These comments received a lot of flak, not only from people of other religions (including Hindus who got a little too carried away with their hate, conveniently forgetting that their religion too oppresses women on what they should and should not wear), but also some liberal Muslims who condemned this sort of meddlesome behaviour.

“The hijab has never been a problem for me” said the Bahraini sprinter Ruqaya-Al-Ghasara who runs in a hijab, a full length muslim headscarf. She certainly made history for muslim women athletes, but again it’s the own choice of the athlete to wear or not wear a hijab while on field, and the world needs to respect that.

In an interview with Sportskeeda, badminton pro JwalaGutta said “The people passing such statements have an advantage, you know; they are hiding behind a mask, to make these comments. I’m quite sure in real life, they will never have the guts to come forward and tell me such things. In fact, they will refer to me as ‘JwalaMaam’ and even ask for a selfie or an autograph or something. Over time, I have realised that it’s become a sort of entertainment for people, where they make such comments to attract more attention or get more likes, without realising how sensitive it might be.”

Even Shami did not back down to such meaningless outrage. In another Facebook post, the cricketer said (referring to his wife and child), “Ye dono meri zindage or life partner hai me acha trha janta hu kiya karna hai kiya nahi. Hame apne andar dekhna chahiye ham kitne acche hai. (These two are my life and life partner. I know well enough what to do and what not to do. We all ought to mind our own business”). It was joyful to see the Muslim cricketer fiercely backing his wife and standing in support of her. Shami as a celebrity managed to set a right example for the masses to take a stand against misogyny and religious fanaticism. This, possibly, if everyone followed, would not make religion as bad as it presently is. But that’s wishful thinking.

 

These people question what you eat. They question what you wear. They question your caste, character, religion, language and what not.

For all these concerns, we also have one simple question for them.

WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO ASK ALL THESE QUESTIONS?

Spreading hatred and fanaticism won’t do any good to anybody, for a while we should try putting up a smile on somebody’s face instead. In this mind boggling era of social media our beliefs and opinions can reach the entire world within a fraction of seconds, it’s on us what we choose to spread, hatred or love, extremism or acceptance. The world is what we make it, remember, we always have a choice.

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