‘As Muslims, we are always asked to justify ourselves,’ says Ladeeda Farzana

Hyderabad: Ladeeda Farzana and Aysha Renna are unfazed at the hate campaigns unleashed against them on social media. As right-wing trolls go overboard on Twitter and Facebook, bringing up their old social media posts, the two Jamia students opine that it doesn’t affect them one bit.

Several Twitter handles and media portals, mostly aligned to the right-wing, questioned the credentials of the two students of Jamia Millia Islamia University. Scanning through their Facebook walls, certain social media handles had taken up Aysha Renna’s post on Yakub Memon’s hanging, and Ladeeda’s post. Taking terms like Jihad and Yakub Memon out of context, the handles have spun them into propaganda against the protesting students.

Commenting on the hate campaign, Ladeeda Farzana said, “We don’t have to keep justifying ourselves about Yakub Memon, because we have clearly stated our opinions then. Is it because we are Muslim that we have to justify our positions repeatedly? Another important fact is that several activists, lawyers, professors had condemned Yakub Memon’s killing at that time. So, consciously targeting such people is how these fascists operate.”

Ladeeda notes that it is fascinating how people see them. She says, “‘The Muslim girl who you made into an icon does not believe in secularism’. A yes-or-no answer is what they want to hear from me. They want to give that headline and frame it in a different angle. It is what the mainstream wants to hear from us. The truth is that they don’t want to understand us in the first place,” said the 22-year old Jamia student, who hails from Kerala.

With people going over her online accounts with a fine-teeth comb has its effects. However, Ladeeda stands firm. “Thanks to this constant trolling, I can’t even open my brand-new Facebook account. It looks like my account has been reported a lot, and now I have to do some verification to reaccess it,” she added.

Aysha Renna, a history student from Jamia, opines that everyone is entitled to their opinion as per the Indian Constitution, even in a virtual space such as Facebook. “Students like us can give a different perspective on issues like this. However, the BJP’s IT cell works only to insult people who stand for the truth. We are openly against the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. They target us in the hope that our protests will fizzle out with such smear campaigns, but this movement has turned pan-India. There is no going back now,” she added with a firm determination.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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