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To do justice by Asifa would be to recognize that in her tragedy lies the story of thousands of women and girls in Kashmir who have experienced the same crimes fueled by the same ideologies.

[CW/TW: mention of r/pe or sexual assault, and murder.] By Manaal Farooqi When news of an abduction, rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in India broke loose earlier this month, the response was polarizing within the nation and amongst its diaspora. Asifa Bano was sexually assaulted for days then murdered by several men, also happened to be a Muslim Kashmiri in Indian occupied Kashmir. The Hindu men who tortured and murdered Asifa were found and arrested, but have received sympathies and demonstrations for their release from Hindu nationalists across the country. The men allegedly committed the crime to drive away Asifa’s family and community, the nomadic Bakarwal tribe members. The injustice has been framed as isolated from the overall occupation and atrocities that have been committed in the past decades in Kashmir, but the history of violence, sexual assault and more in the region has been an intrinsic part of this cycle of violence. Hindu nationalism has been on the rise since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, which is the political extension of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who are committed to creating a Hindu nationalist state. While these changes in government and policies have swept the nation since 2014, these issues have affected the people of Kashmir for far longer. Indian occupied Kashmir has dealt with clashes and insurgencies since 1965, at times with the help of the Pakistani state as well. In current times, the insurgency continues on a different scale with alternative tactics since 2017 — dubbed as the “year of the student uprising”— including mass protests and rallies. This particular generation has been raised in occupation for their entire lives and with the BJP in power they are experiencing the national shift with a deeper sense of estrangement from the state. With comments from both the BJP and Modi asking Kashmiri youth to choose between “tourism and terrorism”, the already established lack of faith in the state and government has deepened.

Why are we holding an 11-year-old more accountable for her tall tales than the President of the United States?

By Shadi Bozorg Recently an 11-year-old Canadian Muslim girl, who claimed to have her hijab cut off by a scissor-wielding male stranger, fabricated the story for reasons unknown. As expected, the world quickly turned against her. People’s responses on social media went from shock and sadness about a hate crime against an 11-year-old, to angrily condemning the child, even going as far as saying she should be charged with criminal offenses. Did she make an error? Yes, and she will have to live with it for the rest of her life. Her name and face have been published for the world to see, and public opinion convictions often come with dire consequences. Is she a child? Yes, and that’s what many people are forgetting. Why are we holding an 11-year-old more accountable for her tall tales than the President of the United States? According to the wise people of Twitter and Facebook, this is because she clearly had a hidden agenda. [TW/CW: The following tweets include islamophobia.] https://twitter.com/WhitesOpinion/status/954095054435573760 https://twitter.com/Wesmoms/status/953466683737374721 https://twitter.com/WarWithAgendas/status/953285895351947264 Accusations of her operating on behalf of a sinister organization, and her family being terrorists began to fill comment sections of national articles. After all, it’s widely understood that children never lie. No, children only speak factual truths and they never make mistakes. Yes, this specific 11-year-old must be linked to something deeper and darker. She doesn’t deserve to be treated like every other child, for she’s Muslim and there must be more to this than a kid thinking they’re getting away with a lie. Just for clarification, almost all children lie in some capacity, almost consistently. And if you’re thinking “mine doesn't’!” it’s because they are doing a good job of lying to you. This lie snowballed to the point of no control, going viral on social media and becoming national news in a matter of hours.  Being a child, this girl must have assumed she would just have to play along with it until it played out. Wrong? Absolutely. Evil? An Islamophobic reach. The hypocrisy of human beings is nothing new, but both of these reactions so perfectly showcase how fleeting empathy is in our society. When something bad happens in the trends it’s all “thoughts and prayers”, “this is tragic”, “let’s make this better.” Yet, once someone makes a mistake it’s “let’s ruin this person’s life forever using just the pads of our fingers.”  We are not rational or consistent in our responses, just reactionary.

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