She was trolled for writing her Hindu name in Urdu and using it as her Twitter handle. But it sparked off an unexpected movement, as many people expressed solidarity with her by doing exactly the same!!
Twitterati and intersectional feminist Prabha Raj, who is passionate about social issues, got severely trolled.
Prabha, who did this as she thinks the Urdu script is beautiful, says she didn’t expect it to become a movement. “I had a friend who changed my name into Urdu because I found the script fascinating. I don’t know Urdu at all and I can barely speak Hindi. So I used it as my handle name. For the next one week I got many explicit comments. Soon the abusive remarks directly accused me of being a Muslim who should go to Pakistan and not comment on issues,” recalls Prabha, who is politically active on Twitter.
A campaign to write one’s profile name in Urdu — the best example of unity against hate — is gaining momentum these days.
Prabha as always has been very vocal related to issues that concern the societal dynamics and this time around she chose to speak up on an issue of the age long bigotry against Hindu-Muslim
“Mine is clearly a Hindu name but it was written in Urdu and the hate towards me was because I was identified as a Muslim. So I tweeted saying I was done with hate. There has to be an end to this hate and bigotry, and I will not change my name. Within minutes, people expressed solidarity with me because they were also against hate, and they started changing their names,” Prabha shares.
It was clearly a case of her own frustration turning into a beautiful movement as more people joined. She offers, “I did not ask anyone to change names, not once. But it’s been four days now and people are still changing names. The next morning there were so many people in solidarity, and I told them please be in solidarity not with me, but against hate and bigotry, and use the hash tag to take it forward. So technically there was no campaign, it was an organic reaction from everyone which spiralled into a top twitter trend. It was so beautiful to see people coming in support voluntarily.”
Prabha believes people want to end prejudice, and her tweet served as a catalyst. She says, “Most people who joined me didn’t know Urdu, and Urdu speakers started helping people change their names, again an organic move. No one was asked to do anything; it took a beautiful form on its own. I also had several Urdu speakers change their name to Tamil to show solidarity with me in return. It was all about love for diversity.”
She also mentions how some Pakistani people or those with traditionally Urdu names added the Hindi version to their Twitter handles in a show of solidarity. “People writing names in Hindi did come as a surprise to me. I didn’t realise the trend went to Pakistan and they wanted to show their love to India. At the end of the day normal people have no reason to hate each other due to nationality, religion, gender, caste, language etc. So yes a beautiful thing to happen,” Prabha thinks.
Will the movement bring change? “Changing a name is symbolic. Like saying that if someone targets one person because of an Urdu name, if everyone has it, whom can they target? I think it has sparked the need to talk about it, but change comes from within every individual. If this can actually make people think that we all have prejudices, some so internalised that we don’t even realise they are there, it will be a start. I only want people to understand that they need to be sensitive and not hate. Humanity has to win, and from the response I think it already is starting to.”...