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Zaira Wasim quotes Quran, creates storm

Zaira Wasim quotes Quran, creates storm
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Zaira Waseem’s Quran quote got her trolled, targeting her identity as a woman, Muslim and specifically a Kashmiri

Ghazala Ahmad

Zaira Wasim is again caught in a spat – this time for sharing a verse from the Quran. The young former Bollywood actress from Kashmir even had to deactivate her Twitter and Instagram accounts after she faced a backlash from social media trolls for quoting a Quranic verse.

The tweet from last Wednesday read: “So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood: Signs openly self-explained: but they were steeped in arrogance – a people given to sin” -Qur’an 7:133

Zaira shared a video clip of the recitation of the verse on her Facebook account as well. Soon after, she started receiving hateful comments. The trolls misinterpreted it and called her ‘insensitive’ and ‘extremist’. What gave the trolls an opportunity to hound her has a background.

With India grappling with the ongoing crises of the COVID pandemic, the country is hit by yet another serious problem. Since December last year, swarms of locusts have been destroying crops all over East Africa and now they have arrived in India recently, concerning the farmers and the government.

This has been a subject of debate for some days. An Indian TV anchor, notorious for his noisy shows, recently claimed that the locusts have been ‘sent by Pakistan’ to his country as a ploy to damage the crops and cause her an economic loss. The trolls took Zaira’s locust reference as a hint to calling the affected as ‘a people given to sin’.

Though many Indians wrote about the problem on social media quoting different religious texts like Bible, Hindu mythologies, and Sanskrit poems but Zaira Waseem’s Quran quote got her trolled, targeting her identity as a woman, Muslim and specifically a Kashmiri.

An Indian Army major turned TV host, Gaurav Arya, called Zaira as ‘poetic and misty-eyed’. He wrote: “Locusts are in the wrong country which is why @ZairaWasimmm is getting all poetic and misty-eyed. Had the locusts been in China, the Chinese would be thanking God for sending them dinner. And after eating, they would have quoted Confucius. It’s all about geography”

This comes close on the heels of China entering the Indian administered areas in Ladakh and the Indian media and government, alike, not so noisy about it as usual.

Another user, Vikas Saraswat, a columnist at Swarajya and Dainik Jagran, targeting her wrote: “If one wonders how a millennial who was offered an opportunity in uber cosmopolitanism, end up with so much hate and bigotry, she is mentioning the source also”.

Sanjukta Basu, a Twitter user pursuing her doctorate on gender trolling according to her bio, condemned the quotation of religious text as giving ‘irrational unscientific meaning to the natural phenomenon’.

It is not for the first time Zaira has been targeted for expressing her opinions. She has faced criticism and hate on Twitter earlier as well when she announced her decision to bid goodbye to the Indian film industry as it ‘interfered with her faith and religion’. Zaira left the Indian film industry in June last year after a short-yet-successful career.

The story has a flip side as well. Many supporters of Zaira were quick enough to voice their views in her support. Many of them believe that ‘trolls can’t see a young Muslim successful woman taking her own decisions and speaking her heart out’. They believe that their obsession to target a Muslim for expressing religious faith is Islamophobic in nature.

Irena Akbar, a Muslim entrepreneur and a former Indian Express correspondent, backing Zaira Waseem, tweeted: “So they trolled #ZairaWasim for quoting a verse about locusts from the Quran. They still can’t get over a successful Muslim girl quitting acting to focus on Islam. Their problem is Islam. Their bigger problem is a Muslim Woman (whom they pretend to save) loving Islam publicly”.

Another user, Adnan Altaf, wrote: “One same country. Two different tweets. Two different stories. The first tweet was supported by sanghis and bakhts because it said of killing innocent people and the other tweet was called Anti-India because it was just a verse from the Qur’an.”

The tweet was making a comparison between Zaira’s tweet and that of a retired Indian army officer calling for ‘carpet bombing the entire area of Handwara’ and ‘sending the civilians back to the Stone Age’.

Another tweet from the same user read: “Zaira Wasim posted a verse of the Qur’an [Surah Al-A’raf, 7:133] on Twitter and she got trolled and bashed by the bakhts and sanghis for doing so. Some people are so much intolerant and they give everyone the signs of being an Islamophobe.

Dilnawaz Hussain wrote: “#Sanghis trolled Zaira Wasim just because she quoted a verse of Quran related to locusts. The silence of the “women emancipators” aka the feminists has exposed their #hypocricy and complicity in the aggression on women when she’s a Muslim.”

A young Kashmiri journalist, Quratulain Rehbar, went on to explain the whole verse Zaira quoted in a full thread and showed her support for her. She wrote: “… And Sanghis started trolling her to the extent that she [Zaira] finally deleted her social media accounts. They always want to find a reason to harass her for they hate her even more for the religion she follows…”

The rumors about Zaira leaving the social media forever after deleting her accounts, however, aren’t true. She hasn’t even deleted the tweet that stoked the noise as many were led to believe. She had just deactivated her accounts and is back now

In her latest tweet in response to a question as to ‘why did she deactivate her account’ she wrote: “Because I’m just a human, like everyone else, who’s allowed to take a break from everything whenever the noise inside my head or around me reaches its peak.”

She ended the tweet with a smiley indicating how happily she stands by her words while leaving her trolls in fury. “If the truth shall kill them, let them die,” reads her bio.


Ghazala Ahmad is a journalism student at Aligarh Muslim University and former cabinet member of AMU Students Union.


Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.

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