Rohingya crisis: Introspection time for Muslim social media campaigners

His Holiness the Dalai Lama playfully posing with Muslim leaders from Turtuk who came to meet him on the final day of his teachings in Disket, Nubra Valley, J&K, India on July 13, 2017. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor)

The latest round of expulsion of Rohingyas has taught the Muslim world an art to build up global public opinion against the government in Myanmar. Though Rohingyas have been thrown out of that country several times since early 1980s––true, the crackdown this time may be more widespread––yet never did the Muslim masses mobilized themselves so forcefully in social media as after August 25.

The United Nations has condemned the hunting down of Rohingyas so did other countries. Even India has to change its stand––although a little bit––within a week of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to
Naypyidaw, its capital.

But it is the time for introspection by Muslim community round the
world too. If the hue and cry raised by the common citizens on social
media can have impact on the global community why the same energy can not be utilized against the atrocities committed by their own rulers.

After all social media––as well as peaceful demonstrations––played
important roles in bringing down the then President Hosni Mubarak of
Egypt in 2011 and General Musharraf almost a decade back.

In the case of Rohingyas, global Muslims––as well as other champions
of the human rights––spread the message successfully. At this point of
time it is difficult to say whether these efforts would bring about a
lasting solution and force Myanmar to take back refugees. But at least
the international humanitarian organizations responded quickly. Even
rulers of some Muslim countries woke up from deep slumber due to the campaign.

But the plight of Rohingyas and the subsequent campaign provided an
opportunity for some plain speaking.

No doubt using social media and holding public rallies are democratic
rights of citizens everywhere in the world. But sometimes they are
misused. Some fantastic stories started appearing in the social media
in the name of awaking people about the Rohingyas. Some vested
interest started fishing in the trouble water. Thus the whole effort
becomes counter-productive.

The more bitter fact which should be taken head on is: why the same
public opinion is not created by the Muslim netizens against the
refugees of North Africa (especially Libya), civil war –torn Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. The fact is that the mess in
all these countries has either been created by the world power or by
the Muslim rulers themselves.

Why have Muslims turned deaf, dumb and blind to the plight of
thousands of refugees fleeing their countries and getting drowned in
Mediterranean every year?

As if that was not enough Saudi rulers, for their own political end,
opened two new fronts––Yemen and Qatar. Though Qatar is a rich
country and has a few friends it somewhat survived the Saudi fury. But
what about war in Yemen, which has virtually been forgotten. The case
of Yemen and Qatar is different from those in Syria, Iraq, Libya etc.
as their rulers were till recently very good friends of royal families
in Riyadh.

Instead of solving the problems in Levant and North Africa, the
powerful Muslim countries started playing their own games.
If the rulers have their own interest in pitting one group to others
what should be the response of the common citizens? Is it that they
fear in calling spade a spade within their own country?

As the task is not easy, one does not expect Muslims to overthrow their
own corrupt tyrants. What one at least expects from them is their
voice against the blood-letting within the Muslim world.

How many times have we used social media for this purpose? In how many western capitals––where at least there is freedom and sizeable Muslim population–have the community members taken to streets for the larger cause of peace all over the world. Yes, they have done so on a few occasions – when Israel attacked Hamas or Palestinians.

There is a lesson for all of us from Dalai Lama who mustered courage to state that today Gautam Buddha would have helped Rohingya Muslims.

Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna.

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