A Muslim woman is turning the hostility of Internet trolls into a "force for good" -- one hate-filled tweet at a time.
Dr. Susan Carland, an Australian academic and well-known figure in the country’s Muslim community, said she’s become all too accustomed to the "stream of toxicity" that deluges her Twitter feed on a daily basis. As "an unapologetic Muslim woman, you get a lot of hate," she explained.
"I regularly get tweets and Facebook messages from the brave freedom-fighters behind determinedly anonymous accounts telling me that, as a Muslim woman, I love oppression, murder, war and sexism," Carland wrote in an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday. "Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time."
Carland tried myriad ways to deal with these trolls. She attempted to engage with them, block them or simply ignore them. But as a believer of Islam, these methods just haven’t felt right, she said.
"None of them felt like I was embodying the Koranic injunction of driving off darkness with light," she wrote in the op-ed. "I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way."
That's when Carland came up with a unique plan: For every hate-filled tweet she received, she would donate one Australian dollar to UNICEF.
Carland, who teaches at Melbourne’s Monash University and is married to talk-show host Waleed Aly, said she chose to give to UNICEF for a specific reason.
"I particularly liked the idea of giving to UNICEF, as so often they were assisting children who were in horrific situations that were the direct outcome of hate -- war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence. These children seemed like the natural recipients for the antidote to hate," she said.
This week, both the American and Australian chapters of UNICEF took to Twitter to thank her.
Carland, who in 2009 was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, has also been deluged with plenty of positive feedback on social media this week.
Carland said she’s been "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support.
However, she told the Morning Herald, that the trolls have not been silenced. In fact, some have even criticized her choice of charity.
Some haters just "can't help themselves," she quipped on Twitter.
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