The constant Islamophobia that shows almost everywhere is already concerning to begin with. We make it difficult for an entire community, just because… So many of us, who aren’t at the receiving end of this hate, think that it’s hysteria, that there is no issue to talk about. This is not the truth, though, it’s just one of our ways to ignore stuff, because that’s the easier thing to do. It’s not a good time for Muslims in our society, what’s scarier is that whatever little ‘brotherhood’ there was, is gone. For one, the cricket World Cup does not look like a game anymore – it’s an uncalled for fight.
The thing is, this is not because of the players – the people we solely want to watch a match for. The hate is generated from us, the audiences, the lovers of the game. The treatment with the Pakistani team this World Cup season, is an exhibit. During the India vs Pakistan match this Saturday, when Pakistan wicket-keeper-batsman Muhammad Rizwan was walking back to the pavilion in Ahmedabad, Indian fans started chanting “Jai Shri Ram“. It’s a new low even for us, because somehow, we used our religion to demean someone else’s faith – faith that also means something to a lot of people in this country.
I remember a scene from 83, the movie, where there was a montage of people watching the matches after the Indian team was on a roll. There’s one particular scene from the film that was very warm to look at. There were communal differences in parts of UP, and people were avoiding to get out of the house – but there were not enough TV sets at homes at that time. The montage ended in people watching on a singular TV, and there was no sign of disharmony. It’s far fetched and too sweet for reality, but this is the basic intent of sports. If nothing – to at least get people talking. That is the literal intent of anything that gets people to sit and celebrate a shared interest.
Somehow, we managed to ruin even that. We are so full of hate at this point, that we almost never notice what we’re doing wrong. And hate is a very strong word.
The chant for a player from the Pakistani team is not the problem, it’s the timing, the intent and the aggression of it that is. This also raises questions, because if we’re using our faith to look down at someone else’s, does our faith even mean anything to us? If we use religion for actions that are clearly unethical, who are we really pleasing? If not God, it cannot be about faith then. It’s definitely not about the game. It’s so scary when we feel so strongly about something or someone, and we don’t even understand the basis of those feelings; and hence the repercussions of it all.
These vile feelings and behaviour in a society can cause more harm than we can comprehend. In a cricket match, it’s just as capable. For starters, it ruins it for the rest of the people who see a game for what it is. It ruins it for the sportspersons who are looked down at because of where they were born, or what (whom) they choose to believe in – not his performance, not his work – his choices. It ruins it for people of the same faith who call the country home.
Imagine having to call a place home without even being acknowledged as part of it, or hardly ever feeling safe there. Imagine being so full of hate that people re-consider going to a game, because who-knows-what-might-happen.