Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Facing the Islamaphobic trolls


Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


As many people know, as well as blogging I am active on social media with a FaceBook Page and Twitter, to talk about what I care about.


I am open about being British Bangladeshi combined with my Dad's British heritage. I post a lot about what I feel is wrong about the world, whether this is about conservation,  environmental issues, hatred, sexism, LGBT rights, human rights or indigenous rights.

I rarely talk about my religion as this is personal to me but sometimes when I see Islamaphobic posts, I respond as a Muslim being attacked not just an activist. When people tag me and say vile and disgusting things to me about my religion or my community, they are attacking my very heart. I can't separate myself from what I was born into and what I'm part of.

Since the Brexit referendum started, I have been regularly attacked by Muslim hating trolls. Some might say that they have the freedom of speech to do that, but I don't agree. They don't have the right to come onto the social media of a child (age 12 when these particular trolls started) and say hateful things. Because I have been bullied on-line so much, my parents check my accounts during the day and block trolls before I can see them, which I think ends up being 1-2 times a week. However, I still see plenty of them. I don't respond, I just block them. Although it's hard to forget something you have seen and is stuck in your head. I've never mentioned it before as it's been something we've dealt with on our own as a family.


The hate against Muslims is everywhere.  I see it school, on TV, on social media, in all my local shops where papers like the Daily Mail stare up at me from the shelves with their racist headlines, from parts of my white family who think it's OK to buy the Daily Mail or Sun and leave them lying around when I visit or who want to argue about race, Islam, terrorists or refugees. Basically it's everywhere.


Since Donald Trump won the election in the USA, these racists trolls have the space to shout out louder. On Sunday 29th Jan 17, 4 particularly vicious trolls made me angry. I don't know how they found me or how they knew I was Muslim. I blocked them and then tweeted this:

"I am a 14 year old Muslim birder. I have had to block 4 islamaphobic trolls today. That is what life is like 4 UK Muslims, let alone in USA" @BirdgirlUK

The link is to me tweet is
https://twitter.com/birdgirluk/status/825791555927736321

After tweeting, I went out birding and then came home and went to bed early. I was expecting a few close friends to like it but was shocked when I saw in the early hours that  I'd had a huge number of responses. It was overwhelming. In the end my tweet had 766 likes, 412 retweets and lots of supportive comments (and a few more trolls of course). Almost all were people I had never heard of, many from the USA. Some were birders I knew, birders I didn't know, teachers, villagers; people all around me showing me that they were "with me". The quote that sticks in my mind from the comments is Michelle Obama's "as they go low, you go high".

How many normal birders read that tweet and think to themselves, you know what, I'm going to reply to that child's tweet and tell her why it's OK to hate Muslims. Who thinks you know what, I'm going to tweet her and tell her what I think about Muslims or why Brexit wasn't racist or why Trump is doing the same think as Obama etc. What kind of people are they? What has any of that and the anti Muslim comments that go with them got to do with my tweet? All the positiveness gave me the courage to speak to the Bristol Evening Post when their reporter Michael Yong contacted me.

This is the article on the front page of today's Bristol Evening Post, http://bit.ly/2lzUKG2. If you are a UK birder, you may notice a few errors, but they're not really important to the current issue, so please don't focus on them.







Since talking about it, I do feel better but I think it will be a long while until I am able to read the Evening Post article or deal with some of the comments. It is just too painful....

Postscript:
There has been a very supportive article in The Sun, a right wing  racist tabloid newspaper, about my Islamaphophic trolls. What is really ironic is that they have caused much of the hatred in the UK against Muslims with their own Islamaphobic articles. I am hoping that a few of their readers will see this article and maybe think about the impact hatred has on people or a child like me. We haven't read the article as my Dad is from Liverpool, so we boycott The Sun anyway because of the nasty lies they told about those at Hillsborough just a few days after the disaster in 1989. This is a recent article in the Guardian about the Sun and Liverpool Football Club http://bit.ly/2kcJQkQ. This is the link to The Sun, but I don't want to encourage anyone to look at the article unless you are really interested in The Sun and it's usual racism http://bit.ly/2laOgwA. Maybe they will use the  article to able to say that they're not racist?

Another local article is the following one in SomersetLive http://bit.ly/2lzYKqo


About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 14 year old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of BAME people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter







Horus the Peregrine Falcon and series of books






I was given a copy of this book by John Miles and absolutely loved it. If I’d had a book like this as a younger child, I would have been so happy with it. I do appreciate that not every child is as obsessed with nature and birds as I was, so I wanted to know what ordinary children would think of it.

So I took the book to every babysitting job that I had for 6 months, read the children the book and carefully watched their response. What I saw was that all children loved the book. It didn’t matter if they were boys or girls, pre-readers or almost at secondary school. It was a big hit!

So based on my research I would thoroughly recommend this book and all the books in the series for any age child. There are very few story books about wildlife around especially birds that these do stand out, also they are very educational as well.

The books are by John Miles, quite a well-known birder and writer. The illustrations are by Barry Robson and are beautiful.

I have done a video review with my 8 year old niece speaking, so have a watch https://youtu.be/4GsBfui73u8


This is the link to the Amazon page for this book http://amzn.to/2kCc39X


About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 14 year old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of BAME people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter