On March 17, 2018, Digital Empowerment Foundation hosted its fifth DEFdialogue with Nazia Erum. Nazia Erum is the author of the bestselling book, ‘Mothering a Muslim’, which has opened up prime-time discussions on television, columns in newspapers, and reams of reviews. It has been called an ‘important book’ for our times that ‘fills a gap in Indian literature’’
In her book, Nazia, mother of a two-year-old, explores the narratives of a hundred women whose children are growing up with an Islamic identity in some of the top schools of the country. Stories of children being bullied by their classmates, unheard by their teachers and segregated by their schools throw light on the fact that religion-based hate is not restricted to tier II and tier III cities or among the middle class in tier I cities; but is present across the country, and has only risen since 2014.
Nazia’s daughter gets excited every time she sees the Indian flat fluttering in the sky on the streets of delhi. She’s worried how will she answer her daughter if, one day, she returns home from school with a question from a friend, “Am I a Pakistani?”
It was in fact in 2014 when Nazia first started thinking of this project. It was the year her daughter was born. It was the year when religion-based hate began to peak in India. Suddenly, there was wider than ever gap between the majority and the minority communities of India.
In her discussion with an audience of about 20 people, Nazia narrated stories of women and children who have been at the receiving end of religion-based hate. She also shared stories of love and empathy that are mushrooming across the country, even if with low visibility.