Donald Trump probably expected business as usual last week when he took aim at Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim-American Army captain killed in Iraq. After all, his usual pattern of denigrating minorities, Muslims and immigrants has been a foundational strategy in his bid for the presidency. But thanks to a coordinated Twitter campaign to address his gendered critique of Ghazala Khan — in which he suggested the grieving mother either “had nothing to say” or was muzzled by her religion during a DNC appearance last week — Trump’s bigotry has backfired, at least for the moment.
Following Ghazala’s eloquent defense of her faith and her silence — by calling Islam a religion that teaches equality and citing the difficulty of speaking about her dead son — Muslim women and their allies flooded Twitter with their diverse and defiant voices, sending the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow viral as they proudly broadcast their strength as females and Muslims.
— Dalia Mogahed (@DMogahed) August 1, 2016
I’m an outspoken, Muslim female journalist because I’m tired of mainstream media defaming, misrepresenting & silencing us. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) August 1, 2016
We raise Nobel Peace Prize winners, we are Nobel Peace Prize winners. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) August 1, 2016
As a Muslim woman, I’m guided by my faith to speak out for racial justice, educational equity, LGBT & women’s rights. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Rana Elmir (@elmirana) August 1, 2016
The movement penetrated the Twitter mainstream within hours, making the U.S. trending list as well as “Moments,” the social media site’s editorial section.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) August 1, 2016
Refreshingly, a good number of non-Muslims registered their own disgust with Trump’s rhetoric, tweeting their solidarity with Muslim women around the world.
I am not a Muslim woman but I love and respect you #CanYouHearUsNow contributors! Keep up the great work!!.
— Barb-Wired (@babawoowa) August 1, 2016
#CanYouHearUsNow Standing in solidarity with my muslim sisters
— Free (@jeanette_nadene) August 1, 2016
This time, Trump’s gamble — that preying on the supposed “weak” would be mistaken for strength — backfired gloriously. For a moment, the mainstream displayed a moment of supreme decency, and America has been given a chance to reflect on the actual nature of so-called “American greatness.” As the “Khantroversy” wears on, Muslim women in particular should be commended for their simple, agile and effective reclamation of their narrative.
As autocrats become savvier in using technology to repress dissent, activists are striving to preserve the benefits of digital activism and mitigate the risks.
Environmental activist Evgeniya Chirikova once helped save a forest in Moscow. Now she’s trying to give voice to Russian activists and journalists resisting Putin’s regime.
Facing extreme poverty and a lack of basic services, a movement in Rajasthan is renewing its push for an ambitious law to hold officials accountable.