The year is 2022. In Afghanistan, an infant Taliban government is overlooking a reopening of universities while strictly imposing gender segregation in campuses across the country. The Winter Olympics have concluded in China, in the capital city of Beijing near the eastern edge of the giant nation. On its western side, in the Xinjiang province, Chinese forces are busy with the largest ethnic cleansing operation of the world. Burkina Faso has become the fourth African nation to fall under military control in the last two years. In Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy – a comedian-turned-politician, politician-turned-president – is bravely leading a defense against the disproportionately large Russian army. Syria continues to consume its people with help from both Russians and Americans at the same time. Israel continues to consume Palestinian land and lives while lighting up its sky with regular fireworks of rubble producing missiles.
The year is 2022. Seven thousand years after the earliest recorded human civilisations first set camp by the Indus in India, the Yellow river in China and Euphrates in Mesopotamia. Two thousand years after the son of God visited Earth. One hundred and fifty seven years after slavery was abolished; some 70 odd years after the overcrowded wombs of colonial empires gave birth to a free third world and in principle, people of all colour, belief, language and history acquired the status of equal citizens in the supposedly modern world.
The year is 2022. The European states of Poland and Romania welcome more than a hundred thousand refugees coming from the European state of Ukraine. The numbers are swelling with each passing day. Authorities in these two countries set up welcoming teams at borders. South Asians and Africans trying to cross the border into these European countries are told to wait. They will be allowed to pass only after the white men and women. The refugees are then transported inwards by volunteers. The Western media is there to film the plight of these refugees and many of them are disappointed and saddened that most of these refugees do not look like the refugees they are used to seeing. Earlier, the same European nations used all their force and influence to stop refugees escaping war and terror in Africa and Asia from entering their lands.
But the year is 2022. Footballers in the English Premier League raise flags and slogans; they hold colourful posters and drop transparent tears protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The world cries the same colourless tears with them, the league applauds their stand; fans across the world extend their love and support. This brings memories of 2019 when another footballer of the Premier League – a fellow named Mesut Ozil and considered among the greatest players of the generation had raised the issue of Uighur persecution in China in the public domain. The world had then refused to cry with him, the league distanced itself from him and fans failed to extend either love or support to the German International of Turkish ethnicity. Ozil’s career ended soon after as the burden of his political beliefs became too heavy to bear for English football. Today, all games of the English Premier League begin with players taking a knee against racism. Occasionally, they also hold pre-game two minute silences on the deaths of openly racist monarchs.
And the year is 2022. SKY news is literally airing a Molotov-making workshop on television as Ukrainian authorities ask civilians to start making and throwing home-made bombs on approaching occupier tanks and trucks. This resistance is celebrated worldwide. Similar resistance from brown skinned Arabs in Iraq and Syria would be unequivocally be condemned as terrorism. Even a stone-throwing Palestinian kid who, in the aftermath of the demolition of his family home, decides to stand in front of an Israeli tank is perceived as a threat to world peace and draws condemnation from the world over along with unsolicited lectures on the futility of violence. Some people point out this hypocrisy. They are asked to postpone these discussions till the war is over. No one addresses the fact that it is these hypocrisies that lead to wars in the first place.
The year is 2022, 78 years after the Universal declaration of Human Rights institutionalising the natural law of equality of all human beings. However, the life of a brown-skinned Muslim still rises weightlessly from one side of the balance when the interest of the white Christian rests on the other. Blonde hair is still an identification of the civilised; blue eyes, a mark of innocence. The year is 2022 but in many respects, it seems that we, the people of this world, have only achieved a change in the numbers displayed on a calendar. In many other respects, it feels like slavery is yet to be abolished, empires are yet to be dismantled and the son of God is yet visit this Earth that his father has surreptitiously forsaken. The pandemic of hypocrisy refuses to end.
Bilal Ahmad Tantray is a PhD Student from Shiv Nadar University.
Featured image: Smoke rises from the territory of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s unit, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Kyiv, February 24, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko