Muslim Woman Donates $1 to UNICEF for Every Hate Tweet She Receives
Dr. Susan Carland was inspired by the Koran to "drive off darkness with light."
— -- A Muslim professor has pledged to donate $1 to UNICEF for every hate-filled tweet and Facebook message that continues to come her way.
In an op-ed in The Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Susan Carland of Melbourne, Australia, detailed the innumerable Islamophobic messages she receives from strangers.
"Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time," Carland said.
Carland has raised more than $1,000 since starting her counter-protest about two weeks ago according to her Twitter account. But she told ABC News she never intended to lead an "ad-hoc" anti-trolling movement.
"I was just seeing this ugliness coming my way and thinking, 'I don't know if I'll be able to stop them,'" Carland said.
The scholar told ABC News that she decided to take a stand against her "garden-variety trolls" who misconstrue Islam as well as her identity.
"I don't want the way they behave to define me," she said. "It changes the whole dynamic. It's really not about them."
She said she could not have foreseen receiving hate mail. Born into Christianity, Carland said she converted to Islam at age 19.
"I had a very positive experience growing up Christian, but it was more of a personal conviction that led me to Islam. [It] made a lot of sense to me. It was not this barbaric and sexist idea," she said.
Citing Chapter 41 Verse 34 of the Koran, the Monash University professor wrote in her op-ed that her unwavering faith in Islam guided her to take the high road.
"The Koran states 'Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better.' I'd tried blocking, muting, engaging and ignoring, but none of them felt like I was embodying Koranic injunction of driving off darkness with light. I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way."
She told ABC News she hopes her experiences with trolls serve as an example for her two young children.
"I instill an idea of character in my kids," she said. "My oldest is 12 and she asked, 'Why would people say these horrible things?' Just the fact that I, as a Muslim, exist -- to hear that someone hates you -- it's terrifying for the children. But I want to model for them."
Carland said she tells her daughter and son they "always have a choice as to how we can respond."
The wife of award-winning journalist and fellow academic Waleed Aly said she chose to donate to UNICEF because the children the organization support are also victims of hate.
"If I'm trying to counteract hate, they seem like a natural recipient because they experience war and violence and hate. They should be the ones who benefit," Carland said.
Despite the darkness that fills her inboxes, Carland said her faith will continue to shine.
"By refusing to let the hate of others mold me, I am more secure and relaxed in my own identity than ever," she wrote in the op-ed. "Their hatred of what they believe Muslims are has encouraged me to recommit to the beauty of my tradition."
Although she initially feared the media attention, Carland said her husband encouraged her to continue to speak out.
"He said, 'Listen, you're the one who's always complaining there are no good stories about Muslims. Don't run away from this," she said.
While Carland said she does not know if or how her accidental campaign will end, she's pleased knowing others are donating to UNICEF and educating themselves on the true meaning of Islam.