In response to the Norway bombing and massacre, many American media outlets spread rumors that Muslim extremists had something to do with these tragedies. The shootings were carried out by a right-wing Christian, by the way.
In response to the hate mongering, Sanum Ghafoor started the Twitter hashtag #blamethemuslms last weekend to "highlight how ridiculous it is to blame Muslims for every problem in the world."
“I don't have a job. #blamethemuslims,” tweeted Ghafoor. “Friday by Rebecca Black? #blamethemuslims”
While the hashtag became a worldwide trending topic, some people grasped its sarcasm while others were repulsed.
“There’s been a lot of racist #TTs but #blamethemuslims is way over the top..seriously people?” tweeted Lauren Lailani.
“#blamethemuslims needs to stop trending,” tweeted Tranise Monroe. “Learn to respect other religions and not discriminate them.”
“I think it's disgraceful that Twitter hasn't removed #blamethemuslims from the trends,” tweeted Adam Todd.
Ghafoor did her best to defend the hashtag on Twitter and even took to Al Jazeera to raise awareness. In the end, it did little to stop the hate mail from pouring in.
“#thatawkwardmoment when half of Twitter hate your guts,” tweeted Ghafoor.
This #blamethemuslims mix-up highlights Twitter’s gift and curse: Hashtags. Anyone can start one or simply jump on board an existing trend. If you know a hashtags real meaning, it’s like finding out the inside joke only the cool kids in high school know. If you don’t, good luck wrapping your head around its significance without doing some serious digging.
Websites like whatthetrend.com, twopular.com and trendistic.indextank.com provide some fancy statistics, and on occasion, a simple explanation on many trending hashtags. Otherwise, they’re pretty useless in providing a hashtags history.
And with a hashtag like #blamethemuslims, it’s a shame that people like Manar Baker of the United Arab Emirates, one of many people on Twitter responding to the hashtag,are calling for its ban without knowing its true meaning. Without information, some of the simplest things can be taken out of context. Even tragedies gripping an entire nation, and the world.