Sadaf Mujeeb may not have taken on a Zaid Hamid yet, but she could well be the next Marvi of Pakistan.
Sadaf is an atheist, an LGBT rights supporter and an animal rights activist who spent a fortnight before Eid gently convincing the faithful to “sponsor” an animal instead of “sacrificing” it. I watched her keep her cool on an animal rights page on Facebook where the faithful threatened to hand her over to the Taliban to be “sacrificed”.
This week Sadaf was busy taking up Rabia Saleem’s case. Rabia, an Ahmadi, was expelled from her university for allegedly tearing up an anti-Ahmadi poster.
“I called COMSATS university about six times to ask them why they hadn't taken any action against people putting up anti-Ahmadi posters around the university, and how what Rabia Saleem did was being considered as anything other than courage and integrity in the face of unrelenting, institution-sponsored bullying...” 20-something Sadaf wrote in an email.
Sadaf openly talks of her religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and is quite sure that "it is evidence of stupidity more than courage”.
“I have, like everyone else who's a minority in this country, faced discrimination based on my beliefs. But the resulting frustration and anger only encourages me to fight harder for all minority rights, which includes the freedom to express a religious opinion, freedom of sexual orientation, and basically the freedom to live without fear of persecution or rejection from the society as a whole,” she wrote.
However, she considers LGBT rights as her most “controversial fight” yet. “People especially get offended when there is any talk of reconciling ones faith, Islam, with ones identity as a homosexual, transgender or queer.
“It's sad that people fail to recognize religion as something that's personal, and always seem to feel the need to make it part of something that rules an entire nation irrespective of whether the citizens of that nation share those views or not.”
Sadaf has also rescued scores of animals from the streets of Karachi. But, for her, animals rights is not just for the four-legged. “I believe in fighting for animal rights, which includes humans as social animals (irrespective of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or class), and non-human animals (irrespective of breed)”