My name is Tahera Ahmed and I am the woman who has received support from all parts of the world for being discriminated over a can of Diet Coke and today I want to tell you my story.
I grew up in the affluent countryside neighbourhood of Morton Grove in Illinois, United States, where the annual household income was 50% higher than national average – so we had no homeless men sleeping here and there discriminating against us. I had the privilege of attending expensive private schools. I worked as a chaplain at a prestigious educational institute of the country and was invited by the White House on several occasions. Earlier this year, the White House awarded me in a special ceremony for my services to the community. In the past, I have worked with the State Department and have visited Afghanistan and other places across the world on their behalf, on fully funded trips. In between these State Department funded trips I spoke here and there about the State Department oppressing us, of course funded by Muslim organisations. That’s how I roll. That’s me playing cool and successful!
I have been successfully speaking at tens of conferences every month and have had the privilege of meeting and working with Muslim scholars from around the world. I have learnt a lot from scholars like Brother Yasir Qadhi and others from the Gulf and Middle East who taught me you cannot be friends with Jews and Christians and how Shias are innovators in the great religion of Islam. I have been flying business class from one posh hotel to another over the years, delivering speeches working for the rights of the Muslim community. We have carefully spoken for the rights of Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Aafia Siddiqui the poor wife of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's nephew and cautiously ignored the massacre of Shia Muslims across the world for the sake of unity of Ummah. My selfies with great scholars like Yasir Qadhi on my Facebook profile are evidence of my untiring services to the community.
Last week, I used my premier account with United Airlines and booked a flight to Washington DC to speak on a conference organised in a posh hotel in the capital. I booked an Uber cab to take me to the airport but the car came too quick, full three minutes early. In the business class lounge at the airport, I was served my egg rolls before my halal chicken corn soup and the waiter didn’t smile while serving this to me. Later, the free wifi in the lounge didn’t work for 15 minutes and I had to read on my Kindle HD to kill time. I had a strong feeling I was being targeted…
Fast forward and I was flying 30,000 feet in the air and everything was hunky dory except that my leather seat was freezing cold when I first sat on it but for greater glory of Islam, I ignored it. But then I was denied an unopened can of Diet Coke! I felt so oppressed and immediately thought of Brother Yasir Qadhi who had told me just last week how Christians and Jews can never be our friends. I had the privilege of browsing the web inflight and so I made use of it and immediately told my internet fans how I have just been oppressed and voila! My oppression went viral.
My Facebook post has been shared some 10,000 times and the Ummah was united in my support with the hashtag #UnitedForTahera which has had a quarter of a million mentions so far. Newspapers across the world (including the cunning Christian and Jewish ones), celebrity figures and my fellow posh-hotel-privileged-fully-funded Muslim speakers came all out in my support.
By the time I landed in DC, I was getting calls from various channels asking me to tell them my story on air. I still felt beleaguered because FOX News has not called me yet and I wanted them to do a headline story with me. But I was so overwhelmed with the support I was already feeling I might be the next Aafia Siddiqui – and I didn’t even have to marry the Al-Qaeda #2. I was ecstatic with all the support popping in, I was all over the place on papers, magazines, on TV, on websites of Muslim associations and imams, scholars and Muslims all over were speaking about my oppression.
It’s shameful though that while I was gathering universal support against my oppression over a can a Diet Coke, a few dozen of Shia innovators choose to get killed in Quetta. Another dozen or so decided to get killed in a Baghdad hotel while a few more deliberately came in the line of fire in Karachi and chose death. Over the years, they have made a habit of being killed and taking over the news, becoming a cause of disuniting the great Muslim Ummah. Thank Lord Allah, no mainstream newspaper, magazine or celebrity figure came in support of them to water-down my oppression. They were not able to gain mainstream attention when a serious issue of privileged-Western-Muslim discrimination was a hot topic. All clicktivists and angry Muslims were working hard to get me a Diet Coke. A few Twitter handles and some Facebook profiles attempted to divide the Ummah by speaking of a few hundred of Shia innovators killed using divisive and exclusivist hashtags like #ShiaGenocide but nobody listened to them. Brother Yasir Qadhi and my fellows at CAIR and other Muslim associations across the world continued to ignore and downplay the irrelevant massacre of Shias across the world, like I always do. We are one Ummah after all and if a Shia dies, it’s a Muslim dying, and they were never denied a Diet Coke, were they?
Another group of shameless people tried to hijack my grand cause for the glory of Ummah by churning up the story of Holy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia building the world’s largest hotel and demolishing Muslim heritage. As Muslims, we have to abide by principles of piety but we need entertainment too – of halal variety. The visionary Saud family with blessings of Allah is giving us a halal version of Las Vegas and we are denying it? How thankless can we be? And who doesn’t need a posh hotel? Where would we do our conferences to speak of our Coke-Oppression otherwise and meet to unite Ummah?
I have to rush to catch my flight to Riyadh on a State Department funded trip but follow me on Twitter for my updates from this flight as I will be demanding a can which has the print “Share a coke with Tahera”!
And keep using the hashtag #UnitedForTahera, because I, myself, am using it.
That’s all folks!