Sarah Galo profiles Ayesha Siddiqi, the editor in chief of the New Inquiry, in The Guardian (Photograph: Manahil Siddiqi /Ayesha Siddiqi):
How did you begin writing online?
I joined Twitter to tell jokes that I couldn’t get away with on Facebook. I began to accumulate a following mostly because comedians would retweet my jokes. After a certain point, my awareness of that audience fostered a sense of responsibilty. I had grown up in communities where a lot of issues, which defined my experience and the experiences of others like me, were never discussed.
People were, and are, being bombed with impunity in Pakistan, where my family is from, and no one here knows about it. Between the jokes, I would mention that. I’m never really inclined to share personal details, but I knew that surveys found that people who have a fear and distrust of Muslims correlated with people who do not know Muslims. I thought, “Well, here’s a few thousand of you,” many probably like the ones I had grown up with who didn’t know of a lot of Muslims, and now at least they knew one. The reactions were encouraging, but underscored the mystification around Muslim identity: ‘Oh wow, you know pop culture.’ It’s like, ‘Oh you’re Muslim too? You don’t seem oppressed, or brainwashed, or unhappy or anything like that.’
I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity for dialogue. But we don’t have the time to hold someone’s hand and walk them through the basic fact of someone else’s humanity everyday. I’m less patient with going through the motions of that, and now I let things speak for themselves a bit more.