Susan Carland and Waleed Ali arrive ahead of the 2015 GQ Men Of The Year Awards on November 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.
Susan Carland and Waleed Ali arrive ahead of the 2015 GQ Men Of The Year Awards on November 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

There’s a lot of hate online. A prominent Muslim woman in Australia can tell you about that.

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Susan Carland is an academic who often appears on Australian TV wearing her hijab. She’s also married to a famous talk-show host — Waleed Aly.

So let’s just say her high profile as a Muslim Australian earns Carland a lot of attention from those online haters. And that got her thinking.

“Instead of just letting all this ugliness out into the world unanswered, how could I actually push back with something good?” Carland asks. “If they’re putting ugliness into the world, how can I actually put something beautiful in response to that? Sort of even things up. As I was sitting there thinking, why don’t I donate $1 to charity for every hateful tweet I get.”

That’s one Australian dollar for each hateful message. Carland gives the money to UNICEF — her charity of choice.

“The idea of UNICEF came to my because I thought they do such good work for such deserving people,” she says. “And so often the kids they are helping are children who are in awful situations directly because of hate — because of war, violence, poverty or injustice. I thought, this makes sense.”

She started last month and quickly reached a thousand dollars in donations. Now she’s not quite sure what the total is.

“I actually couldn’t tell you for certain. What I do and every time I see one I make a mental note and at the end of a certain period I just round it up a bit to be on the safe side,” she says. “I’d rather over donate to UNICEF than under charge and be a liar. It’s funny because it’s not just on Twitter. People have found my work email and have sent me unpleasant emails in the last couple of days too. I don’t know if I should pay extra for that because there is a lot more than 140 characters.”

Carland still gets trolled. But her idea has also attracted a lot of support.

She says she even received a note from a man who donated $50 to UNICEF and told her not to worry about the next 50 hate messages — he had it covered.

For Carland all the attention is nice, but that wasn’t the point.

“I wasn’t trying to start anything when I did this,” she says. “It was honestly just me sitting at my computer thinking, what can I do? What do I think is the way I can live what I believe? And so now I see the sort of knock on effects of people saying well this something positive, this is something I want to take on too. Anything that puts more good and positivity out in the world and disempowers hate is a good thing.

“And if that can happen and that can encourage other people who might be feeling miserable about the hate directed at them and have them say ‘I can take back a little power.’ And not just power, but positivity and I’m not going to let their hate mold me. I’m going to choose who I’m going to be who I am. That would be fantastic.”

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