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Essay: From Civil Disobedience to Lasting Change: Comparing Aneeka & Martin Luther King Jr.

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Both Aneeka and Martin Luther King Jr. use civil disobedience to convey their opinions and promote social change. Aneeka fights against Islamophobia within her home country of Britain, while King fights against the unjust laws geared toward limiting African American’s rights in the United States. Through their civil disobedience, the two carry out a message against their flawed states. However impactful their messages may be, King achieves more through his protests, resulting in more impactful, social changes. King evidently deserves more sympathy than Aneeka, as demonstrated by his lasting legacy and his pursuit of social justices in the United States.

In Home Fire, Aneeka displays the continued Islamophobia in the Western World. However, Shamsie exhibits both arguments for and against Islam. Through her civil disobedience, Aneeka shows that justice and reason should be applied to everyone, no matter their religion. Her message though, does not lead to as much social change as King’s. She disobeys her fiancé’s father, with very little success. To him, she was a mere pest, which damaged his political status and he does not even care to intervene in the matter (Shamsie 240). Additionally, she demonstrates how inhumane Karamat Lone is by prohibiting a funeral for her brother in his home country. She flies to Karachi, ignoring the fact that she would have her citizenship revoked because of her commitment to burying her brother. Aneeka is not embraced by fellow Muslims in Karachi, however, she gives little care, as her only mission is to bury her brother. By doing so, Aneeka makes a political statement to all anti-Muslim governments around the world. When she receives her brother’s corpse, “She would sit with her brother until the world changed or both of them crumbled into the soil around them”(Shamsie 221). Aneeka is eager to make Karamat Lone understand why the treatment of her brother is unfair. This act of civil disobedience gains Aneeka sympathy in the eyes of British citizens and frustrates Karamat Lone. Through her civil disobedience, Karamat loses the respect of fellow world leaders, such as the Pakistani High Commissioner, but no real social change is displayed by this loss of respect. Essentially, her actions led to Lone’s frustration and the and destruction of his family ties.

“The Letter from the Birmingham Jail” exhibits King’s determination to stop segregation and racism in the United States. His actions led to the Civil Rights Act signed by President Johnson. While fighting for freedom and the Good Life, King exposes the hypocrisy behind American Christianity and white moderates. By addressing the letter to fellow clergymen, it demonstrates how white clergymen pick and choose when to follow the actual laws of the bible. This emphasizes how white members of the clergy simply despise blacks for no other reason than race. However, King did not find hypocritical, white clergymen as the worst form of opposition, as he considered the white moderates those who take on this role. In “The Letter from the Birmingham Jail” he writes, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s greatest stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is the White Citizen Council or the Ku Klux Klan, but the White Moderate.” (King 4). To King, the white moderate witnesses injustice, but they fail to act against it out of fear of the repercussions. White moderates are afraid of breaking the law through civil disobedience, even if it benefits the greater good. The most important points from the “The Letter from the Birmingham Jail”  touch upon his resilience and nonstop fight against racism. The writing of this letter in Birmingham jail and addressing the letter to fellow clergymen reveals the irony behind the White American Pastor.

King and Aneeka both use civil disobedience to promote their ideas, however, King evidently achieved more than Aneeka. King completely changed laws in the United States regarding race because of his speeches. He was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, leading to the passing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson. Aneeka showed resilience and loyalty to her brother, but she did not create any new laws and much of the population did not support her cause. Even her cousin does not support her as demonstrated when he asks, “Did you or your bhenchod brother stop to think about those of us with passports that look like toilet paper to the rest of the world who spend our whole lives being so careful we don’t give anyone a reason to reject our visa applications”(Shamsie 220)? In Home Fire, she can perhaps be portrayed as the antagonist, depending on the views of the reader. White Moderates and White American Pastors, as King describes them, can be looked at as comparable to ISIS in Home Fire. Both are oppressive forces that take away other people’s rights; pastors and white moderates oppressed blacks throughout history and ISIS commits acts of terrorism, oppressing women and people of other religions. Aneeka fights against the increasing number of Islamophobes in the Western World, but Parvaiz, her brother,  did join a terrorist group and worked there for months. Therefore, Aneeka indirectly supports the enemy, while King fights for equal rights and peace as demonstrated by opposing fellow leaders of the Civil Rights Movement who use violent tactics, such as Malcolm X.

King and Aneeka demonstrate great resilience in both of their fights for justice. However, King’s positions and actions have created a better life for more blacks in the United States, while Aneeka’s position can be up for debate due to the fact that she supports the burial of her brother in his home country, despite him being a former member of a terrorist organization. King deserves more sympathy than Aneeka because of how much he accomplished and the risks he had to take to attain equal rights. King completely changed the rights of millions of people in the United States and created many more opportunities for a Good Life in the United States. Aneeka did not create or lead an entire movement that would change the lives of millions, as her stubbornness to bury her brother through civil disobedience simply demonstrated the strides she would take for her brother. She did not take into account that Karamat Lone is responsible for the safety of millions of English citizens and he had to enforce tough policy to ensure that he met certain safety requirements.  However different their two motives were, Aneeka and King exemplified great courage in their acts of civil disobedience and opened the eyes of millions of people to start thinking about new social change.

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