EVEN in her untimely and tragic death, the iconic singer Shuhada' Sadaqat, formerly known as Sinéad O'Connor, is igniting political debate and discourse all around the world.

But in Germany, the topic of discussion is firmly centred around the hijab, which has been trending overnight on Elon Musk’s newly branded platform "X".

Some users have criticised media and news outlets such as the BBC for using younger, dated photos of Connor, instead of more recent photos of her wearing the hijab, as she regularly did after converting to Islam in 2018.

But the discourse in Germany seems to be part of a wider discussion around immigration, religious tensions and ultimately, blatant Islamophobia. Some users based in Germany have criticised German news outlet ARD Tagesschau for using only photos of Sinéad in the hijab, with some German users posting concerning rhetoric such as: “The #Hijab is no small thing, but a serious political and security issue for our country.”

READ MORE: No medical cause given for Sinead O’Connor’s death – coroner’s court

For me, the death of Sinéad O'Connor signifies the tragic loss of a courageous folksinger who fearlessly and continually spoke and sought her truth after a tumultuous upbringing and a life marked with abuse and heartache; her son Shane passing away through suicide in 2022.

In my admission, in 1992, I was but a glint in my faither's een when O’Connor made her infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live, singing “War” by Bob Marley and ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II in protest of the cover-up of child molestation within the Catholic church.

Ten years later, O’Connor would be proven correct, when the true extent of child-abuse and subsequent cover up within the priesthood was exposed – with Pope John Paul II apologising for the Catholic church’s actions to its victims in 2000.

Sinead O’Connor was ahead of her time and deserves vindication, endless apologies, understanding and kindness – things I believe she never got. Instead, O'Connor received torment, misogynistic harassment, bullying, and condemnation by civil-rights organisations such as the Anti-Defamation League. Men such as Frank Sinatra weighed in, calling her a “stupid broad”, but the real shock to me was the calculated, malicious attacks that came from Madonna.

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O’Connor truly was the original “cancelled artist” and was “Dixie Chicked” to epic proportions when the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations hiring a steamroller to drive over and crush hundreds of copies of her albums outside her then record label’s headquarters.

Fast forward to 2003, when the now named "The Chicks" voiced their opposition to the invasion of Iraq and stated they were “ashamed” that the then President George W Bush was from Texas. They faced severe backlash, CD burnings, cancelled shows, blacklisting from thousands of radio stations and death threats. The backlash had real-life career ramifications in the form of reduced sales of their next album and supporting tour dates.

But “The Chicks” were going through this together – as a collective band. I wonder how Sinéad felt to be the sole artist at the receiving end of such hate, simply for standing up for what was eventually proven to be factually correct.

Since her death, thousands have posted their fond memories of her performances. One of the most significant is a performance that took place two weeks after the SNL recording, where she appeared at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary tribute show to a full Madison Square Garden.

READ MORE: Irish singer Sinead O’Connor remembered as ‘powerful, passionate, determined’

She was programmed to sing “I Believe In You", but on being introduced and facing deafening booing and jeering, she signalled to the band to stop the song. She paused, then performed an improvised spoken-sung version of the very same song she sung on SNL. The recording seems more like an impassioned speech at a rally, rather than a song. After she finished, she paused, then left the stage, a woman of unequivocal dignity, resilience and integrity. She didn’t back down. She doubled down.

If TikTok or "X” existed in 1992, this iconic moment of resilience, courage and integrity would have gone viral and perhaps influenced the youth of today in far better ways than the content they are currently exposed to on those platforms – often, harmful tirades about feminism by toxic men who don’t even know what the patriarchy is.

Her strength, dignity and beauty shone through at 26 years old and continued until the end. Like myself, Sinéad suffered from an incurable chronic pain and fatigue condition called Fibromyalgia – more common in women and exacerbated by exhaustion, stress and emotions. Her strength reminds me to be strong, even when the online hate feels like it becomes too much.

As a professional singer who is often told to “shut up and sing” and that my political views and opinions are unwanted, I feel overwhelming sadness that the exact trolling, harassment, and at times abuse, that followed Sinéad O'Connor throughout her career, is still so prevalent today towards any musician who dares speak up for something they believe in.

Not a shining example, but Matty Healy of the 1975 is now banned from performing in Malaysia for protesting their anti-LGBT laws by kissing a band member onstage. They will face the very real consequence of no longer being able to put shows on in the territory, alienating themselves from a market, yet many people are still calling Matty’s actions "performative activism".

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Whilst Sinead O’Connor is tragically not with us anymore, her legacy will inspire the younger generation to stand up for what is right and what they believe in, regardless of the possible career and reputational consequences they may face as a result.

At the end of the day, folk music is politics and politics is folk music. Folk music is the music of the people, and I for one will not “shut up and sing” like so many internet trolls tell me to do. Sinéad O'Connor was the woman who paved the way for the next generation of singers and folksingers’ to speak out and advocate for causes, despite the likelihood of overwhelming public critique and consequences for their careers. We owe it to Sinéad to carry on her work.

Radical, fearless, articulate, political singers who stick their flag to the mast is exactly what we need more of and I’m glad to have wonderful women like Karine Polwart, Cara Dillon and Eddi Reader to look up to.