Current Affairs, Original Writing

‘Afflicted’ – A Netflix Original Series

I did all of this work just to get sick and not be able to live my dreams

A new Netflix series aired recently surrounding the stories of people suffering from chronic illnesses, undiagnosed or “unspecified” by medical professionals. Symptoms were extreme, leaving most of the participants of this docuseries unable to perform any of their daily activities.

Each person differentiates themselves from another through their symptoms, and the symptoms present themselves as different illnesses entirely – from the offset. The words “psychosomatic” and “Lyme Disease” are thrown around often through the episodes, suggesting a potential link between the participants, their symptoms, and the disease. I’ll leave the opinions of other participants to the general public, however. There’s one person in particular that I want to focus on.

We’re introduced to Jake in the third episode of the docuseries; an aspiring musician whose career was suddenly cut short due to the onset of symptoms linked to Lyme Disease. The beginning of the episode features Jake’s struggle in articulating his current symptoms to the camera, and as the episode progresses, the viewer is lead to understand the events which took place in his life but most importantly, how his life has been dramatically impacted because of his illness.

22 minutes into the episode, I had to stop watching. Any documentaries featuring people struggling with chronic illnesses hit a nerve, so to speak. The intention of this post, however, is most definitely not to associate my condition on any kind of level with those in the series. This post was to highlight the unimaginable trauma of those who may look physically well but are struggling with an uncontrollable and unpredictable illness, of which there is no cure yet and treatment which consists entirely of trial and error. Watching a relatively young man’s life turned upside down due to something both entirely out of his control and entirely unanticipated is definitely heart-wrenching. To see the ambitious light in his character gradually diminish – it puts everything into perspective.

Learning about stories such as that of Jake’s really makes me realise how lucky we are, how lucky I am. I can call myself a survivor, but am I really battling a condition of no known cure? No. Has my life been stripped from my hands overnight? No. I agree with one thing, in particular, the docuseries mentioned; those who are sick have a tendency to associate their identity with their illness. They’re not just a person anymore – they’re a sick person. I, too, have fallen victim to enshrouding myself in self-pity when, in retrospect, my health is improving, I am most certainly not bed-bound, and I do not rely on medication to essentially live. Those who have suffered from chronic illnesses, and/or chronic pain can definitely identify with the overwhelming trauma it leaves one with, even once they’ve overcome the worst of it. And perhaps this motto isn’t the healthiest to live by, but the documentary showed me how people undeniably have it much worse than people such as myself. Granted my health isn’t the best it could be at the moment, I’ve learned that relatively stable health is often taken at face value.

I intend to bring myself to complete the rest of Jake’s story. And he’s taught me just how lucky I truly am, to be able to live my life to its fullest potential – he’s given me perspective. I sincerely hope from the deepest of my heart that his story has a happy outcome.

The transience of life is all too often overlooked and underestimated. We have an overwhelming ability as a society to conceal ourselves behind issues which are ephemeral in comparison to others.

The series, in general, verges on the side of sensationalism as opposed to information and fact, but the stories of the participants raise some interesting questions in relation to chronic illnesses, pain and an array of unspecified symptoms.

A x

Featured image: Afflicted, Netflix Original Series (2018)
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Current Affairs

“Qatar-strophe”

Following the release of a statement by Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin al-Thani, supposedly insinuating a support for terror and “Iranian-backed terrorists groups” (1) across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and 5 other gulf states have severed ties with Qatar. Officials have been given 48 hours to leave, with Qatari nationals given 14 days to leave the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Following this, Emirates and Etihad airlines, in addition to others, have suspended flights to and from Doha. The reasons behind this ex-communications of sorts is the accusation that Qatar run the risk of “destabilising” (2) the region.

Approximately 40% of food imports for Qatar are from Saudi Arabia, leaving Qatar incredibly vulnerable and essentially, stranded. It seems almost too coincidental that this break comes about following Donald Trump’s trip to Riyadh last month, with many calling this move a bold risk and political statement, resulting from the US strengthening its alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Ultimately, one cannot ignore the ongoing conflict between the Shi’ite and Sunni muslims, predominately between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It was only in 2015 that, of the 769 pilgrims, over 400 (3) Iranians were killed in a stampede in Mina, during the pilgrimage of Hajj – matters were exacerbated following Saudi’s intentional, initial belittling of the accurate number of casualties. A crisis of this scale only fuelled the fire of conflict of power between Iran and Saudi Arabia, fundamentally as a result of both following two different branches of Islam.

Severing ties with Qatar following a supposedly “hacked” (4) statement by the Qatari emir is a dramatic move, resulting in isolating the gulf country. On twitter, reports are already emerging of stores in Doha suffering from empty shelves and a progressively worsening rise in food/water shortages across stores. All of this extensive action being based on an alleged conspiring with Iran and supporting extremism.

Muslim countries are essentially expected to stand united against extremism: conflicts such as this create vacuums for terrorist organisations to infiltrate, going against President Trump’s very reason for visiting Saudi Arabia. Innocent civilians will be stranded in the Middle East, utterly helpless in the face of this ex-communication. It appears there is much more behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to break off alliances with Qatar than the media are aware of. The collateral damage will be extensive following this, but, to world leaders it’s more of a matter of political alliances than humanity and the well-being of mankind.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40155829 
(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40155829
(3) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-saudi-arabia-murdering-pilgrims-hajj-stampede-a7228466.html
(4) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/world/middleeast/qatar-saudi-arabia-egypt-bahrain-united-arab-emirates.html?_r=0

Featured Image: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20140510-saudi-arabia-and-the-uae-accept-the-status-quo-and-qatar-provides-a-face-saving-concession/

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Current Affairs, Original Poetry

Aleppo’s Lost Children

The face paint of war:

Blood and ash.

We have simultaneously

Created a generation

Of

War children

Whilst condemning them

To a life of neglect.

We throw around the words

Blame

And shame,

Any kind of self-justification

For sitting by

And doing nothing.

500,000 lives lost,

and nothing to show for it

other than a

thousand-yard stare.

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Current Affairs

Faryal Makhdoom: The Stigmatisation of Daughters-in-law in Asian Societies

The current Khan saga will have most in hysterics over the mundane situation which has been awfully propelled into the media limelight. A bitter dispute between a wife and her in-laws has made headlines across eager tabloids, and most people think very little of the conflict. However, for Asian and Muslim women, this saga stands for much more than just a family dispute: it stands for the treatment of women across society by their in-laws, and the particular stigma associated with a daughter-in-law standing up against her husband’s parents.

Faryal Makhdoom, wife to boxer Amir Khan, has come forward on social media revealing the psychological and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her in-laws. The details are, of course, readily available on The Sun, The Mirror and naturally, The Daily (hate) Mail, so I won’t go on about that aspect of this whole situation. However, I do want to address the fundamental issue that has arisen out of this dispute; the treatment of daughters-in-law in Asian families.

Firstly, Amir Khan’s parents took to Geo News¹ to publicly condemn Faryal’s dress code, claiming that was the subject of conflict in their family. His mother claims she wanted Faryal to adopt a scarf, typically worn in Islam by some women to cover up, as she was unhappy with her daughter-in-law’s Western dress code. This in itself is problematic for many reasons. There is nowhere in the Qur’an that says women have to dress in accordance to their in-laws. Secondly, as much as I appreciate that some can interpret Faryal’s dress code as not entirely in accordance with Islamic wishes, no one has a right to dictate what a woman can and cannot wear. A woman is perfectly entitled to wear a dress if she wants to. Attempting to exercise this kind of control over a daughter-in-law cannot and should not be accepted.

Many people, especially those in the Islamic community, claim Faryal’s refusal to adhere to her in-laws’ conditions are rebellious and disrespectful. This attitude of utter disregard for a woman’s plea for awareness is the exact reason why our culture and religion is given a bad name, because, by condemning Faryal Makhdoom as a Western, disrespectful daughter-in-law, we ultimately ignoring her in favour of very old cultural customs which cannot be applied to present day society. Furthermore, I’m baffled at the men who comment on this like they have any idea what is expected of a woman once she leaves her own parents for her husband’s. If anything, the comments made by some men on social media regarding this have come across as incessantly misogynist in nature and sexist. If a man was condemned to a strict adherence to cultural, and ultimately backward, norms, they’d refute them in a heartbeat. In our culture, men tend to prefer exercising control over women, and Faryal’s outburst on social media has exposed us to this harsh reality. The extent of this control extends to physical violence in many cultures, including beating and forcing wives to take part in household chores.

I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t condone Faryal’s decision to take this to social media. In fact, I wholeheartedly support this. How else are we to understand the plight of women as they enter their husband’s households and are subjected to emotional and physical abuse? Of course a daughter-in-law should show nothing but kindness and respect to her in-laws, but the same kindness should be reciprocated: it’s not a one way street. Fundamentally, people cannot dictate and control their daughter-in-laws. That era is long over. Women should not be silenced into obedience and they certainly should not be forced into living under strict rules of in-laws. Women have no legal or religious duty to look after their in-laws, although it is culturally appreciated and desired.

For as long as I remember, I’ve known women to have an inferior title enforced upon them, simply because of their gender. Everything Faryal says is second-guessed and then compared to the plight of her in-laws who are elderly, and thus, assumed correct. A woman cannot be ridiculed for standing up against abuse. It’s interesting that people attack her for appearing fake, commenting on her undergoing plastic surgery and insulting her appearance before making a judgement on how right she was to come out in public and shame those who abused her.

Women are not bound by law into subservience to their husband’s family. And we most certainly will not be silenced by or into patriarchal dominance.

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Current Affairs

Eid Mubarak!

To all my Muslim friends and family around the world, Eid Mubarak! (A day late, I apologise, as I spent the entire day with family)

This year, Eid was particularly special for me; for one, my entire family spent it together for the first time in years, due to different mosques in different boroughs choosing to celebrate Eid a day after it’s announced by Saudi. I am still yet to understand why. Thus, this year, it was fantastic to spend the entire day with loved ones and not spread it over two days.

Secondly, this year more so than previously, I am reminded of how special family is, and how fortunate I am to be able to spend this year celebrating with them. I am constantly in awe of how exceptionally wonderful my parents are –  I truly feel so blessed to be surrounded by such love. I’m happiest when I’m with them. The events of Baghdad hang heavy in the air for many Muslims celebrating Eid around the world, and I can’t help but feel slightly guilty for enjoying it as much as I did today, knowing there are families around the world who’ve lost so much, so many at the hands of terror. Today allowed me to appreciate that life is unpredictable, and we ought to cherish our time on this earth with the people we love, who help us strive to be better versions of ourselves.

The war on Islam is ongoing, with ISIS claiming more Muslim lives than any other. During this holy month of Ramadan, we witnessed a terror attack on such a great scale, no comparison can be made with relation to lives lost. It’s believed to be one of the deadliest attacks on Iraq. What more can be said to emphasise the severity of this situation? One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat – charity. I urge as many of you as possible to donate to charities which help cities like Baghdad recover, or at least begin the recovery process.

It appears the Western media only cares about terrorism claiming lives if the victims are Westerners. Muslim lives are worth much less comparatively, in their eyes, hence the substantial lack of media outcry against such an act of atrocity. The Baghdad bombing should serve as a shocking reminder to the ignorant that ISIS do not represent Islam in the slightest if they’re killing fellow Muslims –  they are not Muslims and lost the right to call themselves so when they decided to commit acts of senseless murder in the name of a religion they so clearly subverted.

Conclusively, I ask as many of you as possible to keep Iraq in your prayers. We cannot fathom what they’re experiencing, having to bury their loved ones, children and families on a day where the rest of the world is celebrating the end of a holy month. But we stand in solidarity against the Islamic State militants, and their fight against Muslims. Shia or Sunni, a Muslim is a Muslim. We are all one and equal in the eyes of God, and what matters the most is how we live our lives –  NOT how others live theirs. May God give those who lost their lives a peaceful resting, and those who’ve lost loved ones any kind of comfort to ease their pain.

God is not a creator of evil; evil is manmade.

A

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Current Affairs

#Brexit

“Filthy immigrants”

“Go back to where you came from”

Paki

Above are a few examples of insults being thrown around recklessly by the ignorant, in the wake of the Brexit result. It appears the only thing to come out of the EU referendum so far is a sense of freedom for people to express racist, ignorant and bigoted views on “immigrants” who are actually working their absolute hardest just like the rest of us, with as much right to be in the United Kingdom as their neighbour.

From the responses on social media and the news, it seems as if many who voted didn’t fully understand what they were voting for; it’s my view that voters used this referendum as a platform on which they could attack and politically protest the government. However, in doing so, they have sabotaged the future of many generations, including mine. One person being interviewed on Sky News told a reporter she wanted a tighter control on immigration and she would be voting to leave the EU in hope that this would take place; when asked more on the subject of the referendum, she admitted she had no knowledge of what an actual referendum was. This lack of knowledge during the referendum is exactly what has led to the sorry state of affairs in the UK now.

Interestingly, many who voted to leave believed that in doing so, “immigrants” would be deported back to “where they came from” which contributes to the notion that those who voted to leave, with that mindset, were clearly either heavily misinformed or delusional. Or perhaps both. Yes, the leave camp’s (only) argument was to clamp down on uncontrollable immigration. But what was not mentioned by the remain camp in enough detail were the ramifications of leaving the EU. The substantial effect it would have on our economy, trade and society. Brexit, in my opinion, has now isolated us from the other countries, making us appear far more vulnerable. The referendum promoted the United Kingdom as a democracy, which was undisputed prior to Cameron calling for a public vote, but now makes us look pathetic, especially with Scotland standing firmly against our decision.

Furthermore, the indisputable surge in racist attacks towards considered “not British” is wholly unacceptable and a terrifying reminder of the past we thought we had overcome. My parents grew up with sickening racism on a daily basis and firmly believed, following the riots, in that extent of racism being well and truly over. The fact that it has returned has angered so many nationwide. From shouting abuse at women in hijabs, to hurling racial abuse at someone of ethnic minority on public transport, this level of ignorance will not be tolerated. I’m seeing an unacceptable number of people sitting or standing around uncomfortably whilst abuse is being shouted at British citizens, solely due to their skin colour. Racism has become a kind of taboo –  if it’s not mentioned, it’s not happening. Majority of people who’ve come to Britain from countries like Poland (repeatedly referred to by bigots, who claim are ‘stealing’ their jobs) are working alongside the rest of us to earn a living. They have just as much right to be here. Those who are ignorant enough to hurl racist abuse have less of a right to live in the UK, because a vast majority of them are unemployed. Why are they unemployed? Not because “immigrants are taking all the jobs” but because they’re too lazy to earn their way in life –  instead relying on benefits and reproducing offspring in order to abuse the benefit system.

Another sticking point has been the leave camp’s stance on refugees coming into Britain. Someone told me that refugees were taking everyone’s jobs and as a result, they are not welcome into Britain. I’m struggling to see what wrong can come of allowing war-torn victims into a country, where they can make a living for themselves and provide safety above all else for their families. The West are responsible for the wars in these countries, so it wouldn’t it be hypocritical for us to turn them away? They come here to escape danger, not “steal” jobs. I had an interesting conversation with a group of friends, of which you can see below – refugees should not be looked at as any less than us. They’ve endured the worst anyone can experience, yet are shunned by ignorant members of society  for choosing to escape rather than die.

Kamaal_Ahmad_-_How_the_fuck_can_you_claim_you_re_not_a_racist_when___Kamaal_Ahmad_-_How_the_fuck_can_you_claim_you_re_not_a_racist_when___Kamaal_Ahmad_-_How_the_fuck_can_you_claim_you_re_not_a_racist_when___

It’s been a week since we voted, and the state of Britain is already laughable. “We want our country back” – it never left. Of course, we must respect the voters, and in all honesty we cannot solely blame the leave voters, but certainly the leaders of the camps for not providing enough information to begin with. However, the racist and bigoted attitudes of a certain (older) demographic of voters will not be tolerated or accepted.

The EU referendum was never about deporting “foreigners”, it was about the detachment from EU legislations and controlling immigration. Instead, it has been subverted into a free pass for racist attitudes to be voiced. This comes as a result of ignorance. Thankfully, the ignorant appear to be the minority.

Let’s keep it that way.

A

NB: I’ve said it before, but just to clarify I am NOT a current affairs writer, I simply write my opinion on current affairs around the world. If anything I’ve said isn’t correct, politically or in any sense for that matter, I apologise but it’s not my intention to write objectively. 

Featured Imagehttp://www.cbc.ca/news/world/brexit-parliament-cameron-merkel-corbyn-1.3655607

Further Reading

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-36646979

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2016/jun/30/racism-brexit-eu-referendum-video

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