Does Media Bias Against Muslims Feed Into Radicalisation?

I can’t even say “as of recently” because this is an ongoing issue, and has been for some time: bias against Muslims in the western media. I voiced my opinion on how I, as a Pakistani girl, felt attacked by various, biased, news broadcasters; the above interlinking of anger at the bias and radicalisation was the response I received, from someone who worked in the industry.

Now I’m not exactly well-informed in what goes through one’s mind when they decide to fight for the Jihad but this suggestion of subjective bias in the media being a reason behind  radicalisation is almost hilarious. Instead of accepting responsibility for unfair media coverage, they deflect furthermore blame. The heavy focus on average Muslims fleeing the country to fight for groups like Islamic State places most Muslims under the spotlight and heavy scrutiny. Since 9/11, Muslims have been categorically associated with terrorism. Anyone wearing a hijab, burqa or with brown skin is instantly given an awkward side-glance. People wearing niqabs are racially abused in public. The media’s stance on, or rather, against, Muslims is adding fuel to an increasingly widespread fire.

To create a correlation between Muslims feeling attacked by the media and terrorism is possibly the highest level of ignorance I have ever come across. That’s saying something, what with ignorant, uneducated comments are on the rise with a biased media reporting unfairly on current affairs worldwide, involving terrorism and more specifically, Islamic State. There are a fair few newspapers who incite racial hatred with their headlines and focus on the ethnicity of key figures in a story. For example, the Daily Mail is notoriously well-known for focussing on “Muslim” immigrants or “Muslim youths” being involved in crime, when the ethnicity or faith is not necessary to the crime at all. This representation and blatant categorisation of Muslims being criminals, job-takers and rapists is what is creating an increasing uproar amongst the Muslim communities. This uproar is not radicalisation, it is defiance and anger at being treated unfairly. Poor media coverage of Islam is not turning us into radicals. Let me make that very, very clear.

Broadcasters such as the BBC thrive on sensationalist headlines but go out of their way to attempt to prove their lack of bias; sadly, in doing so, they make themselves look even more stupid. More often than not, I find myself having to write posts like this to justify a Muslim, such as myself, being completely thrown and disgusted by outright bigotry. Sadiq Khan is our new mayor of London; I, for one, voted for him and for many Pakistani Brits across London it is much more than a political achievement. It’s a step forward for us as a multi-cultural community to accept a Pakistani man leading our city, much to the disappointment of Islamophobic bigots.

I do not blame every white person for the acts of the KKK. Should I? Should I label all white citizens of London as racists? No, because I am educated. Reporting on events by drawing attention to their faith first is uneducated. Finally, assuming that terrorists represent Islam and Islamic teachings is uneducated, too.

I am a Muslim; I am defiant in my faith and beliefs. That doesn’t make me a radical.

Anisah

Thank you, Brandon

Thank you, Brandon

I’ve been following the Humans of New York (HONY) page on Facebook for a couple of years now and I’m still astounded everyday by the stories of strength, survival and resilience around the world. Recently, the founder of HONY and photographer, Brandon, has produced a series on paediatric cancer patients in New York, documenting the lives of cancer sufferers from the perspective of parents and patients.

All around the world and through social media we hear stories of cancer sufferers and their plight against the disease. So much so that the term ‘cancer’ is almost considered to be a taboo; whenever we hear the word we associate it with a death sentence. But what strikes me about these individual stories is the strength of the children who suffer with the disease on a daily basis, and their attitude towards it being nothing but positive. With their childhood almost robbed, they persevere with the determination to fight. Most of them don’t realise they’re sick, they consider themselves to be just the same as other children and that is what’s remarkable about these stories. It makes everything we complain about on a daily basis seem so mundane and minuscule in comparison to the sickness these young children fight everyday.

They’re an inspiration to us all. They show us that life isn’t too short at all, it’s too unpredictable to have a negative attitude towards. We ought to celebrate the good health we have and make the most of what life has to offer us. But we also ought to give the parents credit – those who remain as strong as they possibly can be for their children, because that in itself can only be debilitating, both emotionally and physically.

So thank you, Brandon, for making us realise how precious life is when you’re healthy. It’s something we take for granted all too easily. In the day-to-day rush of working or studying, we forget to appreciate what really matters. Our health, our families and each other. Thank you for giving these remarkable fighters a voice. They are the epitome of bravery. And they renew our faith in the health professionals who save lives everyday with their tireless efforts, as well as with God in His power to heal.

I urge as many of you as possible to donate money towards the MSK cancer centre and other charities; more money for these centres means more research facilities and a higher likelihood of finding cures for the devastating diseases.

And lastly, Brandon, we cannot commend you enough for all you do worldwide, from the refugee crisis in Syria to humanitarian crisis victims to cancer patients.

Brandon’s HONY blog: http://www.humansofnewyork.com

Donation page for the MSK Cancer Centre: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/let-s-help-dr-o-reilly-fight-pediatric-cancer

A x

Featured image: Stanton’s book cover ‘Humans of New York’ on amazon

This Middle Finger’s For You, Charlie

This Middle Finger’s For You, Charlie

I was utterly disgusted to learn that the so called ‘satirical’ magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has implicated all Muslims as terrorists. Not only is this categorisation eerily similar to the persecution of an ethnic minority we’ve one seen before (shoot me, I’ve brought up the Holocaust) but it’s also an entirely ignorant and, in my opinion, racist view of Muslims in general.

If someone called all French citizens undeniably racist, we’d have a serious uprising on our hands. If someone claimed every white person was responsible for the actions of the KKK, we’d have an even bigger uprising on our hands. It’s sickening to watch people stay quiet and quickly turn a blind eye whenever Muslims are being targeted and categorised. Fundamentally, it’s blatant ignorance of the highest degree and considering the Hebdo illustrations have been anything but respectful of Islam as of late, part of me is hardly surprised they stooped to this new low. However, it’s become increasingly concerning that a country has outright condemned all Muslims as being capable of mass murder. The not to subtle call to arms against all believers of Islam in the article is furthermore a worry to peaceful Muslims who naturally condemn any act of violence on humanity.

So, Charlie Hebdo, here’s what you can do instead of pointing the finger and playing the blame game. You can firstly question the government’s effectiveness in preventing terrorists – that is, people who distort and subvert Islam to their advantage in an attempt to justify murder as a form of establishing an Islamic State; NOT ALL MUSLIMS – from breeding in their own country. Secondly, you can stop giving said terrorists another reason to attack you. Inciting racial hatred is not exactly a smart move, considering the reason your country was attacked was because of the content of your magazine.

The world came together to unite against terrorism when Paris was attacked. Muslims came together to condemn the actions against your country. Is this what we get in return for standing in solidarity with you, against terrorism?

Je ne suis pas Charlie.

Anisah x

Featured Image: Independent Magazine

Pray for Pakistan; Pray for the World

Pray for Pakistan; Pray for the World

إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

It’s shocking to realise that suicide bomb attacks are becoming something of a recurrence across the world in our current society.

Yesterday, we learnt of an explosion in Lahore which left over 70 men, women and children dead in a park. My heart breaks for the innocent victims who paid the price for being in what we perceive to be a safe place at the wrong time. The Taliban have since claimed responsibility for the attack, but it begs the question; for what purpose? What message are they attempting to convey by killing families on a holiday weekend?

This deplorable act was clearly meticulously calculated with the intention to cause maximum damage. Nothing screams inhumanity like killing 30 children on a public holiday. It also begs the question: to what incomprehensible extent have these terrorists subverted and distorted Islam for their own gain, in order to find this act of atrocity justifiable?

Pakistan is in my prayers tonight. As is the rest of the world.

The only way we can fight terror is with unity.

A x

Save Our NHS: Fight the Junior Contract

I’m both saddened and appalled at the strikes going ahead over the next few weeks, but I support the junior doctors in their decision because I hope it serves as a wake up call to this blindly ignorant government.

Although this isn’t the first strike to take place over working hours, it’s shocking to see the government’s utter nonchalance at this whole situation, with Hunt instead referring to those striking as “trade union militants.” Junior doctors are striking against unjustifiable hours, and rightly so.

Three years ago, I held most junior doctors in utter contempt simply because of my experience in an NHS hospital which left me in an increasingly worrying state of health, both physically and mentally. The doctors I came across were completely unexperienced and out of their depth when they came to me, primarily because my body was rejecting all medication and they were at a loss as how to treat me. However, with 2015 being the year which saw my accident and emergency admissions at an all time high, I’ve come to realise that my experience three years ago was fundamentally due to the hospital and certainly isn’t an accurate representation of junior doctors over the country. They sacrifice everything for us and we tend to forget that a free health service is a luxury in many senses; free services, 24 hour emergency rooms, surgical intervention being free. Of course, there’s many downsides to the NHS which can be inferred as counteractive but the fact that these people are working day and night to help us is something we cannot and should not take for granted.

Hunt, along with the rest of this pathetically useless government, are dissuading the public from supporting the doctor’s strike by claiming harm will come to those with pre-booked appointments, particularly the elderly and cancer patients etc. Bullshit. The appointments have not been cancelled, they’ve been rebooked for a later date. If the patients were in such grave danger, surely they’d be admitted into hospital and be under the care of surgeons, registrars and senior consultants? Outpatient appointments have been affected but this is not the end of the world. It’s really not that big of deal compared to what these doctors endure daily. If we had even an inkling of what their schedules must be like, we’d hardly be kicking up a fuss and Hunt’s position would most definitely change. It’s very easy to criticise a strike when you won’t be remotely affected by the consequences of your own actions.

Hunt also claims that the lives of the public will be put in danger, but he’s failing to register, or possibly ignoring, the fact that lives will be in danger with overtired doctors. They’re more likely to make a mistake if they’re unsafely overworked. This kind of gross ignorance sums up the government. Surgeons, nurses, doctors, they’re all working incomprehensible hours out of their own goodwill, and a disregard for this is inhumane.

If anyone is to be blamed over this walkout, it’s David Cameron and his NHS cuts. The only people “damaging” patients’ health is this government.

I support the junior doctors, and their decision to oppose a cut in pay as well as overworking to the point of disregard for their own health.

#SaveOurNHS

#JuniorDoctorStrike

Racism: in 2015, in Life, in General

It’s sad to even contemplate that racism is still rife, and I’m noticing it now more than ever.

Living in the countryside, I understood the compromise I was going to have to make everyday; 90% of the citizens in my town are over the age of 40 and definitely not accustomed to seeing brown faces, let’s say. The pushing past me on the roads, pushing in front of me on public transport and the weird looks every single day is something I’ve just had to ignore if I wanted a peaceful life. To a variable extent, I have ignored it and made the most of my wonderful new home and the great views on my doorstep. Every now and then I’ll get a little sassy if someone is explicitly racist but so far, I haven’t had a showdown.

Recently, and interestingly more so after the Paris Attacks of 2015, racism has suddenly escalated to a frighteningly all time high; threats of violence, Trump’s Nazi-like approach to Muslims living in the USA, attacks on the Muslim community etc are never front page news but viral on the internet with people doing nothing about it other than re-posting and sharing the articles. We’re treated like third class citizens primarily due to the ideologies of less than 1% of the Muslim population, because a large majority of ignorant people in the world choose pick what they believe to be true rather than looking at facts and statistics. In other words, they’re blinded by their own racist views to even contemplate the possibility that, hey would you look at that, maybe every single brown person on this planet isn’t a terrorist.

The most frustrating aspect of this is how much I’ve noticed these discriminatory attitudes and been a victim of them at work. I thought working in London would be a walk in the park, with cultural and educated people coming into the store each day but annoyingly, it’s quite the opposite. Customers literally throw clothes at me if they don’t want or need them, even someone I work with racially insulted me and my grandparents, simply because of my skin colour, claiming we’re “stealing all [their] jobs.” It appalls me that these attitudes still exist and are something Muslims must grow accustomed to. No matter how much I have accomplished and achieved in my 19 years on this planet, one look at my skin colour has me judged as inferior to an ignorant and uneducated citizen.

I think it’s high time Muslims, and other ethnic minorities targeted by racism, should stand their ground against discrimination. There’s no excuse for it, and there never was; it was blindly ignored as no one wanted to be the minority standing up against the majority.

This is our country as much as yours. Yes, some of us are not the same colour as you. Yes, some of us are more educated and successful than you.

Get over it.

A x

Paris Attacks: November 2015

I am once again utterly appalled and disgusted at the tragedy which unfolded in Paris on Friday 13th November.

It’s incomprehensible how humans can kill innocent men, women and children in cold-blooded murder and not flinch. It’s also disgusting to hear reports that one of the attackers cried “Allahu Akbar” before shooting into a crowd of hostages in the Bataclan Concert Hall. Praising God before committing murder is inhumane and delusional to the highest degree; it goes against every principle Islam, and Muslims, stand for. Allah will not reward these terrorists and suicide bombers with paradise in the after life. They will be condemned and punished for unspeakable crimes against humanity.

The harrowing concept of terrorism is ever-increasing in today’s society, an atrocious fact leading to ignorance and fear which, when mixed together, leads to violence such as what we saw unfold on Friday. It’s imperative we understand now that these members of the Islamic State do NOT represent the entire population of Muslims and Islamic values/teachings. As we’ve witnessed a rise in terrorism and racial attacks, we’ve also witnessed a rise in racism and racial ignorance.

I’m a Muslim. I am not a terrorist. In fact, I am avid campaigner for racial equality amongst other humanitarian concerns. My close friend wears a hijab, and she finds herself repeatedly defending our religion for the growing number of imbeciles who associate terrorism with the entire Muslim population. Unfortunately, ignorance has a louder voice than the truth; we need to stop this and stand united against terror, not fragmented by uneducated assumptions.

It’s promising that France are re-evaluating their security systems. It’s been reported that a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers, allowing one to believe members of the IS attackers were immigrants hiding under the facade of refugees coming into Europe. What a disgusting, cowardice act. The world stands united against the attacks in Paris on Friday. We must remain united in the face of terror from hereon out. We simply cannot ignore terror rising around the world, in Serbia, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India etc.

IS: if you want to kill anyone, kill yourselves and leave it at that.

We continue to stand united against terror, and will continue to do so until the end of terror has been reached.

#PrayforParis #ParisAttacks #Paris2015 #WaronTerror

“Assisted Dying”, or “Assisted Killing?”

I’m incredibly disappointed to learn that 330 MPs rejected the idea of allowing a terminally ill patient to end their lives with medical supervision, despite many doctors agreeing to administer the drugs and take part in it.

I understand the cons of the bill; the possibility of vulnerable patients being exploited by their families and pushed to end their lives. That patients may feel the need to end their own life to stop the misery and pain of their loved ones. I get that. However, I am of the opinion that those 330 MPs acted with complete selfishness and possible religious bias.

I am not terminally ill, so I cannot speak for those who are. I also strongly oppose the categorisation of people who qualify for the ‘right to die’ – those who only have 6 months to live. What about everyone else? What about those who have been suffering from constant pain for months and even years on end? What about those with absolutely no quality of life? According to the Guardian, “one in five people who travel to Switzerland for assisted-dying are from the United Kingdom.” Surely the statistics speak for themselves?

I’ve watched and read a fair few interviews with people who suffer from motor neurone disease and their biggest fears were living a life of complete paralysis, wheelchair bound and in pain without the ability to speak coherently and express their distress. For MPs to deny these people that right to me, is a complete failure of morality within the establishment of law-making.

Another obstacle in this debate is the concept of religion. In many religions such as my own, it is forbidden to take one’s own life. Full stop. There are no ifs, no buts; just no. I understand that life is precious and a gift; we only get one and we ought to do all we can to preserve it. But I will never understand the point in living if there’s nothing to live for because an illness or health condition is prohibiting you from doing so, and instead you’re sentenced to a life of pain and misery.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the end of the debate on assisted dying. We ought to give these people a chance to do as they please with their own lives, as they’re the ones living it. Not us. For authoritative figures to simply dismiss this chance in the name of “ethics” is simply incomprehensible and morally unacceptable.

The Lynching of Farkhunda; The Lynching of Women

They portrayed her as a woman who suffered from mental illness, and was mentally unstable when all she was doing was standing up against lies being told in the name of religion. She was the voice of truth, of reason, and her voice was suppressed by men who believed their voices were louder, more important and should be listened to instead of hers.

I find it strange and slightly shocking that Farkhunda’s killers did not once question the mullah’s claims of the victim burning the Qur’an; they jumped to attack a woman, innocently defying a man who was selling lies to vulnerable women. I think the real issue here is the fundamental flaw in the Middle Eastern society; the male attitude towards women. Women have always been perceived as inferior in society; in many, they still do.

However, I believe that the despicable attitude towards women in countries such as Afghanistan is predominately due to the cultural conditioning men are exposed to. They know no other way of treating women, this is the attitude they have adopted from their fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles. Not all men have this attitude, but the society
cannot move forward unless there is a reformation of this culture.
Afghanistan has suffered at the hands of violence for years, could it be that these men who killed Farkhunda are a product of the violence in which they have been raised – because they know nothing else? Can we find it in ourselves to forgive them because it’s not really their fault?
I think not.
I think it takes a great lack of human nature in order to punch, kick, stand on and jump on a young woman until her face is unrecognisable, only to then SET FIRE to her body at a riverside. I don’t believe for one second that these men have a conscience or humanity.

An educated woman was condemned to death by a group of men who believed the lies of a man who could not bear to be
defied, confronted for manipulating young women. The fact that an official investigator claimed there was no evidence for the mullah’s claims of Farkhunda burning the Qur’an (BBC News, 24th March) reinforces the male perception of women. The mullah, along with the barbaric murders, took it upon themselves to take away a life. The heavy irony of this situation is that Farkhunda was accused of blasphemy, and in the name of Islam, the men killed her. An act of murder is a sin in the Qur’an;

Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men;
and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men.(Surah al-Mā’ida 5:32)

Farkhunda was murdered for speaking out.
Her voice was silenced through horrific violence.
A mob of men killed her and showed no mercy or remorse.
It’s time to reform the outdated culture in the Middle East and Asia.
Women should not have to be killed for us to realise that it is time for change.

#JusticeForFarkhunda
#Kabul
#JusticeForWomen

Perspective

It’s all a matter of perspective.
We cry about failed relationships and write poetry about bloodstains on our bathroom floors.
But what the blood splatter from that young child in Gaza, who was gunned down in a playground for being Palestinian? ‘Collateral damage’, they murmur with shifting gazes.
And let’s not forget the innocent men and women slaughtered by police for the colour of their skin.
Or the journalists who were decapitated for simply doing their job in informing and protecting the world, once camera reel at a time.
Have some perspective.
Let’s forgive those who’ve wronged us, and fight the institutions that oppress and condemn us, instead of each other.