“Qatar-strophe”

Current Affairs

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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Aleppo’s Lost Children

Current Affairs, Original Poetry

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.

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

Current Affairs

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.

Eid Mubarak!

Current Affairs

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

#Brexit

Current Affairs

“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

Brock Turner: Convicted Rapist

Current Affairs

I stand completely horrified and at a loss of words at the recent decision made in prosecuting “aspiring athlete” Brock Turner, a student at Stanford University, who raped a student whilst she was unconscious. His conviction was an embarrassing six month sentence in prison, of which he may only serve half. 3 months in prison for raping a girl because she wasn’t conscious to stop him.

I’ve read multiple reports justifying the (lack of) conviction of the rapist, Turner, with one being it’s legally not classified as “rape” as she was unconscious and therefore couldn’t NOT give consent… The absurdity of this makes my head hurt. If this is the case, serious changes ought to be made to the legal system whereby we concentrate on the legal definition of “rape” to include denying a woman the right to consent. What’s furthermore worrying is the fact that this is being used as an excuse to justify such a ridiculously lenient sentence. Yes, Turner had no prior criminal convictions, and he may have had good character references but the fact remains, he is still and always will be a rapist now. Another justification by the Judge, Aaron Persky, for a short sentence was because prison would severely impact the rapist¹. Judge, I think that’s what we’re all hoping for –  a severe impact on a rapist who took the choice of consent from a girl so he could engage in sexual intercourse with her.

The real issue at the forefront of most minds is the correlation between race and prison sentence, and the privilege that comes with being wealthy and white in America. Apparently, it puts you above the law. Aaron Persky, and Dan Turner, father of Brock Turner, have both set out the example that rape is okay – if you’re white. A girl will now face the rest of her life knowing that justice has not been served for a crime against her; that her right to say no was stripped from her, and the perpetrator shall not pay the price, because he’s too delicate. We must ask ourselves what would be different had the athlete been black, Middle Eastern or South Asian? A tougher prison sentence, for one. No remorse, either, I imagine. Judge Persky has brushed a rape of an unconscious woman under the carpet by labelling it as a “drunken mistake” which suffices as mitigating circumstances and thus results in virtually no prison time. What an abhorrent example this sets for our generation, and the future.

I do not care that Brock Turner was an aspiring athlete. That’ll never change what he’s done to his victim; she may never recover from his attack. Turner’s father wrote a letter to the judge which sickened majority of the population; he showed an utter disregard for his son’s attack and instead attempted to draw significant attention to Turner’s character. It’s concerning to see someone show almost no remorse for his son’s actions in comparison to the apparent trauma his son is now enduring. You cannot blame “party culture” for Turner’s rape, either; it was Brock Turner’s choice to commit a sexual attack on a vulnerable woman. He took advantage of her and he must serve his time accordingly.

A further chilling aspect to the Stanford Rape Case is the Turners’ quick decision to hire private investigators and the most expensive lawyers in order to save Turner’s reputation. For a rapist to take the stand and claim he believed his victim was “enjoying” being raped by him, and his desperate attempt to appear “confused” instead of a rapist makes us all shudder in simultaneous disgust and disbelief. Dan Turner even commented on Twitter, saying his son now suffers from “anxiety and depression.” That’s the least he deserves for this crime. There appears to be not a single expression of remorse or guilt by the rapist; a girl can now no longer live her life the way she planned because her future was snatched from her by a boy who will serve only three months in prison for it.

It’s horrifying that cases such as this are common worldwide; I can only pray the victim finds peace within herself and with life. However, I hope she takes some solace in knowing that men and women worldwide are publicly condemning the conviction. She represents the countless victims of sexual assault and rape, who’ve been silenced by the justice system. We are with you, and we will always fight for you. Henceforth, this case will be defined and dominated by people worldwide fighting for justice for people who have suffered at the hands of rapists and sexual predators. We have no interest in Brock Turner’s life pre-rape: by God’s grace, he’ll be stripped of all his privileges and future aspirations.

We all want justice – for you.

The victim’s statement can be found here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/stanford-rape-case-brock-turner-victims-statement-a7074246.html

Sources:

¹http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/06/father-stanford-university-student-brock-turner-sexual-assault-statement

Featured image: http://www.vox.com/2016/6/10/11904740/brock-turner-stanford-assault-pastor-letter

Terrorism Ignored

Current Affairs

Britain First Target Muslim Elected Officials Including Sadiq Khan In ‘Direct Action Campaign’

Britain First (even the name makes me cackle a little) have decided to launch a campaign against Muslim “elected officials” in their attempt to ban Islam in the United Kingdom.

Firstly, BF have “intelligence” which confirms our Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is a terrorist. Secondly, they have threatened to target these elected officials through “militant direct action.” What I fail to understand is why they want to ban one religion; surely, if they wanted Britain to become a Christian country, they’d eradicate all other religions, too? This is my first example of the comical irony that is Britain First.

A political party have declared they are going to attack elected officials because they’re all either related to or are extremists. They are calling on the general public to come together to attack. They encourage people to confront Muslims on the street. They’re inciting racial hatred. Now, anyone with half a brain will know that Britain First stands for nothing more than racist bigotry, but what frustrates me is that no one takes the threats as seriously as they would if a Muslim community would say such things.

Furthermore, the West has started to pick and choose what they define as “terrorism.” For example, the War on Gaza; I admit, in the past I have been particularly and unfairly biased towards Palestine fundamentally because as a Muslim, I’m easily influenced if I see fellow Muslims being slaughtered, especially young children. I know that both sides are not innocent and Hamas have done more than their fair share of projecting violence towards Israel. However there are examples of terrorism in Israel’s methods of occupation and war tactics. One is when Israeli forces blocked in and isolated Ni’lin, a village on the West Bank; as a result of this, Palestinians were denied food, water and ate; essentially, they were starving out until they died. This was not aired on the news.

Another example of selective news airing: 300 Syrians were allegedly killed in a massacre orchestrated by the Islamic State in January 2016. It was reported that 85 civilians were confirmed dead, with 50 troops killed, too. This took place over 24 hours; a shocking massacre. This was not aired on the news.

In my previous post, I wrote about bias in the media against Muslims in particular; the Western media, such as the BBC, will only ever report on events which concern them. And they’ll omit significant facts in order to manipulate the masses. During the Paris attacks in November 2015, a worker at the attacked cafe Casa Nostra, Safer, rescued two heavily injured women when the firing began, escorting them to the basement where he ultimately saved their lives. This story was hardly mentioned on social media, and not at all by news broadcasters, however, a month-long analysis of the attacks was aired without any hesitation.

Persecuting citizens due to their religion, race or culture is terrorism, regardless of where it is in the world. The Holocaust was so heavily condemned, so why aren’t these acts of inhumane violence treated the same? The hypocrisy will always astound me. The media and those who believe every single word they hear on the television or on the internet need to open their eyes. Think for yourself, instead of allowing thoughts to be dictated to you.  Think of who is talking to you on the internet, or on TV. We’re intentionally blinded by what others do not want us to know.

A x

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/britain-first-muslim-elected-officials_uk_574352c4e4b0e71ef36d9617

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBritainFirst/videos/1028797760598818/

https://www.facebook.com/Saeed.Amireh/posts/10154288735819447

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/17/dozens-killed-by-islamic-state-in-massacre-in-syrian-city-of-deir-ezzor

http://tribune.com.pk/story/992354/meet-the-muslim-restaurant-worker-who-saved-two-women-during-paris-attacks/

http://www.ibtimes.com/who-lassana-bathily-muslim-immigrant-who-saved-jewish-hyper-cacher-customers-talks-2255256

Does Media Bias Against Muslims Feed Into Radicalisation?

Current Affairs

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