“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/

#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

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

The Saudi Experience

Current Affairs, Original Writing

Whenever people hear that I’ve come back from Saudi, I’m usually greeted with a raised eyebrow, an uncomfortable side glance or a “really? Saudi?” I thought I’d shed some light on my experience there, culturally, not just spiritually.

Firstly, the strictness people associate with Saudi Arabia is relatively accurate, but this is fundamentally due to a strictness in cultural lifestyle. Additionally, what we in the West may consider to be “strict” is the norm for them. More and more often, I find myself talking to people who condemn the lack of freedom in their dress code; it’s conflicting, because on the one hand, it’s completely irrational to dispute another country’s cultural values when you don’t live there yourself. However, the lack of freedom for women is a growing concern within the East, especially in Saudi Arabia with more women desperately seeking freedom, independence and the desire to become something greater than a daughter, wife and mother. While it’s not exactly desirable being covered from head to toe in black garments in 35 degree heat, it respects the religious values of the kingdom, especially with it being an Islamic country.

Furthermore, it’s also imperative to understand the differentiation between orthodox Muslims and liberal Muslims: the latter of which is increasingly growing in the East. Once girls get their first period, they’re required to ‘veil’ – wear a burqa and niqab (face veil). As this necessity doesn’t extend to all Muslim countries and is not obligatory within Islam, it therefore becomes a cultural aspect of living in Saudi Arabia for the orthodox. Whilst some see the burqa as oppressive, other see it as liberating. This conflict is also very evident with Saudi women. Hearing stories of women’s experiences in Saudi, I’ve come to understand that women breaking the moulds set to confine them to their gender. The age of stay-at-home wives and daughters is slowly coming to an end as young members of the Saudi royal family are seen to be wearing jeans and dresses instead of the traditional burqa. Maybe we’ll see a drastic increase in western clothing becoming a prominent part of Saudi culture in a few years.

Finally, whilst on my travels I noticed the undeniable amount of wealth Arabs are born into. From families of seven travelling in first class on flights around the world to hands and necks adorned with gold, it’s clear that the rich, have a good life out there. Yet, when you pass a shopping centre and turn onto a side road, slums slowly come into view with children sitting outside, begging for money whilst the elders take refuge in the shade. They’re not wealthy enough to afford a fan, or pay electricity bills. This paradox of extreme wealth juxtaposed with extreme deprivation within metres of each other brings to light just how little is being done for the people of Saudi, 15% of which live in poverty. Since the assassination of King Faisal, a King who had great ideas for Saudi in his plans to liberate the country and introduce more freedom and independence as well as financial reform designed to help the people, the country has digressed. The royal family live with an abundance of wealth at their fingertips: the people’s money. Instead of projecting this wealth onto poorer parts of the country, helping eradicate poverty and poor living standards for those who can afford very little, the royal family are seen to be travelling across the world, to their villas in Spain and Cannes or apartments in central London.

My love for Makkah and Medina stems from a spiritual enlightening I gained whilst on my pilgrimage. My love cannot extend to Saudi Arabia as a whole, simply because of the explicit inequality which is grossly overlooked by the country’s wealth as a whole. The people’s money is not being used effectively. Women are awfully restricted in that they still cannot drive; if they don’t hold a valid driving license, they cannot vote. They’re required to travel with a chaperone. They cannot take part in criminal proceedings as they’re considered forgetful and too emotional. Saudi has a long way to go to achieve gender equality and freedom; something which may never be achieved, predominately due to Wahhabi sects exercising their beliefs on how one should live their lives as a true Muslim. It’s the 21st century, but it appears Saudi are still centuries behind.

A x

 

Mental vs Physical Health

Current Affairs, Original Writing

I was reading up on the law recently (as one does in their free time, of course) and something struck me as particularly concerning.

Context: I was looking to apply for my student loan for this September when I visited the Disability Allowance section. I have no physical disability (minus asthma but I don’t really consider that a disability in the scheme of things) but I wondered if suffering from mental health conditions qualified as a disability in the eyes of the law and if it did, to what extent?

Here’s the tricky part; it does. Kind of. From studying law at college, I remember how important it is to pay close attention to the use of particular diction in legislation. For example, the Equality Act 2010 specifically states that a disabled person must “have an impairment that is either physical or mental… must have adverse effects which are substantial, long-term and affects normal day-to-day activities.” If all factors stated above are met, the person is thereby classified as disabled, legally. But what is classified as an “impairment?” Can mild forms of mental health conditions still be classified as impairments?

The issue I have with this legislation is that there is an awful lot of grey area with regards to what can be classified as a disability and where the line is drawn between disability and an “impairment” which does not warrant the term disability. Usually, an act will define its own terms. For example, they’ll say something along the lines of “used in its ordinary meaning.” However, there is an element of subjectiveness and discretion in this act. Nevertheless, there is very little subjectiveness associated with physical disability. In the act, examples are given of where there should be no deliberation over disability; specifically, an obese woman who has trouble breathing because she’s overweight. The law  points out that the reason behind her breathing difficulties (her obesity) should NOT be referenced. She is automatically classified as disabled, due to her breathing problems. Fair enough.

However, when looking into the mental health aspect of this law, I came across a sticking point. As per the act, in order to be classified as disabled, one’s “impairment” must affect one’s daily life as well as being a long-term condition. In particular, the act uses an example of social anxiety and panic attacks; it states that if a person’s anxiety is so severe that it warrants having to travel at certain times of the day to avoid the rush hour then yes, they are classified as disabled. However, if one doesn’t need to make changes, to their routine for example, in accordance to their condition, it is not classified as an impairment, nor is it classified as debilitating enough to warrant the term “disability.”

This stood out to be as considerably worrying due to the high percentage of people who suffer from mental health conditions in silence because they’ve known nothing else. For sufferers of severe mental health conditions, there are certain requirements within the field of treatment which contribute to their condition being a disability. But what about those who suffer from mild anxiety, mild social anxiety, mild depression etc? Where do they stand in the eyes of the law? Where do I stand, someone who is still overcoming their health condition day by day, without altering anything in their routine?

Ultimately, this all comes down to the fact that mental and physical health will never be treated equally. Ironic, considering the name of the above act. The act states that cancer and HIV are automatically classed as a disability (rightly so) thereby reiterating a distinction and distinct lack of equality between mental and physical health. There should not be any grey area in the law regarding mental health, if there is no element of subjectivity for physical disabilities. That is unfair not to mention unequal. Until schizophrenia is treated with the same importance as cancer, we will be stuck in a unequal society, trapped by the stigmatisation of mental health.

A x

Syria Air Strikes

Current Affairs

The result of the Syria Vote has pretty much summed up David Cameron’s attitude towards terrorism, innocent war-torn victims and the general public, including those who stupidly elected him.

After signing a petition, with over 179,000 other members of the public against the Syrian air strikes, I was utterly disgusted to hear our government’s final decision. Cameron’s arrogance at going ahead with launching attacks on Syria is fundamentally fuelled by his ego; he doesn’t want to be seen doing nothing so he does the next best thing – bombing. In many ways, its hardly surprising. He’s following in the footsteps of Blair and Bush who caused a war in which the vacuum of terror expanded. I’m struggling to understand how Cameron came to this decision knowing that air strikes on Syria will furthermore put British society at risk of terror  attacks.

The decision also shows an utter disregard for human life. The blood of innocent Syrian men, women and children is already on his hands as recent footage has shown mass casualties. A river of blood running down an destroyed town, men crying “what is my fault” to cameramen and parents picking up their children’s lifeless bodies from rubble. It’s imperative to note how the airstrikes targeted civilians, with ISIS bases nowhere near casualty sites.

I’m ashamed to live in a country where a prime minister has made such a reckless decision which he believes is for our safety. We’ve let Syria down when they were most vulnerable and in need of our help. David Cameron’s exploitation of the vulnerable has reflected in his choices as Prime Minister, from the cuts to mental health care services and NHS funding, treatment of working class citizens and now this.

Sadly, we’re living in a society where people in power believe the answer to terrorism is more terrorism. And by doing so, we’ve increased the problem. The deaths of Syrian civilians is NOT collateral damage. Instead of fighting a war against terror, Cameron has opted to fight Syria. I hope he can live with the increased threat he’s introduced on our society as well as on innocent civilians in Syria.

Oh, and David? The fact that we’re supporting a country you’ve agreed to obliterate is not “terror sympathising” as you put it. It’s called humanitarian duty: to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Panorama: 26th October 2015 – Britain’s Mental Health Crisis

Current Affairs, Original Writing

After watching Panorama’s recent documentary tonight, I’m absolutely appalled at the state of mental health care. Of course, this is not the first reminder of the terrible state the government cuts have reduced the trusts to, but it’s an imperative reminder to all of us that we need to raise awareness for those vulnerable citizens silenced by their psychological disorders.

Firstly, the assessment of those “less ill” to free more beds for furthermore patients. Sickening. A patient who had the intention of committing suicide at a train station shouldn’t be “assessed” on whether or not they’re worthy of a bed: this is nonnegotiable. Vulnerable citizens are silenced due to their psychological conditions which is the most shameful fact of all. I’ve said this before in my last post regarding mental health and I’ll say it again: a cancer patient, or a terminally ill patient, will not be refused a bed, neither will they be “assessed” on how unwell they are. They’d be given a bed as soon as possible, with the professionals working as hard as they can to get them on the road to recovery, or at least to make sure they’re not suffering as much. Why aren’t mental health patients treated with this urgency?

How can patients, who are assessed to be suffering from their health conditions to a great extent, but not as great as other patients, say suicidal, be cast out into the community with no social help or support system to rely on if they relapse? Where’s the security that they’ll be helped if they ever feel vulnerable or have a bad day? This isn’t just a disgrace, it’s an atrocity and complete disregard for mental health sufferers.

Fundamentally, patients are judged on their suffering. As someone who’s been rushed to Accident and Emergency 11 times over the past two years with multiple health conditions, I know that patients are assessed on how much pain they’re in. The more pain you’re in, the quicker you are treated. As a sufferer of anxiety which almost crippled me to not leaving my house for weeks on end, my parents and I felt I had no choice but to receive private help as my condition was too serious to be thrown onto a waiting list. Which could take months. This is where the problem lies, and where it will continue to lie until the stigma attached to mental health has dissolved. Most of us cannot afford private healthcare, let alone private mental healthcare. How can the government expect a patient to pay £1000 a day to receive help and support which needs to be offered free, and is easily accessible?

I urge as many of you as possible to sign the petition below, which, if 100,000 signatures are received, the parliament will be obliged to take action and debate the bed crisis.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109889

This is an increasingly concerning situation and we are all ambassadors for those in need of our support and help. Together we can make a difference, and we will.

A x

PS: Follow my twitter @_anisahhamid for more tweets regarding this.

FERGUSON

Original Writing

The officer who shot Michael Brown was not indicted on the grounds of self-defence.
Michael Brown was shot six times.
Michael Brown had his hands up in the air when he was shot.
Michael Brown did not provoke the officer.
Michael Brown was shown to be significantly agressive with a shopkeeper, and shoplifited a packet of cigarettes.
Michael Brown should have been appropriately prosecuted and remanded for this.
Michael Brown should not have been murdered.
Not for this. Not for anything.
Lives matter. Black or white or of any colour.
There is no justice in America, if a police officer can walk free after murdering a teenage boy.