Monday morning thoughts 

  • Is it acceptable to be a Beliber now?
  • Is Adele going to wait till she’s 30 for her next album?
  • Why is the man near me talking so much so early in the morning?
  • How on earth will I get out of the Christmas party to make it to an event I’m speaking at? I shouldn’t have pulled a sickie last week – would have been useful this week!
  • Will I survive another week with no coffee? (I don’t usually drink coffee but this is getting more and more difficult with each passing day)

And the Monday morning pickup:

Britney Spears got through 2007, you can get through today! – Unknown

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Being a strong women

I think my mum is depressed. She asked me “why don’t I feel happiness inside?” And with those words I felt a little piece of me shatter as I realised she was the strong brown women. The unbreakable, not allowed to tremor.

I assume it began with the trauma of coming to a foreign land in the hope of a better life for her unborn children. Leaving her parents, siblings and the world she knows behind. Coming to this cold place where they never accept her, shout abuse and all she can do is smile back.

My dad beat her, emotionally tortured her and abused her children. This was not a secret – everyone knew. She had to bring us up on her own because dad was never around. He was earning the money but he’d keep her on a budget. She never treated herself. But the expectation is you stick with your husband for the sake of the children. And you pray for him. And you pray for yourself. And you keep going.

When mum had the strength to leave him, the whole community turned their backs on her. She heard people she did not even know talk about her. She worries about no one marrying her daughters because of it. She worries about her son growing up to be a d*ck and people blaming her for it. Her worries never stopped when the man left.

Our mums – black and brown women – expected to carry our burdens on their shoulders. They are the mythological superwoman: infallible, resilient, machines. Protect their men even when they betray them. Protect their children, their parents, their siblings. Our families include all our cousins – even 5 times removed.

But who looks out for them? Who asks them if they’re coping? If their shoulders need a break? You’re so strong, so brave they say. Keep smiling through the tears they advice. Poor mental health is not seen as an option. You keep praying. And you keep going.

Now prayer is a powerful thing. It has got me through the worst of times and I thank it for my best of times. But that does not mean poor mental health does not require treatment. You would not cut your finger off but just pray for it to fix itself.

But even my mum – the strongest women I know – refuses to get help. Perhaps because she doesn’t know what help could even be. She doesn’t want to take psychotics. And why does she need to speak to anyone when she can speak to God? It’s as if seeking help is admitting defeat and breaking the oath we are born into. The oath to care about everyone else’s needs and to carry all their pain.

And then there’s me, another brown women. Baring the weight of my mother’s pain, my sisters’ pains, my brothers’ pain. Now financially supporting my family because the tax man has decided my mum is not a single parent and so does not deserve benefits (they believe my dad still lives with us and won’t believe otherwise). Worrying about the my brother’s grades. Worrying about him being accused of being a terrorist because he is a brown boy with a beard. Worrying about my sisters getting their hearts broken. Worrying about my families, my friends, my world. Another strong girl doomed to be a strong women.

What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person – John Green, Paper Towns

#IAM: islamophobia awareness month 

As I waited for the train this morning I felt disturbingly aware of my surroundings. Did that man just glare at me? Is that women charging towards me? Why do those group of kids keep looking at my direction?

I felt genuine fear. I didn’t know if I should call someone or if getting my phone out would make me more vulnerable. Islamophobia is making me paranoid.
And I know it’s not just me. A good friend has asked her mum to not go out for a few weeks. She chooses to wear the face veil and had a man attack her. Can you imagine, being trapped in your own home. I would not know how I would cope if anything happened to my mum. Heartbreaking. Another friend of mine was spat at in the street as he walked home. Imagine people who think of you as such subpar and with such disgust that they can spit at you. Revolting. A woman was bottled in the street a few days ago just because she was visibly Muslim – choosing to wrap a scarf around her head. Terrifying.

This month is Islamophobia Awareness Month. The point of it is just make people aware just how real islamophobia is. It is not people playing the race card or making a big deal out of nothing. It is heartbreaking, revolting and terrifying. And it is the reality of Muslims all around the world.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9YX_yxylZqc

Write a status, blog or tweet about how islamophobia has affected you with the hashtag #IAM. Let’s share our stories, they’re real and should be heard.
And for those of you who has not experienced islamophobia yourself, ask your Muslim friends how their journey home was recently, offer to hear their fears, be a good friend.

If you’d like to find out more, check out these events FOISIS (below) and MEND (their website) have organised.  

No justice, no peace

A popular mantra repeated again and again by those facing injustice.

After the state kills yet another person with no one held to blame. No justice. When whole communities are obliterated for the hunt of one man. No justice. When people running away from said bombs are denied safety. No justice. When yet another loved one is brutalised but it takes more than 5 years of fighting for an inquest to take place and an eternity to find out what actually happened. No justice. When women and children seeking asylum because they are escaping trauma are locked up as criminals. No justice. When a woman finds the courage to stand up in court and name her abuser but is not believed. No justice. When our academics and mentors are fired for speaking out and demanding change so we don’t become another statistic: 80% unable to complete PHDs, 20% less likely to get a 1st or 2:1 (needed for most graduate schemes) – in both cases coming in with the same grades as our white-counterparts. No justice. When politicians you vote in on a mandate are able to break promises. No justice. When fascists can march in our streets, threaten our lives, because it is their right but we are arrested and spied on for even believing in the same rights. No justice.

No justice. No justice. No justice.

No peace. No peace. No peace.

And this is seen as a demand – a threat. No, it is simply a matter of fact.

How can there be any peace without justice? Would you feel peace if you were wronged? Would you feel peace if your family, your friend, your people were wronged? Their rights denied? Their lives seen as collateral? So why do they expect anything else?

For there to be peace there needs to be the acceptance of this statement. There needs to be accountability. Accountability of the state when it kills another person, when they go to war despite strong opposition from the people and guidance against it. Accountability of the media for spreading hate and lies which lead to women getting bottled in the street, granddads getting murdered on their walks home, women getting pushed onto moving trains.

There needs to be naming, shaming and learning. And then, and only then, will there be peace.

This eye for an eye merry-go-round that the imperialistic states are implementing is not going to get us anywhere. We all prayed for Paris. Who is praying for Syria?

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom – Malcolm X

On the Paris Bombings: pray for the world

What happened in Paris last night was awful. I stayed up late following the news in disbelief and I am so sorry to anyone who has been affected by thee horrible attacks. The international community has responded, as predicted, by showing their unwavering solidarity with Paris.

The night before that, a bomb went off in my country, Lebanon, killing 43 people. No one prayed for us. No one kept us in their thoughts. No world leaders made late-night statements about us. No one changed their profile pictures. There was no hashtag. No option to be “marked as safe” by Facebook. Just silence.

Syria has suffered more than can be quantified in words and distilled into a Facebook status. They get nothing. Just more silence.

73 Palestinians were killed by Israel in October alone. Silence.

Nearly 100 people were killed by explosions at a peace rally in Ankara last month. Just silence.

At least 3,500 people have been killed in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger in conflict this year. Silence.

I’m not even angry at this point, just tired. Exhausted. Exhausted that an assault on an open air prison like Gaza which leaves 2300 people dead gets little to no attention but the minute something happens in Europe, something happens to white people, everyone is so (I think quite genuinely) broken up about it.

I’m not saying don’t be. I’m not saying that the people who lost their lives last night do not deserve to be mourned because of course they do. They were innocent and now they are dead. As an Arab, we know better than anyone how it hurts and we should all continue to keep them in our thoughts. But what about us? Don’t we deserve to be mourned? Are we not human enough? Are we too Arab for you? Too black for you? Too Other for you? Do you find it impossible to empathise with us because of the colour of our skin? There’s a word for that.

And then, after all of this, after all is said and done. After it hits us, just how little we matter. Just how insignificant and inferior we are as human beings. That’s when the best part comes. My favourite part.

Apologise. We are told to apologise. It is demanded of us. WE need to apologise for the actions of barbarians who have been doing their worst to us for so long now. We are the victims. What you experience at the hands of these extremists is a fraction of what Syria experiences. Of what Lebanon experiences. We put up with it every single day. And now, in some kind of sick, twisted joke, we are asked to apologise. We are to be held accountable. The main victims and refugees of this tragedy must pay. As if we have not yet paid enough in blood and land and dignity.

Sorry. We’re sorry that you have occupied our lands, pillaged them, divvied them up between you like gold. We’re sorry that you’ve robbed us of our wealth, dignity and freedom. We’re sorry that you’ve left nothing in your wake except rubble and anger. We’re sorry that those disillusioned and disenfranchised people you left in your wake hurtle into extremism. We’re sorry that you benefit from their barbarity. We’re sorry that you allow them to do these things to us, that you encourage them and provide them with the resources they need to do us harm. We’re sorry they turn against you in the end. We’re sorry they come back for you. We’re sorry. We hope you can find it in you to forgive us. – Roua Naboulsi, Lebanese student 

On the Paris bombings: the terror

My heart is heavy mourning the 158 lives lost so far and the many more lives shattered. The families and friends, the communities, the businesses and livelihoods. I remember the 7/7 bombings here in London – the absolute shock that rippled through and tore away so much.

And I am terrified for my brothers and sisters living in France, and to be honest – the rest of Europe. Paris is already a difficult place to be visibily Muslim and I can only imagine how much worse it can get. When you had a man pushing a women dressed in hijab onto a moving tube a few days ago in London and none of the mainstream newspapers reporting it, it makes you wonder what else will happen now. And at a time with so many Muslim refugees stranded in the jungle, what will happen to them?

How has this become so common that after such a tragedy which should consume all my thoughts, I think of the terror that will come after it? Waves and waves of terror – children bullied, women attacked, people who will be unable to get jobs.

And once again I am terrified at the capacity of humans to hurt other humans. I do wonder if the mental health of the men were intact. And I pray it wasn’t. For to think someone with good mental health could plan and execute a massacre on innocent humans does not bare thinking about.

I pray you all stay safe and those affected will have their faith restored.  

Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words cut me deeper

I was going through my notes on my phone, deleting things that don’t mean anything anymore. And then across a note I had last updated in 19th January 2013. They contain the words of my ex. Words he would say whilst we were arguing. And I’d write them down so I would not go back to him but like a fool I always did. Even after all those years they still hurt and I’m so disappointed in myself for staying with it for so long.

Finally those words are deleted out of my life. And slowly but surely I am deleting the memorise of him out too.

Once a whore always a whore

Your tears don’t mean shit to me. You look pathetic when you cry

You’re such a pathetic little shit

What I said, ok it was wrong, but see how angry YOU make me?

Don’t call me again or I’ll chuck my phone in your face

Me: I love you

You: Whatever, bye

Being a Suspect

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.
But I do worry. Those believing we live in a completely unbiased world are ignorant or plain wrong.

If we were, there would not be 1518 deaths in the hands of the police in the UK (mental health hospitals, back of their vans, in their stations) in just the last 25 years with 0 convictions – of mostly black and brown bodies. Think about this for a second. More than a 1000 people murdered – no one charged for it. If this was any other group we would call them what they are – corrupt and a terrorist organisation.

If we were it would not be only Muslim men who are extradited without trial or charge – even when white men accused of the same crimes are not. A white women being islamophobic would get just as much response as when a black women was – same story: different outcome.

There is a climate of fear, created by the media and politicians. A fear of loosing something that cannot really be lost. Loosing British values – even though no one seems to really know what that is. Democracy? Britain is ruled by a family who are born into that position and our laws get decided by people who are born into or given that privilege. The rule of law? When the police themselves are not held accountable and the law is so subjective and changes with time how can this be an accurate measure of values? Homosexual relationships were outlawed just a few years ago and same-sex marriage was made legal in my own lifetime (with our current Equalities Minister voting against it). Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs? When the reports of islamophia has doubled – and let’s be honest, how many of us bother to even report when the police don’t care, when the media are allowed to be islamophobic – what is so mutual about it?

I don’t trust the state to listen and understand.

If you’re arrested under terrorism law, the courts do not even tell you what you’ve been accused of. How is your lawyer meant to fight your case? Imagine a taxi driver reported to the police because he had a little Quran hanging from his window in his car. His house raided at 5 in the morning. Him having to go through deradicalisation training. True story. Imagine a student who downloads a copy of a book on terrorism that the library already owns. He gets reported and his university do nothing to support him. True story. Imagine a man doing community work in Afghanistan, arrested and detained in a maximum security prison known to do torture for 13 years without a trial or charge. True story.

Find out about more true stories here.

I don’t have anything to hide but I am Muslim so I do have something to worry about. I am a suspect and will not even be given a chance to prove my innocence.