News and thoughts 

The last few months have been an onslaught of news – the systematic rise of democratically and legal oppression. Everything from Trump (and how much of a focus there was on the individual rather than the mainstream ideology he represents) followed by the #MuslimBan to the recent EU hijab ban. It’s all been a tidal wave of news after fake news. Exhausting. 

So I have stayed away from it all. I have been doing a lot of thinking – around the political climate we find ourselves in, whether there can be hope in all this – we have seen successes and a uniting of people’s in ways we haven’t seen, when is violence acceptable (following the split in opinion over the punching of the far-right “alt-right” leader), and why are people forced to prove themselves worthy of humanity for people to care (where doctors being affect by the #MuslimBan were seen as more worthy of their citizenship compared to a house wife on welfare for example). 

And I appreciate the above is all a word vomit. Especially on a day like today when we mourn the death of innocent people and wonder again what happened to humanity.  

On our screens we see a hatefilled terrorist who murdered and hurt too many innocent lives. And it’s painful – the waste and cruelty of it all. So twisted and confusing. MUSLIM TERRORIST they shout as soon as they see brown skin. No further evidence needed. It seems this has now been proven false and it is still unknown whether this was a politically motivated attack. 

But news is news, who needs facts when propaganda material is so readily available. Let us headline Tommy Robinson, not an expert not witness but someone who blames “Asian culture” and “Islam” for what happened. 

And I am filled in deep sorrow knowing what is to come. The increase in racism and islamophobia – spitting on the streets, girls hijabs pulled off their head, old men beaten up as they return home from prayer. The strengthing of racist and islamophobic laws. The fuel required by the rising powers to keep on rising. Towering over us with their watchful eyes as they strip away our rights and justice. 

Tighten the borders they should. *But he was born here*. Ship them all out is what they mean. 

And no one will say anything because they are scared. 
Any hope is hard to muster and I can’t help but know darker days are to come

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Numbers and places 

The lives lost simply numbers and places. No photos. No names. No stories. But each and every one of them is a person like you and I. With families and loved ones. With livelihoods and paths they crafted for themselves. Destinies and dreams. This is just too many. Before we can even be done mourning there’s another one. Another death count. We hold our breaths praying it’s not someone we know. For if it’s not someone we know then they’re just a number.

We write a message online and send our prayers. Create a hashtag. #PrayforTurkey #PrayforBangladesh #PrayforIraq. And then we forget until the next and then the next.

And of course if it’s in the global south then we will forget very soon. Only the ones with roots there will know or care to know. No flags, no vigils, no news coverage. If it’s in the west we will mourn a little longer. But they too will be forgotten soon.

Unless it is your home, your friends, your family. Just numbers and places. Far away stories of evil men (and it is always men) continue. But it’s ok. We can breath, it’s not us. This time.

May Allah accept the fallen as martyrs and bring peace to their loved ones. And may we have peace and stability in our homes.

Ramadan diary: day 11

Yesterday was exhausting. I don’t know if it was simply from sitting through technical workshops trying not to yawn or my very unhealthy (but great) lunch of chips + baked beans but by the time I went back to the hotel I was done. Feeling refreshed after a quick wash I settled down to do some work on my bed and next thing you know I was out by 7.

I had a nightmare about missing work the next day so woke up disorientated and nervous. Frantically grabbed my phone and thank God it was only 3 AM. I had of course missed dinner and was feeling very thirsty. But as I was going to grab a drink I wondered if I should be fasting today.

See in the past my period has lasted an average of 10 days. But I noticed that for the last 2 months – the only 2 months I have recorded down – it lasted 8 days. And today is the 9th day. At 3 AM I was conflated on whether to fast anyway – even though I was super thirsty and the last meal I had eaten was lunch the day before. I would have attempted it but after some googling I found you shouldn’t fast until you are sure. Since I was unsure, and since my periods have typically lasted 10 days before, I thought it would be ok not to fast today.

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I’ll be travelling back home today anyway so can have a nice bath and get back at it tomorrow. Very excited to start fasting again – it’s just not the same not doing it.

I did catch the England v Wales game. Come on England! It’s weird how patriotic watching a ball being kicked around can make you. I was filled with gushing pride upon hearing the fans sing  the national anthem. It is interesting how many European anthems are about ruling and then you got the global south singing about the beauty of the land.

And on the topic of patriotism – my prayers are Jo Cox and her family. An MP who is fighting for her life after being attacked by a far-right, Britain First, terrorist. Of course this white man will not be named a terrorist. He is the wrong colour and follows the wrong religion for that. The hypocrisy is once again so clear and disheartening.

Terrorism has no religion or race. What it does seem to have is a gender. When we hear about an attack we automatically wonder about the race or the religion of the man. What was his motive? Never does it cross our mind that it could be a women. So when politicians consider banning or targeting a certain group, maybe they should consider that.

Edit: Jo Cox has passed away. My heart goes out for her two sons, husband and family. This was a political assassination yet is being reported as a stabbing. Not calling it what it is is unjust. 

Preventing PREVENT: the guidebook

I have spoken before about the terror caused by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill (2015).

A law that forces teachers, doctors and therapists into spies. A law that turns the vulnerable into suspects.

Do you:

  • seek excitement and adventure
  • want to get “in” with a group
  • type any “terrorism-related terms” into Google
  • feel like just being on your own
  • have low self-esteem
  • fall out with your old friends, and hook up with new ones
  • change your appearance
  • have poor mental health
  • have an interest in religion
  • get into fights with your family
  • disagree with the government on their foreign policy

then you are under risk of radicilisation (!). Yes these are real examples of signs published by the government. Don’t forget the unwritten rule: you must be perceived* as Muslim.

*look like a Muslim – be brown, Sunni, have a beard, wear a hijab

NUS have created this amazing guidebook – all the background and tips on how to organise – get your copy here (and share amongst your friends). And check out #StudentNotSuspects campaign on social media.

As they try to normalise PREVENT, we will normalise dissent – Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students Officer

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.  

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.

The tale of two terrorists

Failed logic. Source

I loudly, unequivocally condemn ISIS. I condemn them because they twist my faith, they harm more of my brothers and sisters in Islam in the global south than they do the Western World, and I condemn them because I am a decent human being.

I hate that I need to start this blog like that but I will anyway because too many times Muslims talking about the issues I am about to are told they need to do more to stop terrorism. And whilst too many non-Muslims let islamophobia go on, and too many white people let white supremacy and state violence go on, it is of course Muslims who are continuously reminded to fix our own. Now I can dedicate a whole post on how problematic this is and why statement such as the one given by our own PM a few days ago is so reckless but I’ll save that for another day.

Today I want to ask as very simple question. Why does the government have policies and strategies and spend so much time and money on stopping Muslims from fighting in Syria but allow Jewish people to fight in the IDF?

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