The Middle East Has Lost a True Friend in Jo Cox

To so many people across the United Kingdom and indeed the world, the disturbing, tragic murder of Jo Cox still seems utterly incomprehensible.

This was a woman who very visibly cared deeply for others and whose altruism has been described by many as unblemished.

Indeed, the more one learns about Jo Cox, the more one realises just how tremendous her compassion was.

Cox was a champion for the less fortunate; for the socially ostracised; for immigrants; for refugees; for women; and for diversity.

She was also a genuine friend of the Middle East and the UK’s Muslim community. Continue reading The Middle East Has Lost a True Friend in Jo Cox

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ISIS Fighter Furious at Non-Muslim Millennials for Appropriating Beard Culture

From hipsters in Williamsburg to millennials in Bethnal Green, ‘big, bushy beards’ have morphed from an ISIS subculture style to a mainstream Western fashion trend.* Daoud Mahmoud of Raqqa, Syria, says he can no longer remain silent. Florence of Arabia reports.

Salt n Pepper

In a series of furious Tweets on Friday, 22-year-old ISIS militant Daoud Mahmoud blasted Western millennials and hipsters for their “appropriation” of the caliphate’s beard culture, saying it was becoming “increasingly intolerable.”

Tweeting from his shelled-out flat in Raqqa, Daoud gave a brief history of ISIS beard culture in his tweets, saying facial hair is a core tenet of the terrorist group’s deep-seated spirituality — so much so, men who don’t sport a suitably bushy beard are instantaneously slaughtered.

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What to Watch This Weekend: The BBC’s ‘Murdered by my Father’

Murdered by my Father (2016)
Writer: Vinay Patel
Starring: Kiran Sonia Sawar; Adeel Akhtar (of Four Lions & the Night Manager); Mawaan Rizwan
Available on BBC iPlayer here
FofA Rating: ★★★★★

People who know me (and this blog) know how cautious I can be when it comes to any artistic or journalistic depiction of Muslims or The Other in the Wonderful West.

As such, I approached BBC Three’s Murdered by my Father, a 75-minute drama/pseudo-documentary written by the excellent Vinay Patel, with cynicism.

But it’s been a few days since I watched the haunting film, and it’s safe to say I just can’t shake it.

It’s that thought-provoking. That unsettling.

Not simply because of the gruesome, excruciating manner in which a bubbly British-born Pakistani teenager meets her demise (at the hands of her very own father). And not simply because of the awareness the film raises on the barbaric practice of “honour” killing and crime (the plot is said to be based on a number of true stories).

But also because of the complicated clash-of-culture realities depicted throughout the film. The type of realities that young women raised in deeply conservative families everywhere — not just in the West — face every day.

That eerily familiar cycle of fear, shame and guilt, moving in tandem with the desire to break free from it all, without losing those closest to us — our mothers, our fathers, our brothers  — in the process.

We know from the onset of Murdered by my Father that Salma (“Sal,” played with sensitivity and skill by the talented Kiran Sonia Sawar) will indeed be killed by her widowed father, Shahzad, and that he ends up severely injured after falling from the balcony of a multi-story council estate.

Continue reading What to Watch This Weekend: The BBC’s ‘Murdered by my Father’

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British Red Cross Launches Postcards For Syria Auction


Postcards For Syria, a stunning collection of works by artists, refugees, celebrities, and schoolchildren commissioned by the #BritishRedCross and designed along the themes of home, hope and humanity, will go on auction from 7 p.m. (London time) today.

“Why postcards? When you send a postcard to somebody, you do so because you want to send them a message. It’s a simple act that shows you are thinking about them,” the British Red Cross, which will contribute the proceeds of the auction to its #SyriaCrisisAppeal, says on its website. “As the crisis reaches its five-year point, the aim of this project is to show solidarity with Syrians while raising funds.”

Postcard Continue reading British Red Cross Launches Postcards For Syria Auction

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Islamophobe of the Week: Luton Nursery School


You mean to Luton?

There are so many random acts of Islamophobia these days that it’s impossible to keep track.

This week we have an unidentified employee (or unidentified employees) at an unidentified nursery school in Luton who called the mother of a pupil in for questioning after her toddler son drew a picture of his father with a knife chopping a cucumber.

The staff in question apparently misheard the boy when he said cucumber, thinking he meant to say “cooker bomb” instead, and suggested the child may need to be admitted into a de-radicalisation programme.


Cucumber Continue reading Islamophobe of the Week: Luton Nursery School

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I Say Dust: A Whimsical Tale of Lust, Longing and Identity

Film: I Say Dust
DirectorDarine Hotait
Starring: Hala Alyan, Mounia Akl
Available on Vimeo on Demand

It’s taken me some time to get around to reviewing I Say Dust, a short, sweet film directed by the promising Darine Hotait.

Partly because, life. But also because, despite the fact that it’s just about a quarter of an hour long, it flirts with vast topics including homosexuality in the Arab diaspora, dual identity, lust and love. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s not the easiest watch as a result. But that’s precisely the point.

Set in New York City, Hal, a broody, big-haired Arab-American poet (played poignantly by Hala Alyan) wanders the streets of Brooklyn to pin up flyers advertising an upcoming reading. She catches the eye of Moun (the stunning Mounia Akl), a bored and beautiful saleswoman at a Chess store.

I like your curls,” Moun flirtatiously says to Hal shortly after they meet. “Where you from?Continue reading I Say Dust: A Whimsical Tale of Lust, Longing and Identity

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No, Refugees Aren’t Sexually Depraved Muslim Beasts Who Need To Be Tamed by Europe.

(Adds Daoud’s decision to quit journalism. To jump to the update, click here).

Kamel Daoud’s op-ed, “The Sexual Misery of the Arab World,” has been trending on the New York Times since it was published on February 12. The piece — which is replete with tired, orientalist cliches — has been lauded by some for pointing out the obvious: that women in the Arab world face an enduring oppression problem, and that sexuality in the region is, as a result, warped.*
Continue reading No, Refugees Aren’t Sexually Depraved Muslim Beasts Who Need To Be Tamed by Europe.

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Musings on Muslims, Media and the Middle East.

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