Posts in Category: ISIS

Middle Eastern States Shed Crocodile Tears Over Orlando

In the few hours after Omar Mateen shot dead 50 innocent people at Pulse in Orlando a week ago, dozens of politicians and heads of states around the world rushed to condemn the grotesque hate crime.

The “condemnations” trickling in from the Middle East were particularly interesting and unique when placed in the context of these countries’  track records on LGBT rights and their mistreatment of homosexuals (Russia could potentially be added to this list, too, but for the sake of this post, we’re focusing on the Middle East).

To illustrate the stark contrast between the condemnations and the countries’ respective policies on homosexuality, Florence of Arabia has put together the below listicle featuring Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. (Please do send in more if I’ve missed any.)

[To jump straight to the listicle, click here.]

The contrast is quite humorous and hypocritical, but on a more serious level, it reaffirms just how rampant state-sponsored homophobia is in the region. It’s worth noting that the condemnations were similarly worded and omitted any mention of the attacks occurring at a gay club or targeting homosexuals. 

The condemnations are inherently problematic in that the states are essentially players that enable or fuel the sort of hatred which motivated the very crime they appear to have condemned.

Scholar and writer Samar Habib in this piece for the Washington Post argues that the condemnations are a “start,” whilst acknowledging they are somewhat troublesome.

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.

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, 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.

FLOW CHART: How to Respond to a Terrorist Attack

By Zahra Hankir and ND*

There are so many terrorist (or kind-of-terrorist-) attacks out there these days, that it’s hard to keep track.

While we understand terrorism is certainly no laughing matter, we thought we’d put together a flow chart  to help you figure out how to respond to such attacks during these dark times.

Are you a Facebook user? A moderate Muslim? A western media organisation? Vladimir Putin? Or even David Cameron?

Florence of Arabia has got you covered.

(Click on the image to enlarge).


* ND is a London-based ultimate frisbee player, flow-chart expert and journalist. She’s also a White Westerner. 

Are you a Terrorist Sympathizer?

David Cameron on Wednesday had the audacity to call me and my friends “terrorist sympathisers,” before adding injury to insult by using my hard-earned tax money to bomb an already war-torn country that’s already being bombed by numerous other countries. Aside from far more serious issues, this begs the question of how one should define a “terrorist sympathiser.” Florence of Arabia does the heavy-lifting for you here.

On War, Food and Leaving Iraq: a Letter from Baghdad

Vivian Salama
, who’s covered the Middle East as a journalist for more than a decade, has served as Baghdad bureau chief at the Associated Press for 18 months.

During her time in the Iraqi capital, she has overseen stories dealing with the Islamic State’s takeover of large swathes of the country, the displaced Yazidi community, the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS and the digitisation of the national library, among countless others. She also interviewed the Prime Minister of the war-torn country, Haidar Al-Abadi, in addition to former PM, Nouri al-Maliki.

Salama, an Egyptian-American,  is set to leave Baghdad for a Deputy Political Editor post in Washington D.C. on November 24.

Flat Whites and Fatwas

Starbucks. East London. Tuesday evening. Killing time. Decide to find a quiet spot to catch up on ISIS-related news of the day. The dimly lit lower-ground floor is packed save a corner table that’s adjacent to a group of bearded (not hipster-bearded, if you get what I mean) professionals. At least eight. They’re partaking in an intense discussion. I overhear the words Muslim, Gaza and Guantanamo. Without thinking twice, I head to the vacant spot. I realize I’m uncomfortably close to their table. They notice me for a split second before returning to their discussion. To leave now would be suspect, I figure. So I take my jacket off and make myself comfortable.

A Syrian Love Story

* With thanks to the Council for Arab-British Understanding for inviting me to their screening of the film at Parliament

A Syrian Love Story is devastating in more ways than one. It tells the tale of a disintegrating marriage in brutally honest terms, against the backdrop of war. It illustrates the psychological effects of that dissolution, and the conflict in Syria, on the couple’s vulnerable children. It raises questions about gender and gender roles without offering conclusions. And it delivers a poignant examination of post-traumatic stress disorder, anger and addiction.

But mostly, A Syrian Love Story is a timely and timeless portrait of just one of millions of refugee families and how war can unrelentingly tear countries and people apart. Views on the refugee crisis currently afflicting Europe and beyond will either be reinforced or challenged by this 80-minute documentary, adding to its relevance and intensity.

Pros and Cons of Accepting Syrian Refugees into the U.K.

Bowing to public pressure, David Cameron last week said the U.K. would take in 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 from camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The move has been criticized by various media outlets, as well as Labour (who say that the number is too low*) and UKIP (who say the number is too high).

The resettled refugees will be given five-year humanitarian visas, and expenses will be drawn from the overseas aid budget.

But, who cares about all of that.

How will the U.K. really change?
What should the English expect?
More Middle Eastern restaurants? Weaker British values?
Florence of Arabia answers all of your burning questions.
See below. I’d like to think that I tap into the deepest, darkest fears of scaremongerers everywhere.

From British Schoolgirls to ISIS Brides

Earlier this year, I nervously/eagerly volunteered to be a “speed-mentor” for a Women of the World event at the Southbank Centre in London. That’s where I met Maram (not her real name), a shy, head-scarfed, 17-year-old British school girl. We had just 15 minutes to bond. I had no idea where to start. I asked her if she had a role model, confidently saying mine was Beyoncé. She giggled and was suddenly at ease.

Florence of Arabia