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. Continue reading

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.

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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 teamed up Prof. Andrew Will-Share, a London-based mixologist, to do the heavy-lifting for you here.

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On Paris, Beirut and ISIS

*Filed under Letters to Florence*

Some unique takes on the Paris attacks from Aida Alami, a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Foreign Policy, and Bashir Saade, a professor of politics at the University of Edinburgh. (Note from Nov. 24: I’ve also added a third account from journalist and PhD candidate Sobhiya Najjar.)

While Alami offers a personal account of reporting from the scene in Paris — and the thoughts that crossed her mind at the time — Saade takes a step back to make some sense of the political implications of the attacks in both France and Lebanon.

Najjar’s piece centres on the cognitive dissonance she felt as her concern wavered from Paris to Beirut and from Beirut to Paris.

With many thanks to all three contributors. Continue reading

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.

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Are You Muslim? Find Out How Offensive You Are to Islamophobes With This Guide

How offensive are you to Islamophobes? Click on image to enlarge.

By Zahra Hankir and Natasha Doff

Are you a British Muslim? Disturbed by the two viral videos* in which Islamophobes on London buses hurl vile insults at Muslim passengers (including a pregnant woman and a disabled Turkish pensioner)?

Want to do something about it?

The above flow-chart-test will categorise you as “Basically British,” a “Moderate Muslim,” or an “Extremist Muslim.” The results will help you figure out how offensive you are to Islamophobes everywhere.**

Aspire to be Basically British (particularly if you’re an immigrant with an exotic accent), and you could guarantee yourself an Islamophobia-free*** existence.. Continue reading

Soufflés and Shariah: Why the Great British Bake Off Winner is the World’s Worst ‘Moderate’ Muslim

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 20.58.35

DISCLAIMER: This piece comes in response to a series of articles that have obsessed over the fact that Nadiya is actually British AND Muslim — made obvious as ! she wears the HIJAB.

Many of these pieces, in which she’s hailed as a hero or labelled undeserving (due to her “ethnic background”), are linked throughout the blog post. Ideally, everyone would just leave this wonderful woman alone.

Unless it’s to praise her for her baking, her eyebrows and her brilliant facial expressions, with no reference to her being Muslim, of course.. Continue reading

Flat Whites and Fatwas: Moderate British Muslims Take on ISIS at Starbucks

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.

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A Syrian Refugee Love Story: `You Can’t be a Che Guevara and a Mother’

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

Film: A Syrian Love Story
Director: Sean McAllister
Showing at London cinemas including Curzon Bloomsbury

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.

(Minor spoilers ahead.) Continue reading